Massage has some remarkable benefits for people in need for relaxation and people suffereing from different ailments.
I have tried to mention several massage benefits in the paragraphs below.
Massage Is Increasingly Recognised As An Alternative Medical Treatment
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage is a treatment for total mind and body health.
It the most used complementary and alternative medicine in hospitals today for the treatment of pain, mental health, stress reduction, and general wellbeing.
As more and more studies and research are carried out about massage, the results point towards the health benefits of massage to be many.
Massage has been shown to reduce tension and stress and to improve mood, reduce pain and inflammation, help with detoxifying the body and aid with mobility, postural alignment and speeding up the healing process.
It is used for and helps with more than 30 different medical conditions, with more than 10 of these being pain conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, HIV and cancer.
It improves and promotes heart health, reduces high blood pressure and even aids Parkinson’s disease patients with symptoms.
In short, massage can be an excellent accompaniment to more familiar healthcare routines and prescriptions, although it is not always a replacement.
Massage is not a cure, as, for the positive health benefits to continue, the recipient must continue to have regular sessions.
But, when you do make it a priority, the benefits are not to be underestimated.
How it works
A massage takes place under blankets in a warm room.
You will undress as far as you are comfortable but do not worry, your body will not be exposed at any point, except for an arm, a leg, or your back.
Usually, you will be lying down on a massage table, but again with particular styles of massage you may be lying on a futon on the floor: shiatsu and Thai massage are examples.
The deep pressure and long, rhythmical strokes of the massage practitioner along the muscles of your body cause you as the recipient to experience a sense of comfort and safety.
This, in turn, signals the body to relax.
It is OK to shut down the stress response that keeps us on high alert and enter into a relaxed state.
The pressure varies based on the style of massage, for example, the Swedish method uses lighter pressure than Deep Tissue massage.
Of course, the person getting the massage should be involved in the process and should voice their desires as far as the pressure.
Massage causes a decrease in cortisol levels, which allows relaxation to occur.
It stimulates the circulation of the blood and the lymph.
Improved blood flow can augment cardiovascular health, and improved lymphatic drainage will aid in detoxifying the body.
Oil will also nourish and penetrate the skin, moisturising and making it more flexible.
Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils from plants, which have medicinal properties.
Not only do they smell wonderful as they are applied to your body but they help you heal as well.
Some common oils are lavender, which is relaxing and calming, neroli, which uplifts and elevates the mood, and eucalyptus, known as a good medicine for colds and coughs, mental clarity and boosting energy levels.
This ability to rest is what allows the body to heal.
Take as much time for yourself after your massage as you can to rest, as this is when a lot of the deep healing work will occur.
It follows from this that massage will also help you to sleep better and studies support this.
Massage Therapy For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
In the world we live in today, more and more people are being diagnosed with the condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Though associated with military servicemen who have returned from active duty, PTSD has infiltrated all levels of society, affecting even children.
What Is PTSD
PTSD results in the ability of the individual to deal with traumatic experiences, and assign them to the past.
The result is an ever-present sense of anxiety and dread, and reliving the episode through flashbacks, undermining the feeling of safety and security.
Some of the manifestations of PTSD include angry outbursts, severe anxiety, nightmares, and lack of quality of sleep.
The good news?
Recovery is very possible, though challenging.
A combination of meditative techniques, anti-anxiety treatment, and massage therapy shows immense potential and is key to helping the affected individual regain the peace of mind lost.
Unsure how massage therapy can help with PTSD?
Read on and see if it may be a good fit for you.
Massage Therapy Can Help You To Relax
The feeling of living in 24/7 panic mode is enough to break anyone.
For one, the adrenal exhaustion that results from the always elevated reflex of fight or flight is not normal and ideally is recruited when your survival depends on it.
Yet, that’s not the case anymore, as trivial everyday tasks such as missing a train on morning commute can get your adrenaline pumping and unnecessarily increasing anxiety.
Massage therapy can help relieve the adrenalin response and not only tell your body it’s ok to relax but actually, induce the relaxation response.
Massage Therapy May Help Treat Insomnia
Endless nights without sleep do no favours for helping relieve the ever-agitated state of an individual suffering from PTSD, hence, the need for techniques that promote restfulness.
Massages by a trained therapist can help alter the balance of neurochemicals in the brain, increasing expression of GABA (a key neurotransmitter for promoting restfulness) along with endorphins, which are essential brain chemicals to combat the effect of adrenalin on the body, seeking to calm down neurons as the day progresses.
Can Treat Desensitisation
When you’ve experienced life-altering trauma (think of wars, mass murder, rape), your outlook on life is bleak.
You’ve likely become desensitised from the pleasures of life, and find it difficult to enjoy anything.
All you can do is worry, and anxiety begets more worry.
However, a specialised technique known as craniosacral massage therapy has proven useful in helping reintegrate these individuals into society.
This method involves massage therapy on the base of the skull, addressing the nervous system at this location.
Massage Therapy Can Help Improve Feelings Of Self Worth
Many sufferers of PTSD find themselves at fault for whatever happened to them and refuse to forgive themselves.
As such, feeling of self-worth drop, and they accept it.
