Massage therapy isn’t just a luxury treatment for pampering and relaxation. It has begun to establish a strong reputation as an effective modality for rehabilitation and pain management.
And it doesn’t only have a positive impact physically. Massage therapy is linked to a reduction in stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health will be the second most prevalent cause of disability by 2020. Most experts agree that any natural treatment that can have the chance of reducing mental illness is worth a shot.
So, are massages good for you? Keep reading for 9 benefits of massage therapy and why it’s considered much more than a luxury.
What Exactly Is a Massage?
Technically speaking, massage is the process of applying pressure to the skin, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There are many different types of massage, some styles apply more pressure than others.
The most common types of massage are Swedish massage, deep massage, trigger point massage, sports massage, and relaxation massage. Though there are many different styles ranging across cultures.
Swedish massage is considered to be a type of relaxation massage where the practitioner uses long, gentle strokes usually applied in circular motions.
The therapist will often apply pressure based on the customers’ instruction and is usually used more for relaxation than rehabilitation purposes.
Deep massage and sports massage are more intense versions where the therapist uses deeper strokes and applies much more pressure to the muscles. Try this service in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
This type of therapy can be more painful than relaxing at the time but has much more benefit after the fact. Sports massage is highly recommended for athletes or people who often take part in rigorous exercise.
Trigger point massage is a modality of treatment where the practitioner works on specific areas of tight, injured or overused muscles. This type of massage does not feel pleasant at the time but can help to reverse injury and speed up recovery.
Are Massages Good For You?
Of the 52% of Americans who opted for massage therapy between 2014 and 2015, five main reasons were cited.
Stress reduction, pain management, soreness, physical rehabilitation, and general health were the most common reasons for people choosing massage therapy. Here are the 9 primary benefits one can achieve by getting regular massages.
1. Pain Management
From lower back pain and pain caused by poor posture from sitting at a desk all day to chronic soreness and stiffness of muscles, massage therapy is most celebrated as a natural, medication-free way to relieve pain symptoms.
It can be used to alleviate post-operative pain, carpal tunnel, and pain caused by overexertion or injury. 91% of people who receive regular massage agree that it is an effective way to reduce pain.
2. Mental Health
Getting regular massages is linked to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression. Relaxation massage especially allows the patient to fully relax and reap the benefits of therapeutic human touch.
Some patients report feeling a noticeable reduction in stress and anxiety levels for weeks after they’ve received treatment.
3. Improves Sleep Quality
Because of its ability to reduce pain symptoms and lower anxiety levels, its no surprise that massage therapy improves quality of sleep. And getting better sleep inherently reduces fatigue, improves mood and general wellbeing.
There is even a type of massage technique that can be applied to infants to help them sleep better and reduce stress throughout the night.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Studies have found that regular massage therapy is linked to improved circulation and lowered blood pressure. It is also linked to reduced cortisol levels, which are the body’s stress hormones.
Less cortisol means less stress. Less stress means lower blood pressure. And lower blood pressure means a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health issues.
5. Headache Relief
This could be included under pain management, but sometimes headaches are in a league of their own. Especially for people who experience chronic headaches or migraines.
Professional massage applied to the shoulders and neck can significantly help to reduce the tension that causes headaches. Reflexology (foot massage) can have a huge impact on headache reduction as well.
Surprisingly, regular massage therapy has been proven to boost the immune system and has even shown promise in improving immune function for people suffering from HIV.
This is because massage is known to increase white blood cells which have a direct impact on the body’s ability to defend against disease.
7. Improves Posture
Poor posture can lead to a world of pain. Especially for those who work in offices and are confined to a desk all day; too much time spent sedentary and in a slouched posture can lead to chronic back and neck pain.
In fact, chronic back pain is one of the most common causes of disability resulting in requiring time off work.
Massage is now widely recognized as a safe and effective way to improve posture and reduce back pain. Most company insurance programs now cover massage for this reason.
Massage therapy is also linked to improved flexibility due to its ability to loosen and relax muscles. It increases the elasticity of muscles, tendons, and ligaments which is why it is such an effective way to treat stiffness and tightness.
The tightness of the neck can lead to severe back pain and headaches. Using massage therapy techniques to release the tightness in the muscles improves the mobility of muscles, ultimately leading to reduced pain.
9. Muscle Rehabilitation
Especially for athletes, massage therapy can speed up recovery and minimize downtime spent due to injury.
A professional massage therapist can effectively reduce swelling related to surgery, injury or muscle overexertion and can be the key to getting back to your regular routine.
Are massages good for you? Many experts and patients agree that the answer to this question is a definite yes. Otherwise, why would massage therapy have become such a mainstream recommendation for pain management? No longer the luxury fringe treatment it once was, massage therapy patients experience a large number of benefits from physical to mental and everything in between