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Massage Therapy Is A Health Medicine

Hanako Wilson Jun 18, 2013

 

            With today’s technology and advancements, new medications are prescribed each and every day. However, people fail to realize there are several ways to accommodate their health issues, such as regular therapeutic massage. According to Northwestern Health Sciences University, “Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being.” Massage is known to encourage relaxation, stimulate circulation, support the immune system, promote flexibility and range of motion, and also improve clients who suffer from depression. Although massage is beneficial and important for our well-being, sources argue that massage is not a necessity in our everyday lives and can also risk the chance of injury during a massage.  

            Every day we are faced with decisions to make and deadlines to complete. Stress has negative effects on the human body, thoughts, feelings, and actions. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) performed studies that were measured by psychological responses. The scales that were used were, “The Perceived Stress Scale, the POMS Depression Scale, and the Anxiety State Scale.” The results in each experiment presented a significant improvement in both the emotional and stress level categories. Stress often puts people in an unpleasant state of mind and eventually causes tension in the body. Regular massage is proven to help reduce stress levels by allowing the body to be in a relaxed state while permitting the tension in the muscles in the body to loosen up and allowing the therapist to release the toxins the body builds up. Massage triggers a chemical reaction in the human brain allowing the body to feel at peace as well as promoting a good and relaxed mood. A common technique that stimulates relaxation is a Swedish massage. Swedish massage is strictly directed for relaxation and consists of slow and gentle strokes. The lighter stroke slowly warms up the muscles throughout the body and progressively breaks up the knots that are causing tension. Therapeutic massage is beneficial for physical, mental health and relaxation.

            Society is constantly prescribed medicine each and every day. When individuals are in pain they turn to medication. Convinced that a pill will solve and fix our problems, people fail to realize medications are only masking the problem instead of curing it. Pills have a negative effect on our body because the liver is similar to a filter, it can become overwhelmed with all of the chemicals we are consuming and eventually only strains the bad components.  Massage is proven to help relieve several problems such as pain, without physically consuming something. According to  the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), “In the CDC’s 2007 survey of CAM therapies the top four reasons adults used CAM therapies were to treat pain including back pain or problems, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness/other joint condition, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions.” CAM is an acronym for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use. Society should understand that pills have spiteful side effects that are harming to the human body. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada state, “Massage dampened the activity of proteins known as inflammatory cytokines, which cause inflammation and pain. It also increased levels of proteins that signal the muscles to produce more mitochondria, the cell structures that produce energy and help muscles recover from activity.” The pills that we consume are an anti-inflammatory and amazingly, massage has the same effect. Massage helps decrease the distress the muscles are feeling when they are inflamed, once the tension is released from the irritated area the decrease in pain follows along with it.

            While massage helps relieve pain, it also aids in helping promote circulation throughout the body. According to the University of Minnesota, “Massage is believed to improve blood and lymph circulation. This is probably due partly to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and partly to the chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.” Massage therapist use several different techniques which improve the circulation throughout the whole session.  Massage is confirmed to help the process of supplying oxygen and nutrients to different muscle cells which allow the tissue to work more effectively. The University of Texas claims, “The direct mechanical effect of rhythmically applied manual pressure and movement used in massage can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow. Also, the stimulation of nerve receptors causes the blood vessels (by reflex action) to dilate, which also facilitates blood flow.” The constant movement in a massage helps circulation because it increases the flow of fluids that our body needs. They also mention, “The individual cells of the body are dependent on an abundant supply of blood and lymph because these fluids supply nutrients and oxygen and carry a way wastes and toxins. So, it is easy to understand why good circulation is so important to our health and why massage can be so beneficial for the entire body due to its effect on circulation alone.” While the massage is going on, it helps the movement of all of the chemical waste or toxins that our muscles can consume. In general, massage is able to apply pressure to our muscles and body as whole in order to improve the circulation and blood flow.

