5 min|Dr. Taylor Green
9 Benefits of Massage You May Not Know AboutWellness
Massage therapy is one of the most versatile and effective forms of treatment available.
Massages feel good – but did you know they can have long-term benefits on mental, emotional, and physical health? Massage therapy has been practiced as one of the oldest forms of medicine in many cultures around the world, but there is ample science and research behind the powerful impacts of massage on many aspects of our health.
What is massage therapy?
Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, including fascia/connective tissue, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints using various amounts of pressure and movement. There are many types of massage techniques from Swedish, Deep Tissue, Lymphatic Drainage, Thai, Shiatzu, and Rolfing. It works to release adhesions within the soft tissue, promote blood and lymph circulation, and improve mobility.
Benefits of Massage
1. Reduction of Pain Syndrome Symptoms, Fibromyalgia, & Arthritis.
Massage has been shown to stimulate the release of “feel good” endorphins and enkephalins that reduce anxiety, stress, and pain perception. It has been shown massage may lead to a reduction in the activation of pain receptors in the spinal cord and muscles, as well as a blocked production of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, interleukin-6, and HSP-27), which minimizes swelling, pain, and inflammation of in soft tissue. The brain is then signalled to relax the body. Massage increases blood flow to muscles and connective tissue, allowing for adequate nutrients needed for repair.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Deep tissue and Swedish massage act to decrease blood pressure by stimulating the Vagus nerve, inducing our parasympathetic nervous system (our “rest and digest” state). Massage decreases blood pressure and heart rate by increasing oxygen uptake, which may decrease the activation of the renin-angiotensin pathway. Lower blood pressure reduces our risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and many other conditions.
3. Strengthen the Immune System
The relationship between high levels of stress and its detrimental impact on the immune system is well-known. Stress elevates cortisol, which supresses our white blood cell activity, making us less able to fight off infection. Weekly massage treatments were shown to boost the immune system by increasing immune cell levels in participants.
4. Mitigate Stress, Anxiety & Depression
Increased production of endorphins and oxytocin, in conjunction with lowered levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol have powerful impacts on mood.
5. Improve Circulation and Muscle Recovery
Massage increases muscle repair by promoting cell growth and blood perfusion, in addition to reducing inflammatory cytokines that can further damage muscle tissue.
6. Promotes Sleep
Massage promotes a calming and relaxing effect that may increase sleep latency and quality.
7. Help Migraines & Chronic Headaches
Regular massage has been shown to reduce migraine frequency and improve sleep quality in patients. It can also help to reduce headache intensity in those suffering with tension headaches.
8. Stroke Rehabilitation
Massage may help to restore sensorimotor function in stroke patients. When used in conjunction with electric acupuncture, massage may stimulate damaged nerves in muscle targets and help with movement recovery.
9. Quality of Life in Cancer Patients
Therapeutic massage can reduce pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety in those undergoing chemotherapy by increasing dopamine, serotonin, and other endorphins. In women with breast cancer, manual lymphatic drainage helps to redirect waste congestion and relieve discomfort in swollen lymph nodes.
Massage is an excellent modality on its own, or used as part of an integrated treatment regime. Speak with your healthcare provider if massage therapy is right for you!
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Dr. Taylor Green
Dr. Taylor Green has always been fascinated by the intricacies of nature, the human body and health sciences. For her, health is not defined by the absence of disease, but the balance between mind, body, and environment.