Getting a massage is a great way to wind down, pamper yourself, and relax. But did you know massage therapy does much more than just provide an hour or two of relaxation? Throughout history, in both Eastern and Western cultures, massage therapy has been used as a tool to help manage various health conditions, enhance wellness, and relieve chronic pain.
Here are 10 surprising health benefits of massage therapy that can greatly improve your overall health and quality of life.
When we are sitting at a desk all day, we tend to carry our stress heavily in the shoulders and neck. Massage therapy can relieve the postural stress that results from prolonged periods of sitting and improve your overall posture. If you work a desk job, be sure to pay attention to any pain or weakness in the lower back, shoulders and neck. Scheduling a regular massage will not only help you relax after a busy month at work, but also greatly counteract the negative health effects that result from sitting down all day.
If your muscles are sore from exercise or sports injury, massage therapy can reduce muscle pain by increasing and improving your circulation. Increased circulation aids in regeneration of muscle function and can not only help with muscle soreness, but also prevent future injury.
Massage therapy has been shown to increase serotonin and dopamine levels, resulting in decreased symptoms of depression. The stress-alleviating effects of a massage also significantly decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which reduces anxiety.
In the treatment of women diagnosed with breast cancer, clinical practice guidelines include massage therapy as one of several approaches that may be helpful for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life. In a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported a reduction in depression, anger, and anxiety.
The calming effects that follow a massage due to increased serotonin and dopamine levels also encourage a more peaceful and restful sleep. Whether it’s pain, stress or anxiety that keep you up at night, a massage can alleviate a number of conditions that could be keeping you from having a good night’s sleep.
Massage therapy can also benefit your body’s immune system. Researchers have reported individuals who undergo massage therapy experience changes in their body’s immune and endocrine response. A study on the effects of Swedish massage on individuals’ endocrine response found that after just one 45-minute massage, participants experienced increased numbers of lymphocytes and white blood cells which play a large role in defending the body from disease.
If you suffer from chronic migraines or frequent headaches, massage therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and frequency.
Patients with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or biotherapy commonly experience negative side effects during treatment. Increasingly, research and literature are showing that massage therapy, concurrently with chemotherapy and biotherapy, significantly reduces the negative side effects experienced during cancer treatment. In a study published in the Clinical Journey of Oncology Nursing, participants who received regular massages as a part of their treatment reported a statistically significant reduction in pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety.
Research clearly supports the use of massage therapy for isolated issues that can arise for patients who are recovering from a stroke. Researchers believe that post-stroke massage therapy can increase sensorimotor function, improve fine motor skills, decrease anxiety and physiological stress, and improve overall health and quality of life. More specifically, massage therapy increases serotonin levels, which can not only relieve depression after a stroke, but can also decrease an individual’s risk of heart attack and another stroke. Depression is one of the predictive factors of stroke, so it is possible that massage therapy may reduce the risk of a stroke even before a first incident. Stroke may also cause swelling and inflammation of the body, which can be alleviated through gentle massage and a massage technique called lymphatic drainage to improve circulation.
Fibromyalgia causes pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons and soft tissues of the body. Massage therapy can have great benefits for Fibromyalgia pain management, as well as alleviate co-current symptoms like headaches, anxiety, and depression. The massage technique of myofascial release has been proven to reduce patients’ sensitivity to pain, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Myofascial release has also shown an improvement in sleep quality, quality of life and physical function in patients with fibromyalgia.
Studies have supported the use of the massage therapy techniques of reflexology and aromatherapy in patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory-loss after a stroke. A massage therapist trained in reflexology for the management of memory-loss conditions will work pressure points related to the brain, spine, neck, adrenals and heart points.
If you are interested in a new career, have a passion for helping others and understand the healing properties of the human touch – massage therapy school is the perfect fit for you. At the Genesis Massage Therapy Program in Cookeville, TN, you’ll study and become an expert in:
To learn more about our program and take your first step toward becoming a licensed massage therapist, visit our website today.