Health Benefits of Massage Therapy | Apotheque
Many people are familiar with massage therapy, but do not know the full scope of health benefits that massage therapy imparts. The health benefits of massage therapy extend far beyond just providing increased relaxation and stress relief. Understanding why massage therapy is important is vital to taking the necessary steps to make massage therapy a consistent part of your life and routine. Many people wonder, “How does massage therapy work?” and let their lack of familiarity with massage therapy deter them from what is a transformative and extremely beneficial practice. To help you understand what massage therapy is, how it works, and the various health benefits massage therapy imparts, we have compiled an introductory guide to help you have the information you need to decide whether or not massage therapy could benefit and improve your life.
What is Massage Therapy and How Does it Work?
Massage therapy is traditionally understood to be the manual manipulation of soft body tissue. These tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues throughout the body. The intention of massage therapy is to improve and enhance an individual’s health and boost their overall well-being. There are many different types of massage therapy, which are called modalities. Individuals incorporate massage therapy into their lives for a variety of different reasons including, but not limited to, the reduction of stress and anxiety, to aid in the rehabilitation of injuries, to reduce pain and stiffness, to relax the muscles, and to improve overall health.
The two fundamental types of massage therapy are known as rehabilitative massage and relaxation massage. Rehabilitative massage is often referred to as a deep tissue, therapeutic, or clinical massage and is often utilized in chiropractic, clinical, and hospital settings. Conversely, relaxation massage is often called a Swedish massage and is practiced in wellness centers, resorts, and spas.
The Different Varieties of Massage Therapy
Within these two broad categories of massage therapy, there are many different types and varieties of massage that can be beneficial. Below is a high-level description of a handful of different types of massage therapy and what they often entail. Be mindful that this list if not comprehensive, but merely a sampling of different, popular types of massage therapy.
Deep Tissue Massage Therapy: A deep tissue massage is a therapeutic massage that is focused and targets knots within the muscles of the body. These adhesions and problem areas in the deeper layers of the muscle and connective tissue require slow strokes and friction across the grain of the muscle to help relieve pain and increase mobility in the muscles.
Thai Massage Therapy: Thai massage therapy is a unique variety of massage therapy that incorporates movements associated with yoga and passive stretching with pressing massage movements to aid in the alignment of the energies of the body, reduce stress, and improve range of motion.
Swedish Massage Therapy: Swedish massage therapy is a common type of massage offered in gyms, clinics, spas, and wellness centers and is often thought to be synonymous with most individual’s understanding of massage therapy. Swedish massage utilizes an understanding of physiology and anatomy as its basis. Swedish massage therapy often uses lotion of oil on the surface of the skin and involves the massage therapist using broad general strokes at the beginning and then increasingly targeted and specific strokes as problem areas are identified. In Swedish massage therapy, there are five basic strokes, which are tapotement (percussion), vibration (rocking and shaking movements), petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting), effleurage (long, smooth strokes), and friction (small circular movements or wringing).
Aromatherapy Massage Therapy: An aromatherapy massage is a type of Swedish massage that incorporates essential oils within the massage oil to impart a pleasing scent and additional health benefits. Depending on the unique needs of the individual, the essential oils can be tailored to address health conditions or issues they may be having, such as insomnia, back pain, or certain digestive disorders.
Shiatsu Massage Therapy: Shiatsu massage therapy is a type of Japanese massage that applies localized pressure using the massage therapist’s fingers, hands, or elbows to create a rhythmic sequence across the surface of the body. Often, each contact or point is held for between two to eight seconds. Shiatsu massage therapy is derived from traditional medicine and is intended to stimulate acupressure points on the body to aid in balance and improve the flow of energy through the body.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy: Hot stone massage therapy involves a massage therapy placing heated, smooth stones of specific areas and points of the body. Often, the stones utilized are basalt, which is a volcanic rock that is able to retain heat well. The heat within the stones aids in muscle relaxation, which can help the massage therapy to address problem areas more quickly and efficiently.
Reiki Energy Healing: One type of massage therapy that is still widely misunderstood is Reiki energy healing. Reiki is a Japanese technique to relaