Over recent times, therapeutic massage has become a much more accepted treatment for a large number of conditions. Research is indicating that massage can lower blood pressure, provide a boost to the immune system, reduce the impact of some hormones which can be released during stressful times and increase the levels of mood -lifting chemicals such as serotonin.
Scientific research is beginning to support many of the claims regarding the benefits of massage and some of these listed below.
Decreased muscle and joint pain/Improved Posture
Massage frees muscles, connective tissue and other soft tissue of restrictions in the form of knots, trigger points, adhesions. Long term internal stress patterns can be unlocked through the mechanical manipulation and lengthening of the soft tissue.
Injuries and tight muscles can significantly impact on an individual’s posture. After a while muscles that were not affected start to compensate for postural abnormalities elsewhere in the body. For example, hip pain will lead to a favouring of one side of the body with corresponding compensation around the neck and shoulders, potentially resulting in headaches. Regular massage can begin to address the problem in a holistic manner (not just treating the source of the pain) leading to lower pain coupled with greater mobility and flexibility.
Improved sporting performance
Regular massage can assist all athletes recover from strenuous training and prepare for competition by increasing blood flow to muscles along with improving the functionality through lengthening of the muscles.
Reduction in Stress Levels
Regular massage reduces stress levels, promotes better sleep quality and increases the production of endorphin. These provide an individual with a natural sense of wellness and regular treatments allow the body/mind to go from sympathetic activity to parasympathetic activity, as the mind slows down and relaxes.
Lower blood pressure
Studies have indicated that regular massage can reduce the blood pressure levels of those suffering from high blood pressure.
Improved lymph flow
Many of the body’s waste products are eliminated through the lymphatic system. Any manipulation of the muscles (in particular on the limbs) can facilitate drainage of the lymphatic system. Regular massages support the normal operation and homeostasis of the lymphatic system (particularly in sedentary individuals).
Improved immune system
Research indicates that there is correlation between stress levels and general health. Highly stressed people have more sickness than those do with lower stress in their lives. In addition to the stress reducing benefits of regular massage, studies have indicated that massage can increase the natural capability of the bodies own ‘killer cells’, the cryotoxic ability.
This is not intended to be a definitive list of the benefits of regular massage, merely an attempt to point out some of those that are likely to impact on the majority of the general population.
How often should I have a massage?
There is no correct answer to this question and it can vary significantly depending upon what is going on with your body, injuries/ailments, lifestyle and stress levels. Some people prefer to visit their therapist when injured or suffering in pain with, for example, headaches. However, just like exercise, massage is generally more beneficial if it is undertaken regularly. A simple answer to the question is to have a massage as often as you can afford the time and the money. If you are in good health then monthly massages can assist in maintaining general health whereas more frequent trips to your therapist may be more appropriate at other times in your life.
Your body attempts to maintain optimum health and homeostasis by keeping its systems in balance. When combined with good diet, sufficient exercise and good sleep habits, then massage facilitates the body in maintaining this homeostasis so that you feel fit, healthy and fantastic. With our hectic lifestyles, making massage a regular part of your health maintenance routine should no longer considered a luxury but a necessity.