If you think that massages are simply about relaxing or feeling good, well you’re wrong. Treating yourself with a good massage comes with lots of hidden health benefits that may surprise you.
From enhancing blood circulation to giving you a general feeling of well-being, massage is definitely here to stay. In fact, massage is now considered by many as an alternative form of treatment rather than just being a luxury spa visit. Before I bore you any further. Take a look at these 8 Science Backed benefits of massage.
1. Relieves Stress
There’s no better way to de-stress and unwind than relaxing at the spa. To soothe and calm the nervous tics or any other depression related disorder, a massage session will always come in handy. In fact, when you take too much stress, it can turn into anxiety, which can be detrimental to your overall health. And yes, anxiety can lead to serious health conditions like diabetes.
Moving forward, according to a 2018 report by the National Institutes of Health, massage is capable of effectively reducing physiological measures of stress – both hormonal and physical variables. All in all, relaxing at the spa can effectively relieve stress and tension, and as a result, eliminating anxiety.
2. Pain Reduction
All over the world, physicians are known to recommend massage as an alternative and natural way of combating pains and aches. Do you still doubt? Well, a 2011 study by the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that massage can help improve and alleviate lower back pain symptoms. The same study added that structural and Swedish massages are the most recommended. So if you regularly feel that unwanted back pain after sitting at the work desk all day long, then consider getting a rubdown.
3. Improved Flexibility
If you realize that you’ve lost some spring in your step, then don’t fret just yet. This is because quality massage therapy can help improve and maintain flexibility and motion by working on your connective tissues, tendons, joints, and ligaments. According to a study published by the International Journal of Neuroscience, undergoing two half an hour massages every week can tremendously improve your flexibility and relieve lower back pain. In short, a good rub down is the surefire tip to stretching your joints, keeping them less injury prone.
4. Help Prevent Injury
This is especially good news to most professional athletes out there. A study conducted by the New Zealand Institute of Sport and Recreational Research revealed that massage can help prevent injury by priming the muscles before exercise. The report further added that massage produces mechanical pressure, which increases muscle compliance resulting in an improved range of joint motion as well as decreased active and passive stiffness.
So in other words, massaging can help relax stiff muscles before an exercise. A muscle that is warmed-up for exercise is definitely more flexible, hence the likelihood of suffering an injury is greatly reduced. However, if you’re an athlete, massage shouldn’t in any way replace your traditional pre-exercise warm-up. This is because the traditional pre-exercise warm-up is important in improving blood circulation and the overall core body temperature before exercising.
5. Alleviates Depression Symptoms
At least 10% of American adults suffer from depression, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another research published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that massage is very effective when managing depression symptoms. This is due to its ability to decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body by a whopping 50%. The study went further to reveal that massage can increase the production of dopamine and serotonin which help stabilize moods. All in all, we can conclude from the study that massage therapy can help you feel energized, happy, and at ease.
6. Strengthened Immune System
Still worried about getting past the flu season? Well, your traditional spa treatment can do the trick. Massage can strengthen your overall immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. According to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, taking a 45-minute Swedish massage can tremendously increase the white blood cells and oxytocin levels, which play an important role in preventing viral infections and tumors. All said and done, your body’s immune system is definitely its first line of defense against foreign infections. Therefore, keeping a body that is competent enough against harmful bacteria and viruses is very crucial.
7. Improves Sleep
Sleep has often been underrated and ignored by most people in the past. Now though, most of us are beginning to understand how crucial sleep soundly is to our overall health and well-being. To begin with, sleep is very important in keeping at bay dangerous infections such as cancer and blood pressure. Another thing, sleep can also help reduce stress, inflammation, and improve memory. So, why is massage linked to sleeping soundly? This is because massage can help treat insomnia by aiding the production of melatonin, at least according to the American Massage Therapy Association.
Another study carried out on 30 adults suffering from chronic low back pain by the University Of Miami School Of Medicine revealed that a 30-minute massage session twice every week can tremendously reduce sleep disturbances. The researchers concluded that since the therapy reduced the pain, chances of high-quality shuteye are high. Who wouldn’t want to sleep soundly after all? Certainly not me!
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8. Promote Infant’s Overall Health
This is probably one of the most common benefits of massage. In fact, if you’re looking for ways to bond and relax with your baby, you should try giving him/her an infant massage. That being said, baby massage might help stimulate the digestive and circulatory systems according to the IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage).
The research further adds that this might help babies suffering from conditions like constipation, cramps, colic, or gas, and should be introduced immediately the baby is born. However, more research is still needed to ascertain if infant massage can improve the growth of preterm infants or eliminate teething discomfort according to a Cochrane systematic review.
As you’ve seen, massage therapy has lots of physical and psychological benefits as well that you should consider making it part of your regular routine. All the aforementioned benefits of massage can help you live a healthier and happier life. It goes without saying that there’re 80+ massage types to help you find the perfect fit for your needs. However, don’t forget to consult your doctor before starting any procedures.