Massage Your Way to Better Health
No matter where you are these days – the airport, the shopping mall, hotel, or an office building – there’s a pretty good chance you could find someone to give you a massage.
Massage therapy has been around since nearly the beginning of time, but in the recent past has been available only at luxury hotels and health clubs for the most part. But, today massage therapy has gone main stream and nearly every one has access to it. It’s estimated that 18 million adults and over 700,000 children receive massage therapy each year and that number appears to grow each year.
Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of massage grow, but remains rather limited. But, several studies are being sponsored the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is an arm of the National Institute of Health or NIH.
Massage therapy is the pressing, rubbing, and manipulating of the soft tissues of the body including the muscle, skin, ligaments, and tendons. In fact, Hippocrates referred to medicine as “the art of rubbing”. The are many forms of this “art of rubbing”.
Health Benefits of Massage
- Anxiety/depression: A single session of massage therapy can reduce situational anxiety while multiple sessions can reduce general anxiety, depression, and pain. Some of this is likely related to a decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone) that occurs with massage therapy.
- Pain relief: It is effective in alleviating pain in patients with advance cancer, neck and low back pain, pain from PMS, and sports related musculoskeletal injuries. Pain relief is thought to be related to the blocking of pain signals and/or the release of serotonin and endorphins. See also 8 Benefits of Acupuncture.
- Improved circulation: It improves blood circulation and thus the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissues.
- Improved joint motion: Improving joint motion becomes more important as we age and regular massage can help restore and maintain motion leading to enhanced function and improve quality of life.
- Improved sleep: It can improve sleep by improving delta brain wave activity which is responsible for deep restorative sleep.
- Improved mental alertness: Many individuals report better concentration and mental focus following massage.
- Enhanced immunity: It can lead to an increase in white blood cells and does improve lymph flow enhancing immune function.
Massage should not be performed on areas of the body in which there are blood clots, fractures, open wounds, skin infections, or osteoporosis. Vigorous massage should be avoided in individuals with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medication.
If you are pregnant you should ask your obstetrician before receiving massage therapy.