We often think about getting a massage as pampering ourselves – like it’s some kind of indulgent luxury that makes us seem spoiled.
But you may be pleasantly surprised to learn about the many health benefits connected to massage.
It is truly a natural form of therapy that can address and relieve symptoms of all sorts of health complications.
So the next time you need to convince your significant other to give you a little back rub, or convince yourself a professional massage is worth it – remember these eight reasons for improving the quality of your life.
- Massage Can Help You Manage Stress
Stress is directly related to a wide variety of health issues in our lives – from problems as common as migraine headaches to serious diseases like cancer. Managing stress could very well mean you are preventing physical problems in your body.
When we undergo stress, our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to help us react to the situation. The problem is that this reaction can come at unnecessary times or be prolonged – making it hard to relax.
Massage can release important endorphins – like serotonin and dopamine – which are neurotransmitters that help you calm down. They’re often called your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals.
77% of Americans say they deal with the negative effects of stress in their lives. We can’t prove it – but we bet the other 23% get a regular massage.
- Massage Can Lead to Reduced Use of Painkillers
Here are a few sobering statistic for you…
Prescription painkiller overdose claims more American lives than heroin and cocaine combined.
It’s estimated that around 45 people die while abusing or misusing prescription painkillers every day.
And according to the CDC, for every one overdose death there are:
- 10 treatment admissions for abuse
- 32 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse
- 130 people who abuse or are dependent
- 825 people who take prescription painkillers for non-medical use
Massage is a better way to help manage your pain as well as your stress. Getting hooked on massage is a lot less dangerous than a painkiller addiction. And even over-the-counter pain meds can have health consequences – especially if they are misused.
WebMD cites a study involving back pain which found massage reduced the need for painkillers by 36%. Of course, massage can be used to help relieve many types of pain – including serious conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Massage Can be Beneficial to Pregnant Women
Another group of people that can benefit from being massaged is women who are expecting a baby.
Regular massage during pregnancy can lead to a quicker recovery time after a woman delivers. Plus, massage from a woman’s partner can also be very helpful while she is in labor.
A woman’s body goes through a lot of intense changes during and after a pregnancy. Massage can relieve swelling in the limbs while reducing muscle, nerve and joint pain.
Massage may even help a woman to regulate and balance hormone levels. This is why massage can also be useful during per-menstrual syndrome as well as for menopausal symptoms. As we already mentioned in No. 1 – massage releases hormones that promote a positive mood.
- Massage Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression
Besides supporting good physical health, massage can also improve your mental well-being.
Psychological health issues like anxiety and depression can be related to elevated cortisol levels. Many different studies indicate massage helps combat these issues because it can reduce levels of cortisol while increasing neurotransmitters that combat depression.
Psychological problems often manifest themselves in physical ways. Think about what your body does when you are down in the dumps. You might feel achy and weak, your shoulders droop, you drag your feet and you slump over. Massage experts call this a “structural collapse” that happens when we feel depressed.
Massage tends to address many symptoms that are a result of anxiety or depression. It may help to lower blood pressure levels, alleviate tough headaches, improve breathing, settle your nerves and more.
- Massage Can Help You Look Younger
Forget the Botox injections! Why do stick needles in your head when a simple facial massage can help you look younger, healthier and more beautiful?
Massaging will relax your facial muscles, which softens your expression, including those unattractive lines we can get from scowling and squinting.
Since massage improves circulation throughout your largest organ – your skin – it could also give you a more radiant appearance. Simply put – good blood flow gives you that special glow.
- Massage Can Give You Increased Energy Levels
Massage can be an amazing, rejuvenating, all-natural pick me up. Who needs another cup of coffee or energy drinks when you can have a massage?
The act of massaging can improve your circulation and increase the levels of oxygen in your blood. That also means it is easier for your circulatory system to deliver important nutrients all over your body.
Perhaps more importantly, it can support the health of your lymphatic system, which is responsible for filtering toxins from your bloodstream (among other things). Some toxic metals can deplete energy levels and alter neurotransmitter activity. Chronic fatigue is a symptom of toxic overload.
There’s another obvious reason that getting massaged can boost energy. It helps you relax – which help you sleep better – which makes you feel more rested so you have more energy during the day.
- Massage Can Boost Your Immune System
Your body’s natural defenses can benefit from getting massaged too. And that means you’ll have a better chance of staying healthy.
Clinical studies suggest massage may enhance the body’s production of natural killers cells – which are known as the body’s first line of defense in the immune system. One promising study in 2005 involved breast cancer patients. It found that not only did the group getting massage therapy report more reduced anxiety and depression than the control group but…
“Natural Killer cells, and lymphocytes also increased from the first to the last day of the study for the massage therapy group. These findings highlight the benefit of these complementary therapies, most particularly massage therapy, for women with breast cancer.”
People who are constantly stressed out tend to get sick more often than others. People who fail to get enough sleep are more prone to falling ill. These people are also more likely to have compromised immune systems – but massage does help!