Benefits of Massage Therapy
Science has proven that massage benefits are vast in their reach and healing abilities. Extensive research explains that there are three main principles to understand about how we benefit from massage therapy. The studies have shown that massage helps promote flexibility and cut down on tension, increase blood flow and improve lymphatic flow, and raise the levels of endorphins in the body. These three benefits have a ripple effect on several other systems in the body. Here are more details on these three principles.
Massage Raises Endorphin Levels
Some professionals in the wellness field believe this to be the most favorable benefit. Considering endorphins role in the body as being the “feel good” compounds, there is no doubt why people rave about this major positive effect. Research has also proved that increases in endorphin levels have been associated with a reduction in pain, a reduction in anxiety, and a faster healing process.Massage Increases Lymphatic Flow and Boosts Blood Flow
Applying massage to the muscles helps improve both blood flow and lymphatic flow. Increases in blood flow helps the body transport and absorb nutrients more effectively, and an increase in lymphatic flow helps dissolve toxins and refresh the massaged area.Massage Helps Promote Flexibility and Cut Down On Tension
Basic massage therapy, even in the form of stretching and mild kneading helps muscles loosen and become more relaxed. This also makes them more flexible and relieves muscle tension.
16 Benefits of Massage Therapy
1) Provides Stress Relief
As stress accumulates in the body, there are key regions in which more tension is being held. Massage of the fine muscles located within the suboccipital region of the skull, and the upper fibers of the trapezius muscle, can help release built up tension, providing a stress relieving alternative to aspirin and other pharmaceuticals.
2) Helps with Managing Anxiety and Depression anxiety can come at anytime and from anywhere. Take control of the situation by massaging hypersensitive areas of the body that help stimulate the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically Serotonin and Dopamine. Studies have shown that increasing the production of these two neurotransmitters can help lower depression.
3) Aids in Pain Relief
Back pain can be almost unbearable after a long day at work. Muscles, bones, and other soft tissues that have been working overtime trigger pain receptors. These receptors then send a signal to the brain, indicating that there is pain, in the back region. Massage can provide great relief to these structures in the back, which will eliminate the need for the pain receptors to communicate with the brain, leading to a decrease in back pain.
4) Helps Relieve Stiffness
Joint and muscle stiffness is an issue that can be extremely uncomfortable, and severely hamper one’s ability to perform routine ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living). There are many reasons for joint and muscle stiffness, however the primary cause is a lack of movement. Massage promotes lubricating membranes within the joint to release synovial fluid, which allows the articulating bones to move freely over each other with reduced friction and pain. Furthermore, built up scar tissue on and around the muscles can be decreased when correct pressure is applied to the affected area. Massage helps to free any scar tissue or connective tissue adhesion's that may be contributing to muscle stiffness.
5) Promotes Endorphins Release
As the bodies natural reward system, endorphins are neurotransmitters that are released when an individual has feelings of pleasure or euphoria. Released by the brain, endorphins can also act as the bodies natural pain killers and have also been associated with improved memory and learning. Often referred to as the “runners high”, many different activities can stimulate the release of endorphins. Your body and mind are rewarded through massage.
6) Helps with Blood Pressure Control
Cardiovascular health and efficient circulation are two things that can help aide in blood pressure control. Massage benefits the circulatory system by increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cells, therefore reducing the amount of pressure needed to maintain efficient delivery. Because the heart doesn’t have to work so hard to generate pressure for oxygen and nutrient delivery, the entire cardiovascular system is reaps the benefits of massage. Furthermore, the Zero Gravity position offered by some companies is yet another way to reduce overall blood pressure and increase cardiovascular health.
7) Helps Speed Up Recovery from Sports-Related Injuries
Sports and injuries go hand-in-hand. Just as day and night, and peanut butter and jelly, you can’t have one without the other. The sport or activity that was the cause of injury can vary greatly. However, the types of injuries that are sustained during these sports and activities are primarily the same; which means that treatment protocol is similar as well. Massage assists in recovery in countless ways and can be a great adjunct to physical therapy or rehabilitation program. In fact, most physical therapy programs consist of some type of deep tissue massage, active release technique, acupressure or soft tissue mobilization which is all various forms of massage.
8) Boosts Immunity by Enhancing the Lymph Flow and the Body’s Natural Defense System
As metabolic byproducts, toxins and cellular waste accumulate within the interstitial fluid, what is not taken back up into the blood stream is left for the lymphatic system to absorb. The lymphatic system is a system of vessels that is located throughout the body, everywhere blood vessels are located, and acts as a secondary waste removal system for the body’s unwanted trash. Acting as a press or rolling pin, massage can help push interstitial fluid into the lymphatic vessels and promote the absorption of cellular debris. Once absorbed into the lymphatic system, white blood cells can attack and kill foreign invaders, and interstitial fluid can be filtered back into the circulatory system, therefore enhancing immunity.
9) Pumps Oxygen and Nutrients into Tissues and Vital Organs with Improved Circulation
As a part of the cardiovascular system, arterial blood (oxygenated blood) is delivered to the body’s cells and tissues by a high pressure distribution system of arteries and capillaries. Proteins, hormones and other essential nutrients for life are also distributed in this manner. While the heart provides adequate pressure for the delivery of these components, massage can increase the efficiency at which they are delivered and absorbed. Cardiovascular health can also be improved by reducing the amount of pressure required by the heart, while maintaining the same content delivery rate. Furthermore, cardiovascular health can be improved with massage by maintaining vascular health. Arterial blood vessels are very elastic, which helps aide in oxygen and nutrient delivery. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries, which reduces the elasticity of the vessel, therefore decreasing the efficiency of the oxygen and nutrient delivery.
