Most people consider a massage to be a relaxing spa treatment. They’re not wrong. A good massage can relieve anxiety and help you shake off the stress that you face each day. But massages are not just for those who can afford to go to Canyon Ranch. Massage therapy can actually be an integral part of your general health routine.
For the last 15 years, researchers have investigated the potential health benefits of massage therapy. Some research suggests that massage therapy can help boost immune function. Other studies have suggested that it can improve overall well being in chornically ill patients. It can even help children and parents deal with behavioral disorders.
The way massage therapy affects people depends not only on the individual but on the type of massage they receive. Each treatment focuses on different areas. Each may also elicit different benefits depending on the patient. Here are three great ways that massage therapy can benefit people whether they are sick or healthy.
1. Massage Can Boost Immune Function
Massages are more than just a relaxing spa treatment. Some research suggests that your immune system will get a boost after you have a massage. Research shows that the number of white bloods cells in your body increases after you have had a 45 minute massage. White blood cells, or lymphocytes, are essential to your body because they help protect it from diseases.
One study was performed on 29 people who each had a 45 minute Swedish massage and had filled in a claims process. The participants were wearing catheters to help the researchers take blood samples during the massage. The study session began with each person spending half an hour resting before receiving the massage. Then, the researchers took a blood sample. After the massage, more blood was taken at several intervals including one, five, 10, 15, 30 and 60 minutes after the treatment was finished.
Researchers then compared all the different samples. The results of the study suggested a heightened immune response in those who had the Swedish massage.
2. Massage Can Improve Quality of Life
It may seem obvious that massage can help improve your quality of life. Massages help relieve pain and stress. Plus, a massage is incredibly relaxing. There’s almost nothing about massage that would not make you feel better.
Several studies have shown that massage increases your normal comfort level and keeps you relaxed. As a result, several other physiological reactions are improved by massage. When you are relaxed, your body finds it easier to complete basic processes like sleeping and digestion. This helps relieve nausea and fatigue.
But massage can improve your quality of life in several other ways as well. This is particularly true for people suffer from HIV/AIDS. A series of recent reports have shown that massage can help HIV/AIDS patients in several ways.
One study showed that HIV positive babies who received regular massages were able to gain more weight than babies who did not participate in massage therapy. Another study showed that massage therapy benefits the immune system of HIV patients who otherwise suffer from a compromised system. The results of the second study showed that massage helped increased cell cytotoxicity in patients. This is especially important for HIV patients.
Finally, almost every study done on the subject has shown that HIV patients who use massage therapy have less anxiety. Almost all those who have less anxiety were shown to have a better quality of life.
3. Massage Can Have a Positive Impact Behavioral Disorders
As it turns out, hyperactive kids do not necessarily need to be calmed with medications.
There have been numerous studies done on the benefits of massage therapy on behavioral disorders. One study demonstrated that massages helps children decrease the amount of fidgeting they do. Another showed that massages increased a child’s serotonin levels. From doing homework to learning how to cope with stress, two out of three children in these studies found it was easier to function in social situations when they participated in massage therapy.
Although different studies had different goals, each one of them has shared a mutual outcome. In every study, the parents and the children both said that regular massage therapy was a positive experience.
At the end of the day, most doctors recommend that you use massage therapy in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. But if you use massage therapy in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you could see real benefits. Your health is worth more than just an occasional trip to the spa. Getting involved with a licensed massage therapist could lead to a healthier you.
Featured photo credit: Tara Angkor Hotel via flickr.com