The Benefits of Massage Therapy
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress.
This translates into:
Enhanced sleep quality.
Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, and always seek medical attention when you are experiencing pain beyond muscle soreness.
So how good to you want to feel? The list of benefits massage offers your body, mind and spirit is extensive. Some highlights:
More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain. In fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain -- reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.
Another type of pain -- headache -- also responds to massage therapy, as shown by more than one study. Massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system.
A review of more than 12 studies shows that massage helps relieve depression and anxiety. It lowered levels of cortisol by up to 50%. And massage increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.
Clients suffering from conditions such as ALS, MS, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson's all appreciate the relief massage therapy offers them.
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:
Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
Preterm infants have improved weight gain.
Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospitals, hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are incorporating on-site massage practitioners to treat post-surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.
Useful for all of the conditions listed and more, massage can:
Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
Ease medication dependence.
Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
Increase joint flexibility.
Lessen depression and anxiety.
Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
Reduce post-surgery adhesions and swelling.
Reduce spasms and cramping.
Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
Relieve migraine pain.
Referenced material to further explore: