The Benefits of Massage Therapy
Many people don't know about the health benefits of massage therapy. They think of massage as an indulgence.
When you think of massage what do you think of? Do you picture a luxurious spa or a medical clinic? Most people picture the spa with candles and relaxing music. There's nothing wrong with that. A nice relaxing massage is very good, but did you know that many massages are performed in clinical settings daily? Besides being relaxing massage can benefit the body in many other ways.
Here are some examples of the health benefits of massage therapy can have on health.
Increases circulation--The increased blood flow caused by massage helps increase the nourishment muscles receive and carries the wastes from the muscles into the lymphatic system. This helps sore muscles heal faster. If your legs ache after a long day try massaging them and notice how much quicker the aching goes away. While it doesn't exercise muscles, regular massages can help prevent the atrophy of unused muscles.
Increased circulation isn't always good though. If you have a cold, bodywork could help the virus circulate in your body faster making you sicker. It could also spread certain types of cancers. While massage is useful for helping ease the pain and stress of cancer you should consult a doctor before seeing a massage therapist if you have cancer.
Increases flexibility--The kneading and pulling motion of kneading muscle tissue can help increase flexibility in muscles and loosen bound fascia. Manipulating muscle fibers helps lengthen them. It can also increase your body's production of natural lubrication making it easier to move around.
Therapists can perform passive and active ranges of motion on parts of your body. Thai massage is a good example of passive stretching used in massage. Other methods such as Muscle Energy Technique can also elongate muscles and increase your ranges of motion. Good flexibility will decrease your risk of injury during certain activities.
Strengthens the immune system--Encouraging the flow of lymph helps pump toxins out of your body enhancing your immune system.
A study done by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2010 found that massage actually helps your body become more affective at fighting off illness. In the study half of the people received a Swedish massage. The other half received light touch therapy. After the sessions blood samples showed that the people who received massage had more lymphocytes in their blood. Lymphocytes are cells that defend your body against infection and viruses.
Reduces stress and anxiety--Calming the nervous system is one of the effects of massage. This facilitates relaxation.
Massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system slowing heart rate and breathing. The body is put into a relaxed state. When you are relaxed you can't feel anxiety and stress.
Improves the health of skin--It helps the skin become more supple and regulates oil production. The increased circulation helps provide more nourishment to the skin. It can help improve the skin's appearance and even alleviate overly dry skin.
Speeds healing--Massage helps speed healing time after surgery and reduces the appearance of scar tissue. More nutrients are carried to the cells helping them heal more quickly. The act of massaging breaks up adhesions in tissue that would normally produce scar tissue.
Reduces blood pressure--The calming of the nervous system helps slow the heart rate resulting in lower blood pressure.
Touch is an important aspect of human life. This basic sense is the first to develop in the womb and it has a tremendous effect on us. Touch deprivation can have terrible consequences. The Touch Institute, based in Florida, has done many studies on the health benefits of massage therapy. In their most famous study, they found that premature infants who are massaged gained weight much faster than those who aren't. They are also generally less stressed.
Infants who are massaged have more organized sleep and wake patterns. They are also less fussy and experience less colic.
Children with autism can experience the health benefits of massage therapy too. Children who are massaged display less stereotypical autistic behaviors. They have more regular sleep patterns and are able to stay on task more easily.
Seniors who are massaged regularly also receive the many health benefits of massage therapy. They are more alert and aware of their surroundings. They are also less likely to be depressed. Many seniors are touch deprived. Getting regular massage gives them the human contact they desperately need to thrive.
The benefits of massage therapy can be seen in both the young and old. Click this link to read about more studies that show how massage therapy can benefit illnesses.
I used to work for a state funded program that provided massage to children with disabilities. I think ignorance about the medical benefits of massage therapy is what got the program cut from the state budget. It's a shame really. I saw massage positively affecting the children I worked with so much. Taking that service away from them severely affected the health of a few of them.
Massage should be a part of everyone's health maintenance routine. You'll find as you integrate massage into your life you'll feel better.
Continue on to the next page to read about the conditions massage can help treat.
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