There are various reasons for getting a massage, from relaxation to helping heal injuries. Most people realize the stress-relieving qualities of massage, but few realize all its health advantages for all age groups.
Before booking a massage session, discuss any specific medical conditions with your massage therapist and let them advise which massage type would best meet your needs.
1. Stress Reduction
Stress is a normal response to certain situations; however, over time it can have lasting negative repercussions for our bodies and wellbeing. Massage therapy is an excellent way to alleviate negative stressors and feel more in control and relaxed.
Stress Response Hormones The body reacts to stress with an array of stress response hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that help you fight off potential threats, but chronically elevated levels can lead to health complications like anxiety and depression.
Studies have revealed that regular massage can provide numerous methods of stress reduction. Some may use massage as a means of dealing with work- or test-taking-related tension; for others, massage helps them relax when anticipating medical procedures that could potentially be disruptive or unpleasant.
Massage therapy can reduce stress by stimulating the release of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine; these chemicals play an essential role in improving mood, decreasing anxiety and increasing motivation and energy.
Massage can also aid your sleep by improving blood flow and decreasing heart rate, leading to deeper and more restful restful slumber. A skilled therapist will know which techniques will best help you sleep soundly each night and could even become part of a regular sleeping schedule!
As stress reduction benefits of massage are well known, its research remains limited and should only be utilized with appropriate precautions in place.
As with any new treatment, it is always a good idea to consult your physician prior to beginning massage therapy, particularly if you already have existing health conditions or take medications. Your physician can help you to determine whether massage therapy would fit into your current care plan effectively.
As one way of relieving stress, massage should be part of a regular wellness plan. If this seems intimidating to you, try trying different techniques before signing up for full body sessions; you might be amazed at just how effective simple, gentle treatments can be in improving life quality.
2. Pain Relief
Pain can be an unbearably uncomfortable and frustrating condition that affects millions of Americans, and is most frequently chronic pain – lasting 12 weeks or longer and possibly stemming from injuries, surgeries, nerve damage or other health conditions.
Massage therapy has proven itself to be an effective means of alleviating and preventing future pain, by disrupting its cycle and interfering with various pain pathways.
Massage’s key role in relieving pain lies in increasing blood flow to the area in need and stimulating dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin releases. Furthermore, massage can improve muscle movement by relieving tension and spasms in the body.
Studies have also demonstrated how massage can assist with injury recovery by reducing swelling, inflammation and scar tissue formation; thus accelerating the healing process.
When someone experiences an injury, their body’s initial reaction can be to tighten muscles around it to protect the area from further damage. Unfortunately, this creates a chain reaction that makes recovery even harder than originally anticipated.
These reactions are your body’s way of protecting an injured area and providing nutrients needed to heal itself, but this can be distressing for anyone experiencing intense discomfort; massage therapy may provide much-needed relief.
Massage has many other benefits that help lower stress and anxiety levels, including depression relief and generalized anxiety disorder relief – both of which can cause significant pain. Studies have demonstrated the positive results of massage for treating such conditions as these.
Painful conditions like arthritis may also benefit from massage therapy; studies have demonstrated its efficacy at relieving discomfort, stiffness and swelling for those living with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis conditions.
Studies have also demonstrated its ability to reduce pain and inflammation for those suffering from neck pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome headaches shoulder pain tenosynovitis. Furthermore, this therapy may provide significant relief post-surgery or nerve damage pain relief.
3. Increased Flexibility
Massage therapy can increase flexibility through several avenues, including increasing temperature, decreasing tissue inelasticity, breaking down adhesions, eliminating waste products and decreasing swelling or pain. Massage can also keep people flexible by increasing blood flow to muscles and connective tissues – helping enhance athletic performance while decreasing risk.
Massage can increase flexibility by breaking down adhesions that limit muscle movement and restrict flexibility. Adhesions typically form when tight muscles become inflamed or injured, leading to knots in their fibers that limit mobility. A massage therapist can apply force across a tight muscle to break apart these adhesions and realign muscle fibers into normal alignment during a massage treatment session.
Scar tissue from injuries, which restricts flexibility, can be broken down by massage therapy and realigned through realigning its collagen fibres in order to restore flexibility. Scar tissue is composed of dense networks of collagen fibers arranged randomly across muscles that stiffen them up and limit mobility; scar tissue massage therapy will break this down and realign these fibres during its session, thus improving flexibility.
Swelling of soft tissues can restrict movement by restricting blood supply to damaged areas. A therapist may utilize lymphatic drainage techniques to flush away any excess fluid from affected areas and increase flexibility.
Massage can also serve as an effective tool for healing injuries faster. After an accident occurs, massage combined with stretching can be used to break down scar tissue and restore flexibility – ultimately hastening recovery and decreasing pain associated with injuries.
Flexibility can be increased using various techniques, the most popular being deep strokes and soft tissue release (STR). A therapist can apply pressure directly onto the area that needs treating with hands or fingers at a depth that feels comfortable to the client, before performing multiple soft tissue releases throughout treatment.
The therapist may then perform a series on each hamstring, such as by lying the client on their side and bending their knee while applying pressure with fingers or fist at roughly 45deg angle along one of their hamstring muscles. These techniques may be repeated several times throughout each session to increase flexibility significantly in these muscle groups.
4. Better Sleep
Massage therapy may help people suffering from insomnia or sleeping disorders find relief. Sleeplessness is a widespread condition caused by stress, anxiety and poor lifestyle habits – or medical issues like menopause or congestive heart failure.
One way massage therapy can improve sleep is by decreasing cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for increased appetite, weight gain and fatigue. By decreasing cortisol levels massage therapy can help you fall asleep more quickly and remain asleep longer.
Massage also plays a key role in aiding sleep by encouraging the release of melatonin, the chemical messenger responsible for regulating your sleeping cycle. Although melatonin production occurs naturally within your body, its levels can become depleted by factors like caffeine intake, smoking cigarettes or excessive alcohol intake and even stress.
One effective way to increase melatonin production is through receiving a relaxing massage. For optimal results, consider massage techniques that feature long and flowing strokes which promote relaxation.
Massage for stress relief promotes serotonin production, an important neurotransmitter responsible for elevating feelings of well-being and happiness. Furthermore, its presence also boosts melatonin production within your body.
Studies have demonstrated that patients suffering from narcolepsy experienced improved sleep after participating in 45-minute massage sessions in the evenings, receiving 45-minute sessions of massage to aid better quality restful sleep and awakening feeling refreshed each morning.
One Toronto study discovered that patients receiving massages for five weeks reported significantly fewer complaints of fatigue in the morning and experienced overall improved sleep quality; results which were supported by other research.
Sleep is essential to both physical and mental wellbeing, providing energy boosts, improving memory retention and decreasing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Improve your sleep by planning ahead, keeping a regular bedtime routine, limiting caffeine before bed and cutting down on alcohol/caffeine intake during the day. Furthermore, seek the advice of a massage therapist on self-massage techniques you can perform at home to promote better rest without needing professional services every week or two.