10) Aids in Cancer Treatment
The battle with cancer is a fight that no person should have to face. However, when cancer does appear, it is best to fight back with a strong team. A team can include everyone from family members and friends, to doctors, therapists and secretaries. While a reliable cure is still yet to be found, there are a variety of different methods that are used to combat the spread and metastasis of tumors and cancer. With all of the treatment methods that are available, the benefits of massage have been found time and again to produce positive results, and help patients fight the battle. Massage has helped patients in a number of ways by improving overall circulation, relaxing tight muscles, relieving anxiety, and reducing the need for prescription medications. Patients have also seen their mood improve and overall attitude become more positive due to the increase in endorphins when using a massage. While many treatments can leave a patient unable to leave the house, a massage chair can be a great tool to help fight the battle versus cancer. If you have cancer talk to your Doctor first before applying any type of massage therapy.
11) Promotes the Detoxification Process
Another part of the cardiovascular system, the venus blood (deoxygenated blood) is returned to the heart by a low pressure collecting system of veins and capillaries. The body’s cells and tissues produce metabolic waste such as carbon dioxide, acids, and free radicals that need to be removed from the area, and put back into recirculation. Because the heart provides very little pressure for venus blood return, veins are equipped with a special set of valves that act as fluid locks to return blood to the heart. As metabolic waste is collected by the veins and capillaries, massage can help stimulate the skeletal muscle pump which directly aides in pushing blood back to the heart by utilizing the veins’ system of valves. In addition, pressure at key regions can help to increase metabolic waste absorption by the veins and capillaries, as well as the lymphatic system. Massage promotes the detoxification process by increasing the amount of waste removal from the tissues, and increasing vascular health and efficiency.
12) Helps Ease Medication Dependence
Prescription drugs and medications play a huge role in common American medicine. These days, it is common practice to give a patient a prescription or a medication to help resolve a problem that can usually be fixed by lifestyle modifications. Blood pressure drugs, cholesterol medications, and pain killers are three of the most popular drugs that are prescribed today. As an alternative to the doctor prescribed medications, many individuals have turned to a technique that has been used for thousands of years. While massage may not help cure every single ailment, it has been shown to provide adequate improvements to many of the same issues that are usually addressed by medications. For example, high blood pressure can be improved my massaging the lower extremities, increasing the blood flow back to the heart, and increasing the body’s overall circulation. Individuals who complain of headaches or depression have used massage to help decrease the amount of tightness or muscle tension in specific areas, which decreases the pain or discomfort that is associated. And levels of endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine can be altered helping one decrease depression, and increase optimism. These are just a few ways in which massage has helped reduce the use and dependence of medications.
13) Helps Exercise and Stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles
The benefits of massage on muscle tissue could be an entire book in itself! The day to day rigors that muscle tissue must endure creates small tears, or micro –trauma within the tissue and the thin connective tissue sheath. As the tissue heals, Type II collagen, or “scar tissue” is used to help repair and regenerate the affected tissue. Intense exercise and injuries are the two most common ways of developing an accumulation of scar tissue. When an individual has an abundance of scar tissue, and is unable to stretch, massage acts as a great method for freeing up scar tissue, and increasing movement and flexibility. This is especially important for those individuals who are sedentary and do not participate in a stretching routine. Muscle tissue is benefited the most from massage, and is a primary component in a number of other massage benefits that I have mentioned. Weak, tight, or atrophied muscles are constantly in need of increased circulation. Massage helps facilitate the movement of blood, nutrients and fluids into, and out of the muscle cells. Also, massage can help with the removal of metabolic waste within the muscle cells enhancing recovery and improving flexibility.
14) Helps reduce post-surgery adhesions and swelling
Surgical procedures are never enjoyable, and neither is the rehabilitation that follows. Help ease the stress of hospital beds, visitation hours and medical bills by introducing the benefits of massage into your own home. Both swelling and edema can have negative affects on the healing process, and also indicate that the area needs to be attended to. Massage helps to reduce swelling by pushing interstitial fluid back into circulation for transport, as well helping to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the healing site. Secondly, the tissue that is healing must also be stretched and mobilized to prevent scar tissue from binding to surrounding muscles and other soft tissue. Massage can help by continuously providing mobilization of the affected area to reduce adhesions, as well as assist with oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cell which has been restricted due to immobilization.
15) Promotes an increase joint flexibility
Flexibility is a key component in keeping one’s body healthy. Synovial joints, or freely moving joints, are bone to bone connections that allow our body to manipulate itself in a variety of different ways. There are many options to choose from when addressing joint health and flexibility; however massage can provide benefits that other techniques may not. Most of the largest and most feely moving joints are synovial joints like the knee, hip and shoulder. Massage can help stimulate the production of synovial fluid, especially in weight bearing joints, by allowing the joint capsules to be relieved of the everyday stresses of work. With no weight being bared, the action of massage creates very subtle joint manipulations which cause the synovial membrane to secrete more synovial fluid for increased joint health.
16) Helps relieve migraine pain
While the exact reasons of why migraine headaches occur are still unknown, it is believed to be caused by a neurovascular disorder that has been associated with both environmental and genetic factors. The treatment and medications that are available are fairly generic, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, massage has also been proven to be an effective way to help treat migraine pain. Massage can be utilized in a way that reduces the amount of physiological stress or “triggers” that are associated with migraine headaches. As mentioned previously, some common physiological triggers can be as simple as stress, hunger, fatigue, and hormonal influence, which also contribute to tension headaches. By minimizing some of the environmental factors, massage can help reduce the onset of symptoms, therefore limiting the frequency of migraines overall. Although we can’t modify our genetic code; massage is a comfortable, non-invasive alternative to pharmaceutical medications and other expensive therapies or treatments.