In today’s busy world and our constant “on-the-go” mentality stress can take a real toll on our well being- physically, mentally and spiritually. By allowing ourselves a time to relax and focus on wellness we can combat the stress of everyday life. Through massage therapy, we become more aware of our daily stress levels. This allows us to recognize what true relaxation feels like so we can more easily recreate it for ourselves, before stress becomes chronic and damaging. Having this relief from stress increases our energy levels and vitality, as well as enhances our ability to cope with and enjoy our daily lives through calm and focused thought.
Stress Relief and Relaxation Benefits
- Improves mental outlook
- Allows for better handling of pressure
- Promotes relaxed states of mental alertness
- Enhances calm and focused thinking
- Lowers Heart Rate
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Relaxes Muscles
- Increases Endorphins
Allowing the body to return to the natural alignment can be one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy. Many aches and pains are due to poor posture. Whether we are driving, working at a desk, or even just standing still, poor posture detracts from our wellness and contributes to discomfort.
With a consistent program of massage therapy, the adhesions in our muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints have greater freedom, and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.
Benefits of Improved Posture
- Systems of our bodies work at a more optimum level
- Muscles are loosened and relaxed
- Joints have increased flexibility and fluidity
- Pressure points are relieved
According to Eileen Cahalane of Alive Magazine:
A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue, and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Good circulation brings damaged, tense muscles the oxygen rich blood they need to heal.
Massage improves circulation as the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this pressure causes new blood to flow in. Better circulation is part of the chain reaction that happens in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.
Improved Circulation Benefits
- Enhances blood flow
- Moves waste away from muscles and internal organs
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves body function
Regular therapeutic massage sessions provide significant benefits beyond the immediate relaxation we enjoy. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our body’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced.
Numerous studies have indicated that massage can increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”).
In one study by Gail Ironson, M.D., 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. This is testing a very narrow aspect of the human immune system, but it does lend scientific credibility to a therapy which is widely recognized as therapeutic, based on experience.
Strengthen the Immune System Benefits
- Increases the bodies natural killer cells
- Aids in the fight against bacteria and infection
- Enhances the bodies ability to get nourishment to important areas
Not only do tense muscles cause knots and pain in their respective areas in the body, they can create a chain reaction that spreads, making the ability to eliminate pain nearly impossible.
Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax. Not only will massage therapy help relieve muscle tension through therapeutic techniques; it can also help individuals become aware of their daily stress levels. Once you recognize what true fluidity in the muscles feels like, you reawaken an awareness of the body condition and can address stress before it becomes chronic and damaging. With a deep pressure and knowledge of the human anatomy, the massage therapist focuses on deeper tissue structures release chronic muscle tension and ultimately relax the body.
Relaxed Muscles Benefits
- Reduces pain that results from tense muscles
- Aids in relaxation
- Relieves muscle tension and stiffness
As we age, our joints tighten and we lose the range of motion we once enjoyed in our youth. One of the main reasons we become less flexible as we get older has to do with certain changes that take place in our connective tissues. As we age, our bodies gradually loose fluid and dehydrate.
Massage therapy is an effective treatment for increasing and maintaining flexibility and motion. By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massage can stimulate the production and retention of our bodies’ natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, making stretching and movement easier, and keeping the body flexible.
Improve Flexibility and Range of Motion Benefits
- Stimulates the production of the bodies natural lubricants to keep flexibility at a maximum
- Can enhance athletic performance as the body ages
- Helps prevent active lifestyle injuries by keeping the body flexible
Many Americans suffer from tension headaches and migraines. The disorder can be debilitating and can result from high stress levels, tension in the neck and thoracic muscles, and lack of quality sleep. Massage is an excellent treatment for each of these causes.
In a proactive role, massage treatments are performed on a regular basis to help the body and mind maintain an optimal level of relaxation and stress-relief. Massage therapy also reduces the chances of migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points. Massage also switches the nervous system from the sympathetic (fight or flight) mode to the parasympathetic (rest and digest). This change enables the recipient to sleep uninterrupted and wake up refreshed and rested. In a comfort role, massage is performed to ease the pressure brought on during a migraine or tension related headache. By focusing on the neck, shoulders, and head, massage can decrease the pain and discomfort brought on by migraine or tension headache.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association:
A recent study showed that massage therapy recipients exhibited fewer migraines and better sleep quality during the weeks they received massage, and the three weeks following, than did participants that did not receive massage therapy. Another study found that in adults with migraine headaches massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.
Relief of Tension-Related Headaches Benefits
- Decreases occurrences of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms
- Allows one to maintain a level of relaxation and stress-relief, reducing the chances of stress induced migraines
- Reduces muscle spasms and trigger points