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6 Ways Massage Therapy Can Benefit Your Overall Health and Well-being

6 Ways Massage Therapy Can Benefit Your Overall Health and Well-being

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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