15 Benefits of Massage Therapy

Benefits Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is good for you. There are so many reasons to get a massage. These include increased circulation, posture improvement, decreased muscle tension and tightness, stress and pain relief, increased relaxation, immunity boost, and other benefits that promote healing, health and wellness. The following lists 15 of the main benefits of massage therapy.

1. Increases Blood Circulation.

Our circulatory system gets blood containing oxygen and nutrients into parts of our bodies. Massage therapy benefits our circulation by helping us breathe deeper, and by mechanically increasing blood and venous flow through the reduction of fascial tension and muscle spasms that cause circulatory flow restriction.

Benefits of Massage

2. Improves Posture

Massage therapy loosens and relaxes tight muscles that cause poor posture. For example, people who are always on their gadgets develop rounded shoulders and hunched backs. Massage therapy is beneficial in that, by reducing tightness and pressure points, the body will start to naturally position itself correctly. Our posture is correct when our bones and joints are properly aligned so that our muscles are being used properly. This reduces pain and encourages efficient movement. (Depending on their training, some massage therapists also advise patients on what exercises to use to strengthen muscles that are weakened due to the poor posture).

Benefit Massage

3. Helps Alleviate Stress

Massage therapy helps reduce stress. Studies have shown that stress contributes to heart disease, stroke, irritability, insomnia, fatigue and other diseases. Massage therapy helps us manage stress so that it doesn’t lead to other diseases.

Massage Benefits

4. Reduces Tension and Tightness in the Body

A common reason to get a massage is muscle tightness and muscle stiffness. There are many reasons we experience tightness, stiffness and discomfort when performing certain movements. Some of the reasons are; injury to the muscles, joints, or nerves due to — an infection, inflammation, adhesions (knots), prolonged inactivity, overuse, or other pathologies. Massage therapy benefits our flexibility and mobility by helping reduce adhesions and scar tissue, encouraging circulation, encouraging joint lubrication and improving succussive action in joints. Succussive action is the sponge-like action created in the articular cartilage of joints to supply the cartilage with nutrients.

Benefits Massage Therapy

5. Increases Lymphatic Flow to Get Rid of Body Waste and Toxins

The body’s lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help the body get rid of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. It also transports lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. Manual lymphatic drainage and circulatory massage techniques are beneficial in increasing lymphatic flow.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

6. Corrects Compensatory Patterns

Massage therapy is beneficial in reducing muscle imbalances and tightness caused by assymetrical bodily movements due to joints and muscle compensation patterns.

Compensatory Pattern Definition: A pattern of compensation in the body attempting to make up for the lack of movement in one area by adding a new movement. It is an alternate neuromuscular strategy that the body uses when the normal movement pattern is difficult or imposssible due to an injury.

An example of compensatory pattern would be a person walking after a sprained ankle. The injured person replaces their normal walking pattern with an alternate strategy wherein they try to limit the amount of weight placed on the painful, injured ankle. In this case, massage can help treat overused muscles that are compensating and helps encourage circulation and healing in the affected ankle.

Benefits Massage Therapy

7. Reduces / Eliminates Knots and Trigger Points

Knots and trigger points prevent us from moving our muscles and joints painlessly and efficiently. Massage techniques like cross fiber friction or muscle stripping are beneficial in reducing knots/ adhesions in our muscles, tendons and ligaments. This helps our bodies move more efficiently and with less pain.

Knots are fibrous bands or structure by which parts are abnormally adhered. Excessive cross-linkages, binding connective tissue to muscle fibers, muscles to bone, connective tissue to bone, or muscle fibre to muscle fibre.  An adhesion may be found in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Trigger points or muscle knots are hyperirritable spots in our muscles that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers.

Benefits Massage Therapy

8. Aids in Peripheral Nerve Lesion Healing

The peripheral nervous system is a network of motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to the entire human body.

