Is there anything more relaxing than the feeling of a deep-tissue massage? Sure, there’s a little momentary discomfort when the kneading starts, but 30 seconds in you’re going to be collapsed in a pile of jelly and good feelings and be glowing for the next week.
Honestly, we could probably end the article there. But we won’t, because you should know about the positive health benefits of massages that aren’t immediately obvious.
1. They’re a medical tool
For starters, did you know that 54% of massages are had for medical purposes?
The primary use for massages is pain management and rehabilitation from injury. In fact, only 23% of all massages from the survey were taken to relax or reduce stress (and of that, only 11% was as an indulgence or pampering).
Massages may feel good, but they also have serious medical applications for people who are suffering from chronic conditions, pain relief from joints, muscle soreness, and injury rehabilitation. For anyone lucky enough to not be suffering one of these conditions, a massage will still help you to maintain your body stress and soreness. You’ll see an improvement in your ability to work and play just from sitting back and taking a load off.
2. They’re good for the heart
A good massage improves your blood circulation, lowering your blood pressure and cortisol as well as relaxing your muscles. Definitely a plus for anyone trying to overcome arthritis or just general sluggishness during the day.
A 2008 study found that after just one session, people who underwent massage treatment had their average blood pressure fall by 10 mg Hg, and their heart rate by 10 bpm.
Undergoing massage therapy effectively gives you the short-term effects of taking blood pressure medication without the side effects, and is great for anyone trying to keep their blood pressure down. It’s also a great supplement for anyone with a diagnosable condition (check with your medical professionals beforehand).
Your heart is also responsible for pumping blood around the body, meaning that a combination of helping your arterial flow and relaxing those muscles will promote a steady flow of energy throughout the day. This will help you get more stuff down and feel less tired and frustrated while doing it.
3. They’re good for the mind
What’s good for the body is usually good for the mind as well. In the same way that regular exercise has been linked with treating depression and anxiety, getting your blood pumping helps you think with more clarity.
Massage therapy has research linking it to lowered headache frequency and intensity, for those of us who routinely feel like we have to escape our own minds.
It’s also been shown to decrease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, which might suggest that it’s good for anyone trying to kickstart a healthy new lifestyle. If it works for strong cases such as alcohol, it’ll blast any withdrawals from trying to cut down on your caffeine or sugar out of the water!
4. They’re good for the butt
You do a lot of sitting during the day. Too much sitting in fact, in office chairs, at dining tables, on public transport, or in the car. Posture is a big problem in our society, and it contributes to a heck of a lot of stress buildup in the lower back and glutes (but can also manifest in shoulder and neck strain).
A deep tissue massage can help counterbalance the effects of too much sitting. Getting a posture chair or similar will also help you feel less sore after a day at the office, but there’s nothing quite as good as getting all the knots out with a guiding hand.
5. They help your sleep and improve mental wellbeing
Anyone who’s ever drifted off on the massage table might have guessed that this was one of them, but massages are proven to help you sleep.
The Touch Research Institute found that people who underwent massage therapy had an increase in the production of Delta Waves — those are the beasties responsible for deep sleep, the kind that you really need — in respondents.
That same research showed that people in the massage group (lucky sods) “showed increased speed and accuracy on math computations”, lowered their alpha and beta waves (that’s a good thing!), and displayed overall less anxiety across the board. Wow.
6. And just off the top of my head…
Massage therapy has been linked to treatment in fields as diverse as anorexia, anxiety, burns, depression, headaches, various pregnancy woes, premenstrual syndrome, and have been used to lower the effects of sexual abuse and promote relaxation in dancers and other high physicality professions.
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