Wellness | The Benefits of Massage Therapy

July 19, 2018

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Stephanie Goraczkowski

massage-benefits-imageMassages are often viewed as indulgent and unnecessary... Just a "nice way to relax" and unwind. But did you know that massage therapy is actually a form of physical and mental wellness? It's a way to maintain your health, not just a fun trip to the spa.


massage-benefits

Lowers Stress. When you’re stressed out, your body produces large quantities of cortisol that can negatively affect your health. Regular massage appointments over an extended period of time can lower cortisol levels, allowing your body to recover. It can also boost your energy and reduce pain by releasing endorphins that help relieve stress physically and emotionally.

 

Lowers Blood Pressure. Along with lowering stress, you can experience lower blood pressure from reducing your cortisol levels. These lower blood pressure levels can also reduce heart attack risk, stroke, and kidney problems, helping you stay healthy. Learn more about stroke awareness here.

 

Improves the Immune System. Stress can be, well, stressful enough. When you combine stress with lack of sleep and bad eating habits, it can lead to illness and injury. The body can’t naturally protect itself against infection. Regular massages help boost the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity—the activity of your body’s cells that fight off infection. Additionally, massages that are accompanied with an exercise regimen can enhance your body’s digestion, energy, and immunity.

 

Improves Circulation. Massage improves circulation by moving the blood around stiff parts of the muscle tissue with applied pressure and warming of the muscles. Good circulation can help bring hefty blood supply repair injured and tense muscles so they can heal and stay healthy. Additionally, massages can remove the lactic acid buildup in your muscles, which is what makes them sort after a workout. This improves the lymphatic system and circulation of fluids from the organs and muscles in your body.

 

Improves Posture. A lot of people sit at a desk all day, or relax by slouching down on the couch. But, guess what. This is poor posture, and it’s a huge proponent in back pain. The added strain on your body from poor posture can also result in back spasms and additional muscle tension in your hips, neck, and legs. Massages can help relieve this pain, realign the body, and even help you improve your posture.

 

Relaxes and Heals Muscles. Probably the biggest benefit that aids in all the other benefits above is that massage relaxes the muscles. When your muscles are relaxed, so are you! Which helps with stress and blood pressure. Your mind and body are working together to keep you at your most healthy. Additionally, when your muscles are relaxed, massages can provide the most benefit, such as increasing flexibility and range of motion, eliminating “knots” in the muscle, and helping promote tissue healing through circulation. Massage releases endorphins that boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. These hormones assist the body in many ways–physically as well as emotionally. All in all, massage causes a chain-reaction of positive results for your body and mind.

 

company-benefit

All of these massage benefits make me want to stop writing this post right now and run out of the office to get a massage. Alas, it is not my lunch break, and—oh yeah—I don’t have an appointment anywhere. Ignore my pouting for a second and listen to this though: Did you know some companies are promoting this health benefit through workplace perks?

Massage therapy in the workplace is becoming ever-increasingly popular, and they don’t have to be “free” either. Even if your company doesn’t offer free massages at work, bringing in a 3rd party massage therapist can help save time and convenience for people looking to relax on their lunch break or after work. They aren’t leaving work and increasing their break time by driving to their nearest spa or wellness center, and people don’t have to feel guilty for spending their break on something “indulgent” like a massage. Let yourself relax!

It seems like a surprising perk, but companies consider this a benefit for themselves as well as the people they employ. But why?

 

It increases productivity.

Did you know that over 50% of lost work days are stress-related? Massages can help reduce stress, not only keeping people productive, but actually AT WORK as well. As little as 15 minutes of massage has been proven to reduce stress, muscle tension and help clear the mind and refresh the body.

 

It improves mood and morale.

People value companies who take care of them. When a service, like onsite massage, is added to a company, workers will feel that they are cared for, and that their company values them personally. And because massages can improve mood and boost endorphins, this contributes to a sense of happiness and well-being at work, too.

 massage-types

We’ve established that massages are pretty great. But there are many different types of massage therapy techniques that offer different benefits for the body. Here are some of the most common types of massages.

 

Swedish Massage

One of the most popular types of massage, this technique uses broad strokes, circular movements and gentle pressure to help relax your muscles. It’s the most common form of massage offered in most clinics, spas, wellness centers, and gyms, because it helps relieve muscle tension, and aids in muscle recovery from injuries.

 

Deep Tissue Massage

This technique uses slower strokes with more pressure in order to massage the deep layers of muscle and connective tissue. This type of massage typically targets “knots” in the muscles, which helps muscles heal. Deep tissue massage is beneficial for those who have muscle injuries and stress injuries that result in pain and limited mobility.

 

Sports Massage

Combining some techniques from Swedish and deep tissue massage, this technique is designed to help treat and prevent sports injuries by using Swedish massage techniques at a faster pace, and including compression or pressure point therapy. By focusing on soft tissues and muscle groups, sports massage can increase blood flow which can improve flexibility and athletic performance.

 

Shiatsu Massage

This technique is a form of Japanese massge. Pressure is applied to specific points on the body using fingers, hands and elbows in a rhythmic motion. The pressure is held for about 8 seconds, which helps stimulate acupressure points and improve energy and balance.

 

Hot Stone Massage

Using smooth, heated stones is the core focal point of this technique. They can be placed on specific muscle points or used during massage. The stones help relax the muscles, so massaging can be done effectively.

 

Reflex Massage

Reflexology focuses on the hands and feet, aka: the reflex areas. This technique applies pressure to reflex points on the body, which are connected to other workings of your body, like organs and your nervous system. Reflex massage helps alleviate pain and pressure for people who spend a lot of time on their feet.

 

So there you have it! You have at least 6 different options and a whole list of benefits, so go get yourself booked for a massage. And if you’re looking for other ways to relax and improve your health, check out our post on Float Therapy.

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