Massage therapy benefits in the healing of peripheral nerve injuries by encouraging blood flow to the denervated tissue areas. Denervation means loss of nerve supply.

For more information about massage and peripheral nerve lesion, see the following links:

https://www.foundationforpn.org/living-well/integrative-therapies/massage/
http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14537

Benefits Massage Therapy

9. Promotes Relaxation

Massage induces the parasympathetic response also called the relaxation response. When our bodies are relaxed, it heals faster, our immune system works better, we sleep better, and we breathe deeper – which gets more oxygen into our tissues.

Benefits Massage Therapy

10. Helps with Immune System Function

A study done by researchers from Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences reported that people who undergo massage, experience measureable changes in their body’s immune response.

In their study, people who had a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant changes in lymphocyte numbers and percentages; (lymphocytes are one of the subtypes of white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease), and caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

(Swedish massage is the group of basic massage therapy techniques that massage therapists use).

To read the study, see:  https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2010/Adults-Demonstrate-Modified-Immune-Response-After-Receiving-Massage-Cedars-Sinai-Researchers-Show.aspx

Benefits Massage Therapy

11. Helps Treat Chronic Conditions and Illnesses

Chronic conditions develop slowly and may worsen over an extended period of time (months to years). Chronic illnesses may be caused by unhealthy habits, or genetic, social, emotional, and environmental factors. Some examples of chronic medical conditions are arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and fibromyalgia.

A lot of chronic health conditions cannot be cured – only controlled. Together with healthy lifestyle behaviours and other health care professionals, massage therapy can help control and manage the symptoms of many types of chronic diseases.

Benefits Massage Therapy

12. Helps Treat Acute Conditions and Diseases

Acute illnesses usually develop suddenly and last a short time (days or weeks).  Acute medical conditions happen rapidly, and are accompanied by symptoms that need urgent or short-term care. These types of diseases and illnesses get better once they are treated. Some acute conditions that can benefit from massage therapy are a stiff neck, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, fracture or sprain.

Massage therapy may help speed up recovery from some acute conditions by using specific massage techniques that encourage lymphatic drainage or addressing compensatory patterns, and reducing protective muscle spasm.

Benefits Massage Therapy

13. Promotes Health and Wellness

Getting a massage promotes body awareness and encourages us to take care of ourselves and our bodies.

Massage therapy treatments improve and maintain our physical function, and optimizes our health and well-being by reducing pain, reducing the effects of stress and, by helping our body systems work more efficiently.

According to the World Health Organization, Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. http://www.who.int/about/mission/en/ and, according to the Wellness institute, wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence. http://www.nationalwellness.org/?page=AboutWellness

Benefits Massage Therapy

14. Boosts Mental Health and Reduces Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

The AMTA has affirmed the associated benefits of massage therapy to mental health, citing several research findings of the benefits of massage therapy to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

According to several research, massage therapy increases neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety, and decreases hormones associated with increasing anxiety, and with a course of treatment provides benefits similar to psychotherapy.

Massage therapy has also been noted to reduce the psychological and physiological anxiety levels in pre and post surgical patients, can reduce anxiety in a number of conditions including patients with cancer, chronic pain, psychiatric patients, patients withdrawing from psychoactive drugs, among others.

For more information on the report see the following links: https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-for-Anxiety.html and
https://www.massagetherapycanada.com/finance/growing-body-of-research-shows-massage-therapy-benefits-to-mental-health-amta-2263

Benefits Massage Therapy

15. Reduces/ Eliminates Different Types of Physical pain

Some examples of pain areas where massage can help:

    • tingling pain from carpal tunnel syndrome
    • tension headache
    • dull, stabbing or aching pain around the neck and shoulders from being in an awkward position or from being in the same position for long periods of time (e.g. computer desk)
    • throbbing or pulsating pain from migraine
    • shooting pain in the leg from sciatica,
    • burning pain from neuralgia
    • numbness, weakness, stiffness, tenderness around the elbow from golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow
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