Massages have a great historical background, with some schools of thought saying that they even have spiritual and religious significance. Archaeological evidence shows that detailed knowledge of massage existed as far back as 2330 BC. Several ancient civilizations like India, Japan, China, Egypt, Rome and Greece propagated the art of massage and widely used it as a form of medicine.
From acupressure, reflexology, water massage and shiatsu, traditional massage therapy has undergone several variations, modifications and innovations which have made it what it is today. However, there’s no argument that massage is essential for overall well being. After all, Hippocrates himself has said that “The physician must be experienced in many things, but most assuredly in rubbing (massage).”
Here, we give you 25 great benefits of massage therapy. After all, you need to know what you are paying for!
#1. Alleviate Stress
Massage therapy is extremely effective in reducing your stress levels which tend to build up due to our fast paced lifestyle. This built up stress results in issues like anxiety, backaches, nervousness, poor focus and short temper.
In cases like these, massage therapy has the ability to affect the nervous system which is majorly responsible for all these issues. A massage with essential oils may help even further since they contain organic compounds which have a positive impact on the body’s nervous system. Massages counteract the negative reactions of our bodies to stress and anxiety, get your heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels and relax your muscles.
Gradually, it also helps increase the threshold of your stress management and you will be able to deal with it better.
#2. Relax Your Muscular System
Even a massage by an average masseur/ masseuse can help to relax your muscles. Your muscles are basically in the form of fibers, and each muscle group consists of a bunch of fibers or pipes clumped together. When they are put under stress, these pipes can get knotted up with each other and in turn, this reduces their length and causes stiffness of muscles and discomfort, sometimes even pain.
Massage therapy stretches and loosens the tense muscles and connective tissue that is attached to them. In a tense orientation, the muscles can’t hold much fluid and neither can they allow much fluid to pass through them. This reduces the circulation of blood. When these passages are opened up, the circulation improves and nutrients can be supplied in much higher quantities to these sites. This improves the healing speed and reduces soreness, weakness and fatigue.
#3. Reduce Chronic Pain
Most of us deal with chronic pain caused by various injuries and diseases on a regular basis. The reason for the pain is essentially the connective network of nerve fibres which transmit impulses of pain to the brain from the site of pain.
When you undergo massage therapy, your body releases a specific group of hormones called as endorphins. These endorphins are known to block the pain receptors and reduce the intensity and in some cases, over a period of time, totally relieve you of it due to a synergistic effect of other benefits combined with the endorphins’ role.
This helps you to get relief from chronic pain without having to resort to unnatural drugs which can have various side effects like addiction, renal issues and cardio-vascular conditions.
#4. Relieve Insomnia and Improve Quality of Sleep
The tension caused by daily exposure to stress leaves us exhausted, but it also affects our sleep which causes our exhaustion from one day to carry forward to the next, which results in increasing levels of stress- day by day. This causes several psychological issues as well as physical issues like heart problems, circulatory problems and reduced healing capacity of the body.
Massage therapy treats the symptoms, i.e., it relaxes muscles, calms down your nervous system, and slows down your breathing rate. Then, this is accompanied by the releases of serotonins- organic compounds produced by your body which help you fall asleep and also increase the quality of your sleep. It increases the duration of REM sleep- which is the time where your body heals and recovers from the day’s stress.
#5. Improve Cardio-vascular System
When blockages in the circulatory system exist, the heart (which tries to pump blood to every part of the body), gets messages from parts that don’t receive sufficient flow, and thus, naturally ramps up the pace at which it beats, driving up the heart rate as well as blood pressure which has severe issues over a long duration.
The flow of the hands used to massage you ensures that the flow of blood to various parts of your body from the heart is enhanced and helped along by the motion. This results in improved circulation throughout your body. Not only does this help you feel more energetic and speed up the healing of various small pains and discomfort, but it also helps to reduce the strain placed on the heart.
#6. Get Beautiful Skin
Massage therapy improves the circulation of blood to your skin as well, apart from you other body parts which explain why you feel flushed when you step out of the spa after a relaxing massage. Improved nutrition means that the body can replace damaged or dead skin tissue faster and give you a fresh, clear and glowing look.
Another benefit you gain is that the heat generated during the massage and by application of the various oils is that your skin’s sweat pores are opened and sweat pours out freely which cleans up dirt and dust that would have clogged your pores. This also allows contaminants like urea and other toxic impurities from your body to flow out resulting in a much cleaner system which is reflected in the texture and tenor of your skin.
#7. Improve Posture
When you are under a lot of physical stress or stuck in one position throughout the day, it can cause excessive fatigue in certain parts of the body. To provide relief to these parts, your body automatically modifies your posture slightly to reduce the strain on that part and transfers it to the surrounding areas instead.
This can result in issues like permanent bad posture, bent spines, shoulder pain, hip pain and other major issues which can be extremely problematic in the long run. Massage therapy helps to straighten your spine and reduce strain on affected body parts so that your posture can become natural again which results in relief from pain and discomfort.
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#8. Make Breathing Deeper and Easier
The amount of air you can breathe in one breath depends upon the size of your lungs. Your lungs are housed in your chest cavity and the size of this cavity also limits how much your lungs can open up. Therefore, any change in posture which causes the chest cavity to get compressed causes the lung space to get reduced and reduces the amount of oxygen you can take in.
This causes us to take shorter, faster breaths to keep our body supplied with oxygen. Shorter breaths end up making you anxious due to the brain’s natural response to interpreting it as a lack of oxygen. Massage therapy goes a long way in relieving the pressure on the chest and abdomen area, which helps it to open up, thereby freeing up more space for the lungs to expand and allow deeper breaths.
#9. Helps Premature Babies Improve Their Health
Pre-mature babies tend to have weaker systems overall, lesser weight and more health issues than normal babies. When they are massaged by experienced and certified masseurs/ masseuses, they can recover much faster and improve their health to be on par with other babies their age.
Massage therapy helps their bones to absorb calcium better and grow strong, and also help their weak hearts to circulate blood more efficiently thereby helping nutrition reach every part of the body and reducing the load on an already overworked system.
#10. Reduces Impact of Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are injuries that occur due to a long term impact of doing the same type of motion again and again- for example typing continuously over extended duration can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome which is caused due to the pinching of nerves in the wrist due to the unnatural position required to be maintained while typing. Bus drivers who drive automatic door buses need to lift their arm to pull the lever that opens the doors several times in a day. They suffer from severe shoulder pain.
Massaging these parts everyday can go a long way in delaying the onset of such conditions, at least until you can take out the time to address it properly. You can even do such massages by yourself since the only intention is to relieve the stress on that part.
#11. Alleviate Migraine
Those who suffer from migraine know and understand how debilitating this condition can be. Massage therapy is an effective way in conjunction with other treatments to alleviate this pain. A few weeks of massage therapy can help you combat this pain and get the sleep you require and work without the distracting throbbing in your head.
#12. Treat Side Effects of Cancer
Cancer is one disease where the treatment can cause as may issues as the disease in itself, especially when the treatment is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy takes a huge toll on your body and causes nausea, pain, depression, stress and fatigue to an already weak body and mind. Any alleviation in these conditions goes a long way in reducing the suffering a person faces due to this disease.
#13. Boost Digestion
The digestive system benefits a lot due to massage. The improved circulation that massage therapy brings your body helps to speed up the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat and also encourages better digestion.
This is because massages help to improve the peristaltic movements of the large intestine which helps the food go through it better, preventing buildup, which helps to relieve constipation, gas and colic.
It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system which plays a major role in simulating digestion.
#14. Promote Rehabilitation
Rehabilitating from an injury or accident can be extremely difficult. But studies have shown that there are several benefits of massage therapy in this aspect. Massages will help you heal injuries and reduce discomfort during your rehabilitation process. The soft tissue techniques which therapists employ are very effective in managing both chronic and acute injuries. Trigger point techniques also help in reducing spasms and pain which are common in injured muscles.
#15 Relief for Tired Eyes
With almost everyone working for long hours on computers, tired and exhausted eyes are becoming a very prevalent condition. Massaging eyes with essential and therapeutic oils like rose oil and employing specific massage techniques can be an excellent way to reduce stress on one of the most important sense organs of the body.
Improved circulation and relaxation of the muscles near the eyes can help a lot in reducing discomfort and tiredness.
#16. Support Pregnant Women
Pregnant women face a lot of stress- not just mentally, but also physically. It is a time of immense upheaval due to the load of volatile hormonal levels, carrying a lot more weight than one is used to and excessive tiredness due to lack of sleep and mental stress.
With regular massage therapy, pregnant women can experience alleviation in the stress on their muscles, improvement in discomfort and posture due to excessive strain on the spine, reduction in myofascial pain, cramps and muscle spasms, increased circulation of blood and lymph and gain physical nurturing and emotional support.
A healthy mother, after all can deliver a healthy baby and this helps her to nurture herself and the baby in times of high stress.
#17. Increase Joint Flexibility
Overused joints can stunt your health and cause health problems when subject to repetitive stress. Massage therapy helps to reduce the stored tension in these joints and increases their flexibility by providing them with the constant flow of nutrients they require.
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#18. Achieve Calmness of Mind
Keeping your mind calm is a major step in achieving happiness in life. It improves your efficiency in day to day work and keeps you relaxed from within. Massage therapy relaxes you by reducing blood pressure and releasing happiness hormones or serotonins. This not only affects your body but also helps your mind achieve that calmness you are looking for.
#19. Increase Self Awareness
The connection between the spiritual and the physical is as important as food for your body. Unless you have a connection with yourself from within, achieving a balanced state of mind is difficult. Massage therapy can help you with that since it helps you to relax and achieve a state of mind where you can focus on yourself from within and achieve that connection.
#20. Boost Mental Alertness
Massage therapy is very helpful in keeping your brain active with the increase in circulation and calming hormones that it helps release. This helps you to keep yourself alert at all times and makes you more aware of your surroundings as well as yourself.
#21. Avoid Injuries
Massage therapy helps sportsmen and those who are involved in particularly strenuous physical activities to keep their bodies, muscle, joints and ligaments strong and prevent injuries. This also helps to avoid injuries and problems caused due to old age. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
#22. Strengthen Immune System
There are several studies which show that massages help to improve immunity and assist you in fighting off infections and diseases. In fact, it has been shown to boost up the immunity of even HIV patients. It improves your blood flow and increases the number of blood cells which are directly involved in fighting off infections.
#23. Enhance Your Lymphatic System
Massage therapy helps the lymphatic system by increasing the circulation of lymphatic fluids in the body, which increases resistance towards diseases, reduces edema of extremities, eliminates lactic acid from sore muscles and helps them to recover.
#24. Improve the Renal System
Massages help to promote the process of excreting waste and toxins from the body. This relieves a lot of pressure from the kidneys and this helps them perform their job better and become more efficient. This results in an overall increased health of your body in general.
The kidneys can get clogged and show reduced functioning if they are overworked. Massages help to prevent this.
#25. Provide Support to Children With Special Needs
Massages are not just for physical ailments. Most kids who suffer from conditions which prevent them from performing normally tend to be uncomfortable around other people and feel awkward or uncomfortable when touched. For them, massages can be a great tool to increase comfort levels around other people. With the relaxation provided by massage therapy, they gradually become accustomed to touch and can be a part of the society and interact with others in a much better way.