Massage therapy can help stimulate the flow of energy in the body, known as qi, which reinvigorates the individual with life.
It is believed that by removing blockages of qi emotions flow once again and sufferers can accept and move on.
Can Relieve Muscle Tension And Stress
Finally, the over-expression of adrenalin keeps the muscles in a state of hypertonicity, which can pave the way for injury, cramping and more.
Chronic elevated levels of cortisol also wear down the body’s immune system, making the individual even more predisposed to injury and complications.
A simple massage session can reduce cortisol levels, lessen the tonicity of muscles, and improve blood circulation to deep muscle tissue.
Researchers from the University Of Miami School of Medicine found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol were lowered by as much as 53% following just one session of massage.
Massage For Depression
With over 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression, more and more people are looking for natural ways to feel better, to experience more happiness, and improve their quality of life.
With medication offering only limited solutions, and often with unpleasant side effects, people are seeking alternatives to improve their mental health and well-being or even complementary natural therapies that work alongside with medication and psychotherapy.
One natural way to decrease the symptoms of depression and to improve the quality of life and mental and emotional wellness is massage.
Massage has been around for thousands of years, and most cultures have used it in one form or another.
Massage is much more than a luxury item that is only for people with the leisure time to indulge in it.
It has some positive repercussions for your health and well-being, and studies are finding that it is good for your mental health as well.
How Does It Work For Depression?
Massage works by increasing blood flow to the area, decreasing muscular tension and promoting relaxation.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, massage helps to improve the flow of vital energy or Qi.
When energy in the body is in flow, good health is inevitable.
When the energy is stuck, discomfort or ill health occurs.
Massage stimulates the natural production of feel-good brain chemicals, including serotonin, and endorphins, which help improve mood and promote happiness.
Moreover, low levels of serotonin are one of the causes of major depressive disorder, and this makes massage the perfect natural alternative for stimulating its production.
Popular Styles Of Massage
There are different types of massage and several ways that massage can help to elevate your mood.
Some of the better-known types of massage are Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy massage, and reflexology.
Here is a quick outline of these styles of massage:
- Swedish massage uses oil on the bare skin and long sweeping, circular, and rhythmic strokes that bring about feelings of inner peace, calm, safety and relaxation.
- Thai massage is done with the recipient either naked or clothed: the practitioner uses different stretching manoeuvres and deep pressure to reduce tension.
It is usually performed on the floor, and the stereotypical image is of the practitioner walking along the back of the recipient!
- Aromatherapy massage is a lot gentler so if you prefer a softer approach this may be preferable for you.
Aromatherapy massage uses essential plant oils whose properties are beneficial to your well-being.
The medicinal molecules get absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin and can aid in healing.
Specific oils can be used to elevate your mood, induce feelings of happiness, and cause you to feel uplifted. Some good oils for this include bergamot, citrus oils like sweet orange, or rose, geranium and lavender.
- Reflexology is an ancient form of foot massage.
Points on the feet correspond to parts of the body and are pressed to bring about healing in the related body part.
Reflexology is also very relaxing and causes feelings of well-being, just like the other massage styles.
The benefits of gentle, caring touch should not be underestimated in and of themselves.
Human beings are social animals by nature and studies have found that touch is instrumental in bringing about feelings of contentment and well-being
Some contra-indications for massage include deep vein thrombosis, cancer, blood disorders, open wounds, severe osteoporosis, and fractures.
Consult your physician before trying massage if you have any of these conditions.
How Often To Have Massage?
If you are suffering from depression, then consider massage as more than just a special treat.
Think of it as an essential item in your self-care toolkit.
Weekly sessions can increase your quality of life by enhancing your mood, reducing the tension you carry, and alleviating an array of physical symptoms, which may be related to depression, such as fibromyalgia, back pain, stiff neck, and shoulders, and so on.
If you can make massage a priority in your weekly schedule, you will be doing yourself a great favour.
Your mental health will improve, you will feel more relaxed, your physical well-being will improve, and your outlook on life will receive a much-needed boost.
Many day spas offer discounts for those who get weekly or bi-weekly massages, and also massage schools are good places to find discounted rates.
Many studies suggest that massage is beneficial for fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, asthma, tension headaches, and pain.
For cancer and HIV patients massage is helpful in encouraging relaxation, boosting mood and pain reduction.
Though it is quite useful, many sufferers of PTSD find touch altogether stressful, and may not be open-minded going in.
But, if you can help convince a loved one to try a session, it could be a step in the right direction.
The benefits of massage therapy for individuals suffering from PTSD are marked and significant.
In fact, it should be considered an integral part of a joint approach, as it can speed up progress of other treatment modalities
With all these remarkable benefits, it is no small wonder that more and more people are turning to massage as an adjunct to more conventional medical practices.
If good health is a priority for you, then you would do well to make a regular massage an integral part of your lifestyle, rather than a pampering treat you indulge yourself in once in a while.
Find a well-qualified practitioner who knows the limits of treatment: massage should not be done near a blood clot, a tumour or open wound, or over any sensitive areas, particularly after radiation therapy.
Get well, get healthy… get a massage!
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