Why can massage be so beneficial for your health & wellbeing?
Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia in order to improve wellbeing or health. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure. It's generally considered part of integrative medicine.
A common misconception about massage is that it's only part of a spa day and intended for pampering yourself. While this may be true for some people, it is most frequently a tool for stress reduction and pain relief.
One of the immediate benefits of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm. This occurs because massage prompts the release of endorphins – the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of wellbeing. Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are also reduced.
Some specific conditions that massage can help include:
- Digestive disorders
- Nerve pain
- Postoperative care
- Scar tissue
- Soft tissue strains and injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders
For most clients, massage therapy is an important part of specific medical treatment plans to help them return to daily activities. For example, massage therapy is helpful after soft tissue strains and injuries.
Physical benefits of massage include:
- Improved circulation
- Decreased muscle stiffness
- Decreased joint inflammation
- Better quality of sleep
- Quicker recovery between workouts
- Improved flexibility
- Less pain and soreness
- Strengthened immune response
Mental health benefits of massage include:
- Lower stress levels
- Improved relaxation
- Improved mood
- Decreased anxiety
- More energy
- Increase feeling of wellness.
Benefits that regular massages can have on overall health and wellbeing:
Focus and mental clarity
Research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience shows that massage increases serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, while serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps relay messages from one area of the brain to another influencing mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. Massage also decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Having the right cortisol balance is essential for your health, and producing too much or too little cortisol can cause health problems. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation and fear.
Stress relief, relaxation and muscle tension relief
Tight neck and shoulder muscles often limit the circulation to the brain, which consequently does not support memory or concentration. Also, when massage relaxes tense muscles, it eases stress, which also benefits thinking and efficient work. Positive emotions typically are related to better thinking and memory, whereas negative emotions are associated with pessimistic thinking and less concentration.
Massage strokes and pressure release chemicals into the bloodstream that are then processed through the kidneys. As soon as you release theses muscles they swell back up with blood to create a natural flushing process. It cleanses the blood and also increases circulation.
Aromatherapy & Massage
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for certain benefits. Examples include lavender, orange, bergamot and eucalyptus. These “aromas” are all plant-based derivatives from herbs, tree extracts, and flowers. Essential oils are extremely concentrated so to be used correctly they should be diluted into carrier oils, emulsifiers, lotions, creams or bath foams/gels.
Aromatherapy massage is used for a variety of different reasons, including relaxation, pain management and improved mood. The overall purpose of aromatherapy is that it can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), that studied the effectiveness of chamomile and massage therapy for anxiety relief. The results showed a greater decrease in anxiety symptoms after massages with chamomile versus massage without aromatherapy.
Overall, the NCI notes that aromatherapy has shown benefits for the following uses; anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea and pain.
By Vicki Taylor Massage & Beauty Therapist
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