Health and Scientific Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage is often considered a luxury, rather than a necessity. While some salons and spas do cater exclusively to relaxation methods, many people that seek a massage are expecting to relieve pain. Whether it’s a new mother who has shoulder pain from cradling her baby or a truck driver who spends 40-plus hours a week on the road and has killer back pain, all of these people need help. Massage dates back thousands of years, and the first recorded instance of its health benefits can be found in a book written around 2600 B.C., The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine. Since then, with modern advances in medicine and technology, more benefits of massage therapy have been revealed.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

There are many more benefits to massage therapy than many people think. Massage therapy is not just to relax and feel good. Below are 15 health benefits of receiving regular massage.

Stress and Anxiety Relief

While massage is definitely relaxing, it is also know to help relieve anxiety and stress. When your body is relaxed, it is easier for your mind to follow suit. While the Massage Therapist is working on sore shoulder blades, something else is happening in your brain; your adrenal gland is being soothed and hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol, which cause stress and anxiety, take a temporary vacation and give way to feel good hormones like dopamine and other endorphins.

Benefits of Massage Therapy
Benefits of Massage Therapy

Lower Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is classified as having an insufficient amount of blood flow pumping to vital organs such as the heart and the brain. This can lead to a whole host of symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and breathing problems. Massage can help combat low blood pressure by increasing blood flow throughout the body and help stimulate circulation.

Encourage Hair Growth

Have you always wanted longer, thicker hair? Scalp massage may be what you are looking for. Our hair follicles are made up of hyperactive stem cells that become dilated when they are massaged. Over time, this can lead to thicker, stronger hair.

Strengthen Immune System

During a 2015 study, American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) president Jeff Smoot reported that researchers working with patients with compromised immune systems have showed a marked improvement when regular massage was added to their wellness routines. Massage increases the body’s white blood cell count, specifically lymphocytes, and gives the body more strength to fight off viruses.

Combat eating disorders

Massage therapy boosts dopamine and serotonin levels and lower stress levels. This creates a euphoric feeling that help people suffering with eating disorders. This was an unexpected effect that researchers came across. It was revealed that massage can help an eating disorder patient focus less on their self-image and more on their enjoyment of having their bodies touched. It seems that researchers were able to inadvertently tap into some primal need for physical expression that can override even the most severe eating disorders. Massage is now used frequently as a regular part of certain eating disorder treatment programs.

Increase ROM

Range of motion is something people don’t generally think about until it becomes limited. When you have suffered an injury that prevents your limbs from moving as freely as they should, it can be painful and frustrating. Massage therapy can help heal the injury on connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Regular massages can also further improve and help maintain your healthy range of motion.

Decrease Migraine Pain

Anyone who has ever experienced a migraine know how debilitating it can be. Research has shown that massage can help relieve migraine by increasing blood flow to the head, relieve muscle tension that contribute to headaches, and can help regulate hormones that exacerbate migraine symptoms. It has also been shown that regular massage can help decrease the frequency and severity of migraines.

Manage Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can take the joy out of living. While some people do not have the option to heal their pain entirely, massage offers a way to take control of the situation. Massage therapy can help release feel-good hormones that block out pain receptors and offer temporary relief. The same feel-good hormones can help improve your sleeping habits and your mood.

Improves Posture

Feeling stiff after a workout or too many hours spent in an office chair? Massage can help get your muscles and joints moving again. If you have bad form while lifting weights or you slouch at your desk, massage can help relax and loosen those stiff muscles and retrain them to position themselves in a natural posture that can help ease the pain. Massage helps lengthen and loosen the muscle, leaving it supple and flexible. Not only will regular massage help repair damage already done to muscles, but it will help prevent future damage.

Treats Muscle Injuries

Muscle tissue can be damaged in many ways, from a car accident to being overzealous while playing a sport. To heal the damaged tissue, therapeutic massage may be the answer. By having a trained Massage Therapist apply pressure to the injured tissue, they are removing excess fluid and cellular waste products. This will encourage a speedy recovery. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, the treatment could take some time to prove effective, but once those muscles are healthy again, they should be as good as new.

Helps with Stroke Rehab

A stroke can be a very serious life changing event. Research has shown that when used in a rehabilitative setting, massage helps decrease cortisol levels and increase serotonin levels simultaneously in stroke patients. Swedish massage has also proven effective in stimulating circulation and increasing blood oxygen levels throughout the body by using long, fluid movements. Massage can help stroke patients get their thoughts back on track by encouraging blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can help repair damaged tissue. It can also help the patients relax and sleep, help improve memory loss and speech difficulty, and help reduce muscle weakness.

Helps Heal Scar Appearance

While it can be a long, arduous process, massage can help reduce the appearance of scar tissues, as long as the scar is less than two years old. The smaller the scar is, the better change there is to make it less noticeable. Massaging the scar will bring blood flow to the area, which can help reduce inflammation. As the collagen in the scar begins to disappear, the scar will eventually become less noticeable.

Helps Development of Infants

People are often surprised that babies can be massaged, but they too can benefit from regular gentle massages. In fact, infant massage is so popular, several cities have classes for parents on the subject. Some of the benefits of infant massage are: reduced crying, constipation relief, weight gain, mood enhancement, relief from teething discomfort, developing muscle tone and coordination, immune system enhancement, and encouraging sleep. In addition, it helps teach the infant awareness of their own body and it helps build a bond with the parent.

Helps Relieve Constipation

Belly massage can help release gas and get a sluggish digestive tract moving again. This type of massage can also help any stress or pain associated with constipation due to an illness such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s Disease. While most people find belly massages to be somewhat uncomfortable at first, the end results are often worthwhile.

Helps Patients with Cancer

More recently, massage therapy is being incorporated into cancer treatments. There are many benefits of massage for cancer patients, such as mood enhancement, sleep encouragement, emotional catharsis, and pain management. There are some types of cancer that are contraindicated for massage, such as some types of skin cancer, but the majority of cancer patients that have included massage into their treatment plan have seen their white blood cell count increase.

Having a Realistic Expectation of the Benefits of Massage Therapy

All these benefits are real, but they are also cumulative. It may require regular and frequent massage sessions to realize some of these benefits. It would be foolish to think that one or two trips to your local Massage Therapist will cure a chronic health issue. Like any good strengthening and training program, you will get back what you put in to it. It takes time for the body to heal itself, and it takes time for the results of massage to become apparent. However, once you commit to regular massages, all of these benefits can help give you a better quality of life.

Recent Posts