I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a massage. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth it, but my massages hurt. Sometimes I have to remind myself why I’m doing it in the first place. So I decided to put together a list of the:
Top 10 Benefits of Massage
Now, I have arthritis in my neck. This sucks for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s aggravated by being on the computer all day. *sigh* The malady landed me in physical therapy for about six months and in a neck brace when I’m working to “remind me to relax.” It’s super sexy.
The arthritis causes knots in an intricate line down to my shoulder blade and seem to condense there. Fortunately, I found a massage therapist named Richard Dennis who is a lifesaver. I’m sure that working on my back is not easy (and probably akin to something like massaging beef jerky), but he does so with aplomb. That’s right. Aplomb. Which brings me to the first point on my top 10 benefits of medical massage list.
1) Massage Relieves Muscle Stress and Pain
This is my biggest reason for seeking out massage in the first place, and part of the reason that it hurts while I’m having it. I receive deep tissue massages that leave me with bruises on most of my body, but a couple days later I feel so good. Massage is the only method that truly keeps my pain at bay, and at one point the pain was so terrible I couldn’t sleep, work, or exercise.
2) Massage Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Cortisol is the enemy here. It elevates when the body is introduced to stress, causing a whole myriad of problems. Massage therapy lowers cortisol levels by up to 50 percent, and elevates the good stuff like dopamine and serotonin. And that’s dope, y’all.
3) Massage Helps You Sleep Better
Did I mention I’m also an insomniac? Yeah, I’m plagued by all the fun stuff. But I never sleep as well as on the day that I get a massage. Insufficient sleep can lead to all kinds of problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, the list goes on and on. Sleeplessness also leads to motor vehicle and machinery related crashes. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
4) Massage Improves Cardiovascular Health
Several long-term studies have shown that regular massage improves diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure can reduce the risk of a heart attack. And again, we come back to the stress issue here: stress is a huge problem for the heart, causing cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to less blood reaching the brain and other vital organs. Best of all, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive approach to preventing heart problems and even assisting with healing them.
5) Massage Can Reduce Many Different Types of Pain
These include post-operative pain, fibromyalgia pain, lower-back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic neck pain (my personal fave), lower joint replacement pain, and I’m sure many others. Is that a large enough list for ya? By getting blood pumping and oxygen circulating to the muscles, massage can help heal and prevent pain.
6) Massage Can Help Temper the Effects of Dementia
I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to live with dementia. The good news is there are things you can do to attempt to stave it off, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and daily mental stimulation such as crossword puzzles or, interestingly enough, dance. But once dementia has begun to rear its ugly head, there are things that you can do to manage it. Massage helps by lifting the patient’s mood, as well as aiding with circulation and detoxification. Some say that even a short shoulder rub can keep the symptoms at bay.
7) Massage Can Increase Range of Motion and Flexibility
Thinking back to college, one of my favorite days in dance class was “massage day.” We would pair off, and spend the entire class (which was usually about 90 minutes) massaging each other. After spending hours and hours of classes developing our muscles and strengthening, this definitely aided in the stretching part of our fitness. Best of all, massage can make your joints more fluid and less prone to injury by working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
8) Massage Promotes Relaxation and Lowers Blood Pressure
I’ve had a relaxation massage before. They feel amazing. I’ve even fallen asleep. With deep tissue massage, however, it’s likely that you won’t sleep. However, the after-effects can be quite amazing. For some people, as stress levels reduce, so does blood pressure — and massage definitely can help with stress levels. Also, massage can help improve circulation which can reduce swelling or edema (the technical term) that occurs alongside high blood pressure.
9) Massage Can Improve Balance In Older Adults
Now this one, I had no idea. According to the NIH, “Massage therapy (MT) may produce adaptations that decrease risk of falling.” Falling in older adults is a huge problem, causing billions of dollars every year. They are the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65. With therapeutic massage, these risks are reduced, as massage decreases postular instability which leads to better balance. Hence, less falling.
10) Massage Can Help Cancer Patients
Studies show that massage can decrease stress in cancer patients, and also reduce chemotherapy-related nausea. Based on this NIH study in pediatric chemotherapy patients, massage reduced the incidence of chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting. Plus, I’m sure getting a rubdown helps patients feel a little better, at least during the time they’re being massaged.
So there you have it! And with the advent of phone apps, it’s easier than ever to get a massage therapist right to your doorstep. Or if you live in a city like I do, there are massage places all over such as The Massage Place (I know, so on the nose); Massage Masters; Massage Envy; the list goes on. Just, you know, be discerning ;).
Has massage helped you? Have a top 10 list you want me to tackle? Leave me a comment or message me here!