By: Sydney John, Massage Therapist
When you’re feeling a little sore, nothing feels better than a regular massage therapy. This ancient practice soothes aches and pains, eases stress, and can even help you feel less tight and more relaxed. That’s because massage therapy involves applying pressure to the body in specific ways to ease tension, soothe sore muscles, and reduce pain.
For many people, massage is a luxury at best or an expensive indulgence at worst. But this popular service is also a type of therapy that can provide benefits above and beyond just feeling nice for an hour or two.
Massage therapy has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits. It can relieve stress, ease tension in muscles after exercise, decrease pain from arthritis or injuries, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, relax the mind and body with general stress relief, help with recovery after an athletic event or strain on your body, help with recovering from surgeries such as joint replacements; it can even help improve your immune response by increasing natural killer cell activity!
Types of Massage Treatment
There are a number of different types of massage therapy which are used for pain relief, stress relief and improved circulation. Some use strong pressure, while others apply a gentle touch. Just a few of them are:
1. Sports Massage
2. Swedish Massage
3. Hot Stone Massage
4. Full-Body Massage
5. Prenatal Massage
6. Trigger Point Therapy
7. Myofascial Therapy
8. Relaxation Massage
9. Aromatherapy Massage
Here are five of the most common conditions that a massage therapist has been proven to help with:
1. Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are caused by build-up of muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulders, as well as the connective tissue that surrounds them. This can happen when you’re stressed, when you’re sitting at a desk for long periods of time, or when you’re dealing with muscle strains or injuries. One of the benefits of massage therapy is that it reduces tension headaches by relaxing contracted muscles in the head and neck, improving blood flow, and reducing stress. In people dealing with chronic headaches, massage therapy can reduce headache frequency and duration by 50%! Even people dealing with occasional tension headaches can benefit from massage therapy. According to one study, receiving massage therapy as soon as symptoms start is most effective for reducing headache frequency and duration.
2. Lower Back Pain
If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, massage therapy can help ease your aches and pains. To treat lower back pain, massage therapy increases blood flow and reduces swelling in the muscles. It may also help relieve muscle tension, which is a common cause of lower back pain.
One study found that people with chronic lower back pain experienced considerable improvements in function and decreased pain after a 10-week massage therapy program. The researchers suggested that massage therapy may be an effective non-drug treatment option for chronic low back pain. Other studies have also found that massage therapy can help people with acute and chronic lower back pain, as well as people with spinal conditions like degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.
3. Depression and Anxiety
People with depression and anxiety often experience high levels of stress, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and even pain. Massage therapy has been shown to help ease these symptoms by lowering stress and cortisol levels in the body. One study found that people with generalized anxiety disorder and depression experienced reduced anxiety and cortisol levels after a 12-week massage therapy program. Although studies suggest that massage therapy should be used in addition to medication for people with severe depression or anxiety, it can be a helpful tool for managing mild to moderate symptoms.
4. Chronic Pain Conditions (Such as Arthritis)
Chronic pain conditions like arthritis often cause continual and intense sensations of discomfort and stiffness. Deep tissue massage can help relieve this pain by increasing blood flow and flexibility in the joints, muscles, and connective tissues. One study found that people with osteoarthritis experienced a reduction in pain after six weekly massage therapy sessions. Another study found that massage therapy can help people with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body. In a randomized controlled trial, people with fibromyalgia who received massage therapy reported less pain and lower anxiety than those who did not receive the treatment.
5. Constipation and Other Digestive Issues
Massage therapy has been found to help improve bowel function in people with constipation or other digestive issues. It’s thought that massage therapy increases blood flow to the digestive system, which helps break down food, increases movement of the intestines, and stimulates the bowels. One review of studies found that massage therapy has a positive effect on constipation, abdominal pain, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, for people with constipation, massage therapy was found to be as effective as laxatives.
There’s no denying that massage therapy is a powerful tool that can do wonders for your body and mind. From easing chronic pain to reducing stress and anxiety, massage therapy is a great way to take care of both your body and your emotions. Speaking with a massage therapist will give you a better idea of all the ways that massage can improve your quality of life. That said, it’s important to remember that every person responds to massage differently. What might work wonders for one person may not do anything for another.
If you’ve never had a massage before, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Luckily, there are many different types of massage out there, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Whether you’re in need of a relaxing treat or are looking for a therapeutic treatment, you can find the perfect massage for you at Peak Health & Performance. Call us today for more information.