Massage therapy can lower blood pressure, help prevent colds, enhance skin tone and more, according to an expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Licensed Massage Therapist Arnold Kelly, who provides massage therapy at the Outpatient Physical Therapy Clinic at the UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center, said massage provides two types of benefits: immediate and cumulative.
"Immediately following massage, you can experience reduced tightness in the muscles, improved blood flow and breathing, plus reduced anxiety and stress," Arnold explained.
"Over the long-term, the benefits of massage accumulate; massage can increase a person's range of motion, strengthen the immune system and provide an improved sense of well-being," Arnold added.
Stress seems to creep into the lives of almost everybody at some point, and Arnold said a massage can do a lot to help.
"Swedish and deep-tissue massages are two of the 'big four' types of massage," Arnold explained. "Swedish is for those who are interested in just relieving stress. If there are deeper aches and pains, deep tissue can help take care of it."
Neuromuscular and trigger point therapy are the other two major types of massage that have proven to be universally beneficial, according to Arnold.
"Clients often inquire about which form of massage therapy is right for them," Arnold said. "What you should look for and ask about are things like: how long the type of massage therapy has been around; how long the massage therapist has practiced it; what it is based on; and whether it focuses more on the physical or mental aspect."
How often massage therapy should be utilized varies from person to person.
"Someone who has little to no physical issues and is simply looking to relax and unwind can benefit from massage as little as once a month," Arnold said. "Someone who has a problem that can benefit from regular massage can be seen as often as once a day. My regular clients average about once a week."
Arnold recommends those considering massage first visit a physician to see if this form of therapy will help then choose a licensed therapist.