First time massage is often motivated by a stressful or painful condition, but the benefits of massage go much deeper and offer you far more than you may have ever suspected. Regular massage can greatly benefit your overall health and well-being.
The most obvious benefit is that a massage makes you feel great! The stress-relieving, soothing results alone are enough for many to include massage as a regular part of their lives. What of the less obvious benefits?
The first sense to develop is your sense of touch. It’s not surprising when you consider that each square inch of your skin contains roughly 50 nerve endings. With as many as five million touch receptors in your skin relaying messages to your brain, your body’s initial response to massage is to relax, lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate. Massage also signals the brain to produce endorphins, your body’s natural pain suppressors.
Going deeper, massage helps restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. Massage is the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm and helps to release the toxins produced by muscle tissue during exercise.
Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste. Massage encourages a better exchange of nutrients at the cellular level.
The nervous system is your internal communication network, sending messages constantly that determine proper functioning throughout your body. Stress affects the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage.
Massage also aids in maintaining flexibility in your joints, such as the knee, hip, spine, shoulder, and neck. These joints are thoroughfares for nerves, veins and arteries, so their freedom of movement allows energy and blood to flow unimpeded.
All forms of massage therapy and bodywork can be therapeutic when applied by a skillful and knowledgeable therapist.
Some of the more common massage techniques include, but are not limited to: Swedish Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Trigger Point Therapy and Rehabilitative Stretching Procedures.
It is common for some to play down the effects of so called Relaxation Massage and to even call it “Fluff,” however, as we learn more about the stress response and it’s role in creating disease, we see a definite need for this type of service.
The capacity to combine intuitive and scientifically proven principles defines the art and science of massage therapy.
What are the benefits of massage therapy?
• Releases tight and sore muscles which can cause ischemia, a lack of blood supply to soft tissues, which causes hypersensitivity to the touch and allows for further injury to the tissues.
• Helps relieve nerve compression or entrapment. (Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone, which can contribute to muscle atrophy and referred pain.)
• Deactivates myofascial trigger points. These are areas of high neurological activity, which refer pain to other parts of the body. Research has shown, trigger points may be responsible for as much as 74 percent of everyday pain.
• Decreases pain and inflammation. Massage can restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. It’s the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm.
• Alleviates stress and improves circulation. Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste to be eliminated from the cells. Remember, the future “you” is determined by how well your army of cells regenerate themselves, so this is indeed a critical part of remaining healthy. Massage has been practiced for thousands of years and is one of the earliest health treatments known to man. That is why it remains one of the best ways of dealing with everyday stress.
• Aids in Digestion. Massage can improve digestive motility.
• Increases flexibility and range of motion. By reducing hypertonicity and hypotonicity the muscles allow for normal ranges of motion to be restored. This also reduces the forces being applied to the joint capsule and diminishes the potential for joint and disk degeneration.
• Calms the nervous system. Stress can affect the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage, and this contributes to keeping your internal lines of communication open and operational.
• Alleviate headaches. Frequent headaches are not normal and, with a little proactive planning, there is something that can be done to manage and even prevent them. Headaches come in many varieties. Following is a short list of the most common types.
Migraine headaches occur when the blood vessels in the brain become dilated, usually due to a chemical reaction, such as food allergies or a stress response. They often start with visual disturbances and quickly develop into severe head pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. They’re usually felt on one side of the head, but can be on both sides. Migraines are often managed with medications and avoidance of foods known to trigger them. However, some bodywork techniques can also be effective in easing migraines or decreasing the frequency.
Tension Headaches, exaggerated by stress, are related to poor posture, jaw problems, and neck pain. Tension headaches are most often caused or exacerbated by poor posture, work station positions, and body mechanics, creating undue stress on the upper neck muscles.
Mixed Headaches is used to describe a tension headache that leads to a migraine. Typically, the tension headache starts first and the chemicals produced from the pain of it create conditions for a migraine to develop. In people with patterns of mixed headaches, the best way to avoid the onset of a migraine is to treat the tension headache.
• Improves posture and coordination
Massage is cost effective. By assisting the client towards a quicker recovery from acute headaches, neck and back pain, skeletal muscular strains, sprains, etc. he or she is able to return to a normal productive life more quickly. Massage can also help to prevent future chronic pain conditions by effectively dealing with the cause of the problem and eliminating it. It is shown in scientific literature that over 80 percent of the pain comes from soft tissue injuries, and over 74 percent is directly attributed to trigger points.
A massage does not have to be painful to be beneficial. On the other hand, you may enjoy a really hard massage. And you can continue having massages even after your muscles have totally released the memory of injury.
There is something particularly satisfying when your massage therapist locates the exact place where your pain is, and you can really feel that part of you being released. After a while, your muscles and joints feel so much better. A good massage is just amazing – You walk in, lie down, and walk out feeling so much better.