Some people may think of a massage as a simple indulgence, but to some it can be a great tool for overall health and well-being. Massages are known to ease pain and help with inflammation while soothing stress and anxiety. There are many practical benefits to treating your body to a massage. Because persistent tension on the muscles and skeleton can restrict blood flow and nutrients, the connective tissue in the body get denser, and it causes negative effects on posture and breathing. Partaking in a massage will interrupt these stress-inducing patterns and will help the body to return to its natural state of balance.
1. Anxiety Relief
Psychologists have found that on average, those who received a massage had a lower level of anxiety, as opposed to those who did not receive the massage. Though there is very little scientific research supporting this, one of the more popular explanations is that the massage will lower the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response. Massages can help the anxiety associated with traumatic or troubling events, circumstances, or settings.
2. Lower Back Pain Relief
Up to 85% of young adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. The link between massages and the relief of lower back pain is real. With chronic pain, the alarm your body is sending is malfunctioning. Massages will not totally turn that alarm off, but it will lower the volume of the alarm, figuratively. One well-known explanation of this is the gate-control theory. This is when the body is experiencing pain that travels on small-diameter nerve fibers, sending the signal to the brain quickly. With a massage, larger nerve fibers are stimulated and send the messages to the brain faster. Basically, the feel of the massage overpowers the feel of the pain.
3. Soothe Tension Headaches
Headaches are caused by tension, and massages are performed to relieve tension. In particular, Thai massages have been known to relieve chronic tension headaches. The massage applies pressure along a specific area using gracious gestures. It is suggested to get a Thai massage two times per week for four weeks to alleviate the issues that are associated with these headaches. The massages are focused on shoulders, the upper back, the area between the neck and shoulders, tips of the shoulders, the back of the head, the middle of the head, and the forehead.
4. Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Research has shown that subjects that have received a massage had a level of depression that was less than 73% of the subjects that did not. This is right along the lines of conventional treatment of depression. Massages boost the body’s natural serotonin levels. It also encourages the body to release dopamine and oxytocin.
5. Lower Blood Pressure
Massages have been known to reduce blood pressure by significant amounts, but only temporarily. The trigger of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping the body return to a state of biochemical balance and emotional ease after a stressful event.
6. Restore Deep Sleep
About 40-50 million adults suffer from sleep deprivation. This is a problem because it messes with the body’s natural chemistry, making it more vulnerable to lowered immunity, increased inflammation, and increased sensitivity to pain. Research has shown that massages can promote less disturbed sleep, deeper sleep, especially in those that have chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. Massages promote stimulation of the body’s nervous system to rest and relax (opposite of fight or flight), it gives the person a better chance of experiencing deep sleep to restore tissue through the night while allowing the body to cope in the morning.