We all know how wonderful massage feels. We all say we wish we could indulge in massage more often. Here's the deal...Massage may feel like you're spoiling yourself but there is a lot of science behind why you should get massage on a regular basis.
1. Massage reduces stress and anxiety. This may seem like a no brainer, but take a moment to think about it. Getting one hour of massage on a regular basis is a way for you to obtain significant stress reduction in your life. The science behind it is a reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase in endorphins, the "feel-good" hormone. Massage takes the body out of that heightened parasympathetic fight-or-flight state where the body pumps out cortisol faster than a college student goes through energy drinks. Massage allows the body to relax and brings the body back into balance. What a powerful and easy way for you to take charge of your well-being!
2. Massage stimulates endorphin production. Remember those little "feel-good" hormones we mentioned earlier? It turns out they are also the body's natural pain relief system. They act on our brain the same way morphine or codine would act with one significant difference - you won't be come addicted. In addition to decreasing your perception of pain, studies indicate they also help modulate your appetite, increase sex-hormones and enhance the immune response. Fair warning, these little guys may lead you to experiencing a feeling of euphoria during your next massage!
3. Massage enhances immunity. You just learned that Endorphins enhance the immune response, but massage benefits the immune system in another way too - it stimulates lymphatic flow and lymphocyte production. Your Lymphatic system is basically your body's sewer system. All excess body fluid passes through this network of vessels from all over your body where it is filtered and harmful organisms are destroyed by lymphocytes - white blood cells. Studies show that lymph flow is increased and lymphocytes production is increased. Add an essential oil like Bergamot or Orange to your massage to enhance your immunity even more - not to mention the delicious smell!
4. Massage increases your performance. Sounds like a bold claim, but the studies are there to back it up. Whether you're working or competing, your performance is increased by massage. Massage breaks apart adhesions - sticky connective tissue that builds up over time and restricts blood flow. The massage strokes and pressure on the soft tissue of the body stimulate blood flow which increases oxygen and other nutrients to the cells of the body. These combined effects of massage leave you feeling clear-headed and ready to face the world.
How often is considered regular massage? That largely depends on your goal. If you are trying to boost your immune system for oncology reasons, you would receive massage more frequently than someone who schedules once a month for soft tissue maintenance. The best way is to talk with your massage therapist and get a recommendation. If you're still dubious, talk it over with your doctor. With the research and science to back up the claims, massage has been embraced by the medical community as a complimentary therapy during your journey to good health and well-being.
1. Massage therapy for health purposes: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm. Accessed Mar. 11, 2016.
2. AskMayoExpert. Massage therapy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
3. Stress Relief. Mayo Clinic Staff. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-relief/hlv-20049495 Accessed Mar. 11, 2015/
4. Endorphins: Natural Pain and Stress Fighters. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55001. Accessed Mar. 11, 2016.
5. Photograph, “Man Having Massage In A Spa Center” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
6. Image, "Neuron" courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.