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The health benefits of massage certainly reach far beyond the basic pleasure principle; the healing power of touch capable of relaxing both the body and mind.
Therapeutic use of massage has been in practice for thousands of years, gaining universal acceptance across different cultures of the world. It’s even considered a main component of complementary and alternative medicine in some countries.
Apart from improving general health, massage is believed to be effective in relieving physical pain, recovery from injuries, addressing anxiety, stress, tension, depression and other temperamental problems by helping the body relax in a calm setting.
Health benefits of massage, however, are greatly influenced by the environment and setting in which it’s offered. A clean, naturally lit, well-ventilated setting, free from major distractions or noise helps maximize the results of the process.
The use of heat, aromatic oils or soothing music also often aid deep relaxation; however, these factors are mostly based on personal preferences.
There are different types of massages, each intended to address a specific problem or achieve a specific effect. Scientific research to back the health benefits of massage is still in its nascent stages, in terms of if and how massage helps to address different health conditions.
However, there is enough evidence that it may be effective on some patients, given the reactions of those who have experienced positive results. Let’s take a look at few health benefits a massage is believed to offer in no specific order.
#1. Improves Sleep
Sleep offers the body and the mind some quality time to rest and energize before the next round of activity. A good massage often helps people with painful health issues or plain insomnia to settle down into a deep sleep by boosting brain (delta) waves that cause deep sleep.
Massage is especially beneficial for parents trying to calm down troubled children and put them to sleep. Parents, however, do not need any specific massage techniques, for their touch can very easily de-stress and relax a child.
#2. Controls Depression and Anxiety
It’s a well-known fact that stress is the main reason behind anxiety, depression and high blood pressure, which in turn lead to several health issues.
Cortisol is a hormone that is directly responsible for stress in humans. Massage helps to relieve stress by regulating or even lowering the levels of cortisol in the body, while also boosting production of dopamine and serotonin – the two vital neurotransmitters that help counter the feeling of depression.
Being de-stressed and relaxed boosts a positive outlook and keeps tabs on blood pressure, preventing any further damage to the system.
#3. Boosts Immunity
Given the innumerable infections that humans are prone to, a healthy immune system is actually a godsend. Massage is known to boost immunity by working on the underlying hormones and cells that protect the body against several diseases.
White blood cells are the first line of defence in the immune system, effectively engaging infections and warding them off. High levels of cortisol tend to weaken their functions. Select types of massage such as the Swedish massage is believed to lower the levels of cortisol in the body, increase the number of white blood cells, while also improving the levels of oxytocin (aka the trust hormone)
#4. Moderates Inflammation
Over-trained muscles can simply be restored to normalcy by means of a short massage, hardly lasting over 10 minutes.
Massage is especially useful as a replacement for pills and supplements often used by sportsmen to counter soreness and inflammation, which commonly occurs after a bout of rigorous practice or workouts.
However, these tend to interfere with the natural process of recovery. Massages alleviate pain while also aiding in the recovery process by promoting cell growth. This makes massages equally beneficial to the elderly, the injured and those battling chronic inflammatory problems.
#5. Eases Pain
Massage is seen an effective alternative to pain killers where conventional pain relief treatments fail to make a difference. While the problem is not completely rid, people with arthritis who were treated with regular massages felt better, experiencing a lesser degree of discomfort or pain and stiffness, and an improved range of movement.
Massages also, help improve the flexibility of limbs, especially in the elderly. Swedish massages, in particular, seem to be more effective in combating chronic back pain.
#6. Boosts Brain Activities
Brain waves are the key to the states of both relaxation and alertness. Short and swift massages, when administered in the seated position, help get the mind into an alert and attentive state, and also assist with improving the grasping power and problem-solving abilities.
#7. Defies Aging
There are many people who fail to accept the fact that massages improve blood circulation and help induce a feel-good factor, refreshing both the mind and the body. Few types of massages focus on effective lymphatic drainage, helping the body to flush out toxins, and restoring the system to normal health.
#8. Helps Face Severe Disease
A massage emotionally prepares patients affected by severe and painful diseases, such as cancer. It helps reduce depression, anger, anxiety and stress that are often associated with such diseases, while providing considerable relief from physical symptoms such as pain and nausea.
Hormonal imbalance often causing PMS in women, headaches and migraines – the direct results of stress or tension – and other common health issues are also effectively addressed with the help of a good message.
#9. Enhances Skin tone and Quality
Facial and body massages using essential oils, herbal creams, hot oils, etc. help revitalise and moisturize the skin, and nourishes it naturally. There are, however, several other health benefits that people are bound to experience, given their specific health conditions and the type of massages they opt for.
Apart from being remedial for issues concerning the health, a good massage helps connect the mind and body in a totally relaxed state, creating an awareness of the self, often lost in the mundane daily routine.
Though massages, in general, are safe and fun, people with medical conditions or on medication, or pregnant women should get medical advice before getting a massage. Individuals with bleeding problems, should refrain from massages. Any form of blood clots should not be massaged.
Massages can be extremely relaxing and therapeutic, if and only if the service is rendered by a friendly professional in a safe and trusted way, reaching out and remedying those in need with the healing power of touch.