             With all the different sicknesses arising every day, new cures have to be discovered. However, it has been discussed that massage is able to help support the immune system and make it stronger. Kristyn Kusek Lewis of Health Magazine mentions, “Massage helps ward off bugs by boosting your natural killer cells.” The immunes system’s main job is to fight off illnesses that our body can contract. The more stressed a person is, the more likely it is for their immune system to weaken. Massage increases the level of our cytotoxic capacity which is our body’s natural healer. Lewis also discusses, “We know that cortisol destroys natural killer cells; therefore, since massage decreases cortisol, your immune cells get a boost.” Cortisol is what is also known as the stress hormone. When your body consists of too much cortisol, it can decrease the body’s immunity and inflammatory reactions to the body. During a study by Gail Ironson, M.D. she was able to determine, “HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in cells that are viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system.” Serotonin is a chemical that transfers nerve impulses between neurons and nerve cells. The men that received frequent massages who were diagnosed with HIV were able to have an increase in the body’s natural killer cells.       Massage has also shown to help with the increase of flexibility and range of motion. Author Matthew Boylan expresses, “Patients have been allocated to either the treatment group or the control group. The massage is performed for 15 to 20 minutes. It was found out that those patients who received a specific massage on the shoulder have exhibited a significant improvement in range of motion and decrease of pain.” Massage stimulates muscles, tendons, connective tissue, etc. when they are worked on frequently. The massage helps keep your muscles, joints, and everything else more fluid and helps prevent injury. Massage therapist also recommend several stretches for a client to help improve their range of motion. During a session, a majority of stressed muscles are elongated; therefore it is easier for the therapist to perform their techniques that stimulate flexibility. Massage & Bodywork magazine asserts, “Getting the most from joints is especially important for those people (especially the elderly) who have joint conditions, because range of motion can shrink with disuse.” It is important people receive massage because as we age our muscles begin to weaken due to the decrease of use in them. Range of motion is significant because it is responsible for the amount of arc of motion that can pass through a joint.

            People suffer and are diagnosed with depression every day. Therapeutic massage has been proven to help people coping with depression. According to AMTA, “A 30-minute back massage was given daily for a 5-day period to 52 hospitalized depressed and adjustment disorder children and adolescents. Compared with a control group who viewed relaxing videotapes, the massaged subjects were less depressed and anxious and had lower saliva cortisol levels after the massage.”  Although massage does not cure depression, getting regular massage helps reduce depression symptoms. When a person is depressed, the brain will create smaller amount of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for transmitting signals throughout the body. A regular massage helps release serotonin and endorphins which are responsible for calming the human body and acting as a happy stimulator for the brain. While massage is releasing serotonin and endorphins, it also aids in overall stress and promotes relaxation.

            Though massage is very beneficial for your overall wellbeing, sources also argue that massage is not a necessity in our everyday lives. Massages can range up to $200 a session across the United States. A client may have several areas of concern, and may need to be seen on a weekly basis, which can be quite an expense and unfortunate during a time of budget. People are constantly occupied with bills, school, work, children, and several other things. It is often difficult to find an hour to dedicate to yourself for a therapeutic session. Everyday life and engagements make it difficult for people to find time to spend on themselves. Also, accidental injury is a huge possibility when receiving massage. Deep tissue massage can leave a client sore after his or her session; yet, there is the possibility of subdermal and dermal bruising and in acute cases nerve damage.  However with today’s advancements and care, therapists are required to take educational courses and to successfully complete a test to receive his or her license. Also, massage therapist are required to purchase liability insurance for themselves before being hired on as a licensed massage therapist.

            Although massage is not the answer for everything, it is something people should invest in to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Pain medication and pills in general rarely fix the problems that exist in our bodies; instead it masks the problem we are trying to cure. Massage is beneficial for more than just relaxation. Regular therapeutic massage is proven to promote relaxation, improve circulation, support the immune system, stimulate flexibility and range of motion, and help people who suffer from depression. Although everyone is not open to bodywork, it is important to realize the therapeutic aspect of massage and recognize the positive effect it has on our overall well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Work Cited

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. "The Benefits of Regular Massage." Elements Therapeutic Massage RSS. Elements Therapeutic Massage, 2013. Web. 02 May 2013.

Brennan, M.K., and Retta Flagg. "Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress." — American Massage Therapy Association. American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Oct. 2006. Web. 02 May 2013.

Burgan, Beth. "Taking Charge of Your Health." How Does Massage Work? University of Minnesota, 2 Nov. 2011. Web. 02 May 2013.

Lewis, Kristyn Kusek. "Massage: It's Real Medicine." CNN. Cable News Network, 8 Mar. 2007. Web. 02 May 2013.

Mayo Clinic. "Massage Therapy." — Why Choose Mayo Clinic? Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2001-2013. Web. 02 May 2013.

Myers, J.E. "The Disadvantages of Massage Therapy." LIVESTRONG.COM. Demand                                                                      Media  Inc., 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 02 May 2013.

"What Is Massage Therapy?" Massage Therapy Definition. Northwestern Health

            Sciences University, 2013. Web. 02 May 2013.

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