The Benefits of Massage
Goes Beyond Relaxation
As you lie on the table under crisp,
fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of sage fills the air and you hear the gentle sound
of massage oil being warmed in your therapist's hands. Once the session gets underway, the daily stressors and aching
muscles fade into an obvious 60 minutes of relief, and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.
But what if that hour of massage did nore for you than just take the pressures
of the day away? What if that gentle, Swedish massage helped you combat cancer? What if bodywork helped you recover
from a strained hamstring in thal the time? What if your sleep, digestion, and mood all improved with massage and bodywork?
What if these weren't just "what if's"?
Evidence is showing that the more massage you can allow yourself, the better you'll feel. Here's why:
Massage as a healing tool has been around for thousands of years in many cultures.
Touching is a natural human reaction to apin and stress, and for conveying compassion and support. When you bump your
head or have a sore calf, the natural response is to rub it to feel better. The same was true of our earliest ancestors.
Healers throughout time and throughout the world have instinctually and independently
developed a wide range of therapeutic techniques using touch. Many are still in use today, and with good reason.
We now have scientific proof of the benefits of massage--benefits ranging from treating chronic disease and injuries to alleviating
the growing tensions of our modern lifestyles. Having a massage does more than just relax your body and mind--there
are specific physiological and psychological changes that occur, and even more so when massage is utilized as a preventative,
frequent therapy and not simply mere luxury. Massage not only feels good, but it can cure what ails you.
The Fallout of Stress
Experts estimate that 80 percent to 90 percent of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork is there to combat
that frightening number by helping us remember what it means to relax. The physical changes massage brings to your body
can have a positive effect in many areas of your life. Besides increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety, massage
lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, improves injury recovery, encourages deep sleep, and increases concentration.
It reduces fatigue and gives you more energy to handle stressful situations.
Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind. By producing a
meditative state or heightened awareness of the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing
with it true relaxation and peace.
The incredible benefits
of massage are doubly powerful if taken in regular "doses." Researchers from the Touch Institute (TRI) at
the Univesity of Miami, found that recipients of massage can benefit even in small doses (!% minutes of chair massage or a
half-hour table session). They also note that recieving bodywork two to three times a week is even more beneficial.
While this may not be feasible, it's nice to know that this "medicine" only gets better with frequency.
What It Does
In an age
of tchnical and , at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive, and humanistic approach based on
the body's natural ability to heal itself. Following is a brief list of the many known, research-based benefits
of massage and bodywork.
- Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more
oxygen and nutrients into tissue and vital organs,
- Stimulates the flow of lymph,
the body's natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been
shown to increase the cells that fight cancer. Furthermore, increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves
the condition of the body's largest organ--the skin,
- Relaxes and softens injured
and overused muscles,
- Reduces spasms and cramping,
- Increases joint flexibility,
- Reduces recovery time and helps prepare
the body for strenuous workouts, reducing subsequent muscle pain of athletes at any level,
- Releases endorphins--the body's natural painkiller--and is proven very beneficial in patients eith chronic
illness, injur, and post-op pain,
- Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and
can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred,
range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain,
pain for migraine suffers and decreases the need for medication,
- Provides exercise
and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion,
- Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as reduces the need for medication, eases
postpartum depression and anxiety, and contributes to a shorter hospital stay.
article is courtsey of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, ABMP.