Benefits of a massage

A massage can help you relax and clear your mind after a hard day. But relaxation isn’t the only benefit of a therapeutic massage.
Most of us deal with a variety of health ailments, from chronic headaches to trouble sleeping. Sometimes, we seek over-the-counter or prescription medications for relief. These can work, but medication doesn’t always provide permanent relief, and there’s always the risk of side effects.

If you prefer a natural or alternative treatment, you might be surprised by the many health benefits of a massage. Whether you visit a spa for a the deluxe treatment or pop into a walk in clinic, regularly spending time in a massage chair or on a table can improve your emotional and physical well-being.

1. Reduces anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression can take over your life, causing you to lose interest in some of your favorite activities. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can provide some relief, but if you’re looking for a drug-free treatment, scheduling regular massages can improve how you feel.

Not only can a massage relax you, it helps increase your level of serotonin (a feel-good hormone), while reducing your level of stress hormones. According to research conducted by the Touch Research Institute, “30 minutes of daily massage therapy to hospitalized depressed adolescents over a five-day period brought about an improvement in mood and behavior.”

2. Reduces muscle tension

Muscle tension causes pain and stiffness, which can significantly limit mobility and activity. Rather than take a prescription muscle relaxer or pain reliever, a massage can relieve tight muscles and nerve compression that causes carpal tunnel or sciatica. It can also improve range of motion and flexibility, and help you manage chronic pain like fibromyalgia, migraines and arthritis.

3. Improves sleep

Sleep deprivation can make you groggy and irritable, and it’s hard to be productive when you didn’t sleep well the night before. Sleep aids can provide temporary relief, but these shouldn’t be taken on a daily basis. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy can naturally improve sleep.

Massages encourage relaxation, and as your serotonin level increases, so does your melatonin level at night. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles.

4. Boosts your immune system

A healthy diet and regular exercise are keys to improving your immune system, which makes you less susceptible to illnesses. But this isn’t all you can do. Regular massage therapy provides your immune system with an added boost.

Building your body’s defenses helps you fight off bacteria and infections. A massage strengthens your body’s natural “killer cells,” which fight diseases and helps your immune system function at its best. This can result in fewer colds, and with a stronger immune system, you reduce your risk of developing other illnesses, including cancer.

5. Improves blood circulation

Poor blood circulation can cause a variety of illnesses and conditions, such as swelling, discolored skin, weak nails, digestive issues, exhaustion and a weaker immune system. Massage therapy, on the other hand, can increase blood circulation naturally and contribute to your overall health.

As your therapist manipulates your soft tissue and stimulates blood circulation, more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscles, improving the health of your muscles and allowing them to function better. Better blood circulation also contributes to the removal of waste products from your body, which can reduce fluid retention and release trapped toxins from your body.

If you feel sluggish or deal with chronic pain, getting a massage might be the trick to feeling better. In as little as 20 or 30 minutes, physical manipulation of your tissues and muscles can produce a state of relaxation, relieve tension and pain, and give your immune system a much needed boost. It’s the perfect therapy if you’re tired of popping pills and dealing with drug side effects, and if you’re looking for a natural, safer way to treat your health conditions.

Photo from tumblr