The Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massaging involves the manipulation of skin, muscle and joints to relax muscle spasm, relieve tension and pain, improve circulation and accelerate the elimination of waste.
The major benefit of massages is the release of "feel-good" hormones in the brain called endorphins
- Emotional Benefits: These mood-enhancing hormones bind to your brain’s natural receptors and are responsible for the so-called runner’s high, which is described as a feeling of euphoria after you have been exercising for a while. (Ref.: "The Benefits of Endorphins, Relaxation, and Good" by Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM- Issue 385)
- Additionally, massages reduce norepinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones)
- The improved mental state continues throughout the day of the treatment.
- Pain Management: Endorphins prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals
- Immune System: Endorphins stimulate immune system cells, which also helps target illnesses like cancer, as well as wrinkles (Ref.: NHS Direct - a health advice and information service provided by the National Health Service in England.
- Click here for more information on health benefits of massages
Clearly, a massage is not mere "pampering" but has multiple therapeutic effects and, ideally, should be part of our health and wellness plan. Regular massage therapy stimulates physiological and chemical changes that can do wonders for your overall health. The benefits of massage therapy increase with the frequency of this treatment.
What are your options:
Professional / Personal Massages & Services:
Professional Massages: There is no doubt that professional massage therapy is very effective -- but it can be expensive if undertaken regularly. Furthermore, not everybody feels comfortable with the lack of privacy associated with such personal touch by a stranger and the lack of control over a massage, not to mention the inconvenience of having to drive to their location and the associated expenses.
- Click here for information on common massage types and their benefits.
Personal / At Home Massages: If a cooperative family is available, back massages can easily be learned.
There are plenty of excellent DVDs and books suited both for the beginner as well as the professional ... There are even some DVDs for the person who is alone and is looking for some massage techniques that he or she can do alone; and many of the DVDs and books can be bought quite inexpensively second-hand.
HydroMassage Bed: No doubt about it, a 15-minute session on one of those feels wonderful; and the effect of feeling great lingers on for the rest of the day and maybe even the day thereafter. Spas, some fitness centers and chiropractic offices offer this experience. The cost is around $50 a pop. Some older HydroMassage Beds are on the market and sessions with them may be as low as $15; having never had a massage on them, I wouldn't be able to assess their effectiveness. If you have input, please e-mail us!
Quality massage chairs are as effective as professional, hands-on massage treatments. Even though the initial investment needs to be considered, the fact that this is a one-time investment compared to regularly paying a professional masseur/masseuse for multiple treatments makes it worth our consideration.
Massage chairs allow you to receive the benefits of muscle and stress manipulation in the comfort and privacy of your own home. One of the most well-known massage forms is Shiatsu. It usually uses the parts of the hand such as palms, fingers, thumbs and knuckles to rub, knead, press and pat the body to encourage the natural fluids to aid recovery. This same type of treatment is available in massage chairs as they use a mixture of rollers, probes, heat and vibration in the same manner as the Shiatsu method.
Massage Cushions / Foot Massages:
Massage cushions don't offer the same features of fancy massage chairs, but they are economical options that are still very soothing and relaxing; and will also reduce tension in the back thus alleviating any pain and discomfort that one may be experiencing. Most, if not all (which may also depend on the type and quality of massage cushion) still experience a better mood and feeling of calm and contentment for the rest of the day, as they would have felt using a fancy massage chair.
Health Benefits of Massages:
- Pain Management: Massage release endorphins - amino acids that work as the bodys natural painkiller.
- Acute & Chronic Pain: Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.
- Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
- Back Pain: Massages play a crucial role in alleviating back pain. Most of the time, when someone goes to their doctor for back pain, the first thing the doctor will do is send that patient to a physical therapist for some sort of stretching exercises to relieve back pain
- Depression & Insomnia:
- Urinary levels of norepinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones) were lower in the massage control group for depressed patients over a five day period. Observations from nurses involved in the study include an increase in the number of hours slept at night and less anxiety in those who received a massage each day. Ref.: Field, T., Morrow, C., Valdeon, C., Larson, S., Kuhn, C. & Schanberg, S. Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent phychiatric patients. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 125-131).
- Massage increase endorphin levels which enhance the human well being and reduce anxiety.
- Helps with Painful Muscle Strains / Injuries. Massages help loosen tight and strained muscles. Massage chairs can target any area by providing probing massage, vibration, air-controlled manipulation and heat as needed. Relaxing and softening injured and overused muscles will improve joint flexibility and reduce spasms and cramping. Regular massages reduce recovery time for strenuous workouts and eliminate subsequent pain.
- High Blood Pressure: The fact that massage aids blood circulation also helps decrease high blood pressure. High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
- Blood / Lymphatic Flow: Regular massages promote healthy venous and lymphatic flow thus enabling the body to more efficiently remove lactic acid and other potentially damaging waste products. They also increase blood flow and facilitate the circulation and absorption of nutritional elements into the muscles and tissues.
- Immunesystem: Massage encourages the free flow of our body's natural fluids. The benefits derived from that is that nutrients are effectively carried to the different organs and toxins are as effectively moved out of the body. This will strengthen our immunesystem and help us fight disease.
Massage is safe for most people with the exception of recent heart attack patients, any individual who may be pregnant, has a pacemaker, suffers from diabetes, phlebitis, and/or thrombosis, or is at an increased risk of developing blood clots due to recent surgery, or has pins/screws or anything mechanical in their legs, ankles or feet, or is suffering from severe osteoporosis or unhealed fractures should consult with a physician before using a massaging device. Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.
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