When we are stressed or experiencing tension, our bodies naturally produce unhealthy levels of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone, which can cause insomnia, digestive problems, headaches, and weight gain. Massage therapy has been proven to decrease cortisol levels in the body, thus reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Studies have specifically found massage to be effective in dealing with academic stress, job stress, and stress in preterm infants.
Massage Reduces Heart Rate and Lowers Blood Pressure
Massage therapy reduces one’s heart rate and blood pressure levels. In fact, some long-term studies have found that a consistent massage program can reduce both the systolic (the “top” number measuring the pressure on arteries during an active heart beat) and diastolic (the “bottom” number measuring the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats) blood pressure.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that over 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, which may lead to stroke and heart attack. A study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that people suffering from hypertension who had ten 30-minute massages over the course of five weeks, had lower blood pressure at the end of the five-week period. Similarly, according to a 2013 report published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, patients with pre-hypertension who received massage therapy on a regular basis had lower mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures than those who did not receive regular massages.
Massage Promotes Muscle Relaxation
Massage increases circulation and encourages blood flow to injured or overworked muscles providing more nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues. The increased circulation also helps remove toxins from the muscles. Additionally, massage releases endorphins (natural pain-killing hormones), which boost the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. The application of pressure to muscle fibers stretches the muscles fibers that have contracted and reduces adhesions that exist within the tissue.
Massage Improves Circulation
Massage increases circulation and brings tired, damaged, and tense muscles the rich blood supply they need to promote healing. Massage is especially beneficial in promoting the circulation of lymphatic fluid and helping to remove metabolic waste from our bodies. Our lymphatic system removes waste from our bodies because muscle contractions physically compress our lymphatic vessels causing lymphatic fluid to flow. Massage aids this process and there is a specific massage technique called lymphatic drainage massage designed especially for this purpose.
Massage Improves Posture
People experience back, neck, and other muscular pain from a variety of sources. Often, the catalyst of the pain is poor posture. We spend a good portion of our day sitting in front of a computer at home or work, sitting in a conference room, sitting in a car or bus on our way to and from work, and sitting in front of the television in the evening when we arrive home. Because we are tired, overworked, and spend much of our day sitting in positions of poor posture, some degree of neck or backpain is all but guaranteed. Furthermore, repetitive use and/or overuse of specific muscles can also contribute to poor posture. Our muscles work together in order to keep our bodies in proper alignment. When we sit in awkward positions or overwork certain muscles, the overworked muscles become tight or torn while the muscles that we are not using become weaker, causing postural problems.
Massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment. It can relieve tight muscles, help break down muscular adhesions, and improve range of motion through techniques of passive stretching and certain massage strokes. Effleurage massage strokes, for example, can help elongate neck muscles that have become shortened by slouching and sitting with our head bent forward. The bottom line is that massage can drastically help improve one’s posture and relieve some of the effects of poor posture.
Massage Strengthens the Body’s Immune System
Massage can boost our immune system by increasing the number of lymphocytes in our bodies. Lymphocytes, or white blood cells, play a vital role in defending our bodies from disease. Massage also helps remove toxins from our bodies through our lymphatic system.
Massage Promotes Deeper Breathing and Lung Function
Muscles in the upper back and abdomen aid in our respiratory function. When these muscles and their adjoining fascia become tight, and the muscles themselves become shortened, they can restrict our normal breathing. Massage can help to lengthen and relax these muscles, and remove adhesions in the fascia, thus improving our lung function. Massage also affects the parasympathetic nervous system allowing deeper and more relaxed breathing
Massage for Headache Relief
According to the National Headache Foundation, approximately 30 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Often, these headaches are triggered or exacerbated by stress, fatigue, and insufficient sleep. In a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, researchers found that participants who received massages had better quality sleep, experienced less stress, and had fewer migraines than participants who didn’t.
Similarly, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that headache frequency among chronic non-migraine sufferers was significantly reduced when massage therapy was directed toward the neck and shoulder muscles.
The next time you find yourself suffering from a tension or migraine headache, try booking a last-minute massage with us. Since massage can reduce the frequency and severity of your future headaches, it is even a good idea to schedule a preventative massage that will help to relax the neck and shoulder muscles before a headache even sets in.
Massage Reduces Muscle Tension
Muscle tension is often caused by overuse, injury, poor posture, and even stress. When muscles are tight, they are contracted and the range of motion becomes restricted, often resulting in pain. Massage is one of the most effective ways to treat muscle tension. Massage can lengthen tight muscles and release contracted muscles, providing almost instant relief. The application of heat through Hot Stone Massage is also effective in relaxing muscle fibers, making it a great addition to any massage.
Massage Helps Rid the Body of Toxins
Massage can help to remove toxins from our bodies in many ways. Generally, because massage increases circulation, it improves the filtration and elimination process that takes place within our bodies. Also, to the extent that massage improves our respiratory function, it allows for a more unrestricted uptake of oxygen and more efficient elimination of gaseous toxins. Perhaps the most dramatic benefit that massage can have on the removal of toxins from our bodies is its effect on the lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system carries lymphocytes throughout our bodies to combat and neutralize harmful toxins and bacteria. Massage increases lymph flow and thus aids in the expulsion of harmful toxins from our bodies.
Massage Helps Fibromyalgia Patients
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by muscle pain, fatigue and tenderness. According to the American College of Rheumatology, the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be brought on or exacerbated by stress and/or lack of sleep. Massage has been found to help relieve stress as well as alleviate muscle pain, discomfort and spasms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. The National Fibromyalgia Association, reports that roughly 40 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers use massage as part of their complementary treatment plan.
Massage Promotes Lymph Flow
The lymphatic system is the part of our immune system that rids the body of waste and toxins. While our heart constantly pumps blood through our blood vessels, our lymphatic system relies on pressure and the movement of our muscles to transport lymph through our lymphatic vessels. Massage is a proven means by which to mechanically increase the flow of lymph through these vessels and toward the heart where it enters the bloodstream and is subsequently expelled from our bodies. When blockages occur within the lymphatic system, excess fluid collects in our tissue (edema) causing painful swelling. This condition is known as lymphedema. Lymphatic drainage massage provides an effective relief for lymphedema sufferers as it helps to move the lymph and reduce swelling and pain.
Massage Helps Satisfy Our Need for Touch
From the day that we are born, we crave physical contact and nurturing. Massage, among its many other benefits, helps to fulfill this basic need for touch. Many of us take for granted the physical contact that we receive on a regular basis from our children, parents, spouses, etc. The elderly, on the other hand, whether they live alone or are in nursing homes, often don’t receive the physical attention and nurturing that they require. It is surprising what a one-hour massage can do to a touch-deprived individual.
We will be glad to visit your elderly parent, grandparent, friend or other relative either at our office, their home, or in a nursing facility so that they may receive the physical contact that they often require. Our geriatric massage is delivered with less pressure than our typical massage and takes into account the special needs and medical concerns of the elderly.
Massage Improves Skin Health and Appearance
Your skin is your bodies largest organ. Massage helps to increase blood circulation, exfoliate dead skin cells, and remoisturize and rehydrate the skin. The increased circulation encourages cell regeneration and assists in excreting waste products. Facial massage relaxes the muscles of the face helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Massage Enhances Athletic Performance
Massage before an athletic event improves muscle pliability and helps reduce muscle strain and spasms. Massage, following an athletic event, significantly shortens the recovery time of overworked muscles. It can also reduce inflammation and swelling.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that muscles massaged following exercise recovered about 60 percent of their strength while muscles that rested without massage only recovered about 14 percent of strength during the same time period. Another study at McMaster University found reduced inflammation in the muscle tissue of patients that received massage compared to those who received no massage. This study was significant as it was the first study to examine human muscle tissue through actual biopsy of the muscle following exercise.
Massage Helps Relieve Pain
Therapeutic massage can be used to treat a wide range of painful conditions including post-operative pain, fibromyalgia pain, pain related to rheumatoid arthritis, headache pain, temporal mandibular joint pain, and the most common, lower back pain.
Reduce Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful condition in which the nerves that connects the forearm and hand (median nerves) becomes pinched or entrapped at the wrist. Symptoms include inflammation, burning, tingling or numbness in the palm, thumb and middle fingers. It can become difficult to grasp things, form a fist or carry small objects. It is often associated with long-term repetitive movements or strain. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often treated with anti-inflammatory or steroidal medications, wrist braces and even surgery. Massage, however, may be the most cost-effective and non-invasive treatment for carpal tunnel for many of those suffering from this debilitating injury. By lengthening the muscles and releasing adhesions in the neck, shoulders, arm, wrist, and hand, massage has proven to be a very effective treatment.
Massage Improves Balance in Older Adults
A study in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found that regular massage significantly reduces heart rate (balance) in adults over 65 years of age. Other studies have found that foot massage is “an effective treatment for balance performance, range of motion, and the foot sensation in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy.”
Massage Improves Sleep
Several studies have been conducted regarding the effects of massage on sleep for a variety of patients including those suffering from fibromyalgia, coronary artery bypass, end-stage renal disease, dementia, breast cancer, pre-term infant birth, and a multitude of other conditions and illnesses. All of these studies found that massage is an effective method to improve sleep quality by either reducing pain, slowing heart rate, or releasing serotonin to promote sleep.
Massage helps Depression
According to the Mayo Clinic, a 60-minute massage can reduce the stress-related hormone cortisol in our bodies and increase the dopamine and serotonin levels. These biochemical changes often lead to the conclusion that massage is addictive. Massage also fulfills our basic need for touch and can help to relieve feelings of loneliness. Sometimes just having someplace to escape the stress of everyday life and having someone to communicate with is therapeutic in and of itself.
Massage Increases Range of Motion
Increasing range of motion and retaining flexibility is the key to avoiding injuries. Massage can help one maintain flexibility and range of motion by stretching the muscles, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, and by stimulating the production of the natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers.
Massage Improves Cardiovascular Health
We are all aware that high blood pressure can lead to cardio vascular issues such as stroke, heart disease, and hypertension. Several recent studies have found that massage significantly reduces heart rate and blood pressure in women with hypertension.
Massage Relieves Chemotherapy Induced Nausea
A study conducted at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology determined that massage significantly reduces nausea in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.