We talk a lot about diet, exercise and especially nutrition here, which makes sense given that we are a nutrition company.  Diet, exercise, and proper nutrition are not all that you need for good health.  To be truly healthy requires taking care of your body, your mind, and your spirit.  Your diet, mood, cognitive ability, physical health, and immune health are in a complex balancing act.  Each one is connected to the others, having profound effects upon each other.  Healing one of these areas will benefit the others while neglecting any one of them can bring them all crashing down.  Which leads me to this month’s tip:  Massage therapy is not just a great way to heal your body, it’s also one of the most pleasant things you can do for your health!

Massage Therapy Benefits Include, but are not limited to:

  • Relieves stress and aids relaxation
  • Relieves muscle tension and stiffness
  • Fosters faster healing
  • Reduces pain and swelling
  • Reduces the formation of scar tissue
  • Reduces muscle spasms
  • Provides greater flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhances athletic performance
  • Treats injuries caused during sport or work
  • Improves circulation of blood and lymph fluids
  • Helps Improves posture, reducing neck and back pain
  • Aids in rehabilitation after injury or operation

There's no denying the many benefits of massage. Whether you seek out a massage therapist for stress relief, to “treat yourself”, to pain management, or just out of curiosity, it can help you in ways you never imagined, and should become a part of your regular healthcare regimen.

The Greatest of Side Effects

Stress is a leading cause of disease, whether it be infectious, heart disease, sleep disorders, high blood pressure or any number of stress-related issues.  Few things age us faster than stress, either internally and externally.  Sadly, it is not possible to eliminate stress completely from our lives, but massage therapy can help manage stress. Reduced stress leads to decreased anxiety, improving your mood and overall outlook.  It enhances sleep in both quantity and quality, providing you with greater energy, a clearer head, improved concentration and reduced fatigue.  Reducing your stress also helps to improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Many even claim they receive a sense of perspective and clarity after a massage. The emotional balance it provides is just as valuable as the physical benefits.

All powerful health benefits, affecting your mind, body, and spirit, and this is just from the reduced stress associated with massage therapy.  Which is amazing when you consider that reduced stress is just a side effect of massage, it’s not even the primary purpose.

The Primary Purpose

Massage targets your muscles, increase blood flow to the tissue through manual manipulation, which can be said to be the primary goal of massage, and has some excellent effects on the body.  Massage addresses soreness, tension, and injury by promoting blood flow to the affected areas.

We associate back pain with overworking your muscles, but most neck, back and muscle pain from a far more mundane activity: sitting.  Yes, chronic back pain, which is the second most common cause of disability and a top reason for missing work, is often the result of improper posture while sitting and standing.  Carrying extra weight, poor posture, and repetitive movements all put a strain on the back, this often results in spasms, tense muscles, and pain in your upper back, hips, glutes and hamstrings. Massage relaxes tense muscles and increasing flexibility by encouraging blood flow, which brings increased oxygen and nutrients.  Increased blood flow also reduces swelling and stiffness.  Massage therapy also releases endorphins and boosts your levels of serotonin and dopamine, all hormones your body produces to help you feel great, promote healing and pain management, and calm your nerves.

Deep Tissue Massage focuses on deeper tissue structures with intense pressure to release chronic muscle tension and ultimately relax the body. Muscle injuries are more and more common with each passing year, and it's not because we're more active.  On the contrary, it's because we're more sedentary. What's worse, as we age our joints tend to tighten, restricting our range of motion and flexibility.

Massage therapy maintains and improves flexibility.  Working on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissues regularly improves flexibility and range of motion, making joints less injury prone.

Incorporating massage, along with stretching, into your routine will reduce soreness after activity.  Stretching beforehand allows for more freedom of movement and longer workout periods by preventing lactic acid build up. Regular post-workout massages aid in recovery and relaxation.

Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard injury rehabilitation procedures. By stimulating circulation and loosening muscles, it helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into vital organs and tissues, allowing the area(s) being rehabilitated to heal at an accelerated rate.

From a sprained ankle or twisted knee to muscle spasms or broken bones, massage can provide the opportunity for faster recovery. With the pressure of the therapist's hands improving blood flow, muscles become warmer. By stretching tight tissues and breaking down adhesions, massage can help flush out swelling in joints, allowing for quicker healing.

Unexpected Benefits

Massage causes many physiological and chemical changes to occur in the body, and the effects are profound.  Research shows that with massage:

  • Fewer aches and less stiffness and pain, even in those who suffer from arthritis
  • Decreases migraines and tension headaches
  • Asthmatic children have shown increased peak air flow and even better lung function
  • Reduced pain, itching, and anxiety in patients suffering from burns
  • Lower diastolic blood pressures in patients with high blood pressure
  • Decreased water retention and cramping during menstruation
  • Premature infants have shown improved weight gain

Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits

Getting a massage can do you a lot of good.  Getting a massage regularly is even better.  Making massage a  part of your regular self-care will play a huge part in how healthy.  Not to mention how youthful you will remain.  Just because massage feels like pampering treat doesn't mean it is any less therapeutic. It just happens to be one of the most enjoyable healthy things you can do for your body.