Just as your consistent exercise plan reaps big benefits, massage does more for you if you engage in it regularly. Even a monthly treatment can help you maintain general health. “Touch is basic to survival and that’s all the excuse anyone should need to indulge. A weekly massage may seem an indulgence, but new research suggests it can have major health benefits,” says Elliot Greene, past president of AMTA [American Massage Therapy Association].
Luckily, regular massage is easily accessible for everyone. It is no longer available only through luxury spas and upscale health clubs. Today, massage therapy is offered everywhere from businesses, clinics, hospitals to even airports.
Dampen Stress and Raise Your Mood
Massage has the ability to raise mood-elevating brain chemicals such as serotonin and scientists are now finding that massage can also reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and dampen harmful stress hormones. So powerful, doctors have started prescribing massage to help patients manage both pain and stress. And many health care providers share in the cost. Mark Rapaport, MD, the chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his own curiosity led to a published study that looked at 53 healthy adults who received one of two types of touch treatments. Those who had received a Swedish massage with moderate pressure experienced decreases in stress hormones and increases in white blood cells, indicating a boost in the immune system, as revealed blood tests. There is a growing body of research, including this Cedars-Sinai study, that shows a link between many forms of touch—from massage to hand-holding—and improved health.
Relax and Stimulate the Body’s Communication Lines
Your body strives to keep all of its systems in balance and, thereby, maintain optimum health. Just as proper nutrition, exercise and rest help to keep you feeling your best, massage relaxes tense muscles and stimulates the body’s communication lines to help it do its job.
There are few things that can compete with massage for relaxation. Studies show that babies fall asleep faster when massaged than when simply rocked. Interestingly, they stay asleep, rather than waking the moment their mother tiptoes away.
Same Category as Proper Diet and Exercise
As well put by Tiffany Field, founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, “All these factors puts massage in the same category with proper diet and exercise as something that helps maintain overall health.”
In conclusion, you owe it to your health to brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. To the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your personal well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are just looking for another stress reliever. Pick up the phone and book your first massage and be sure to carve out room for more!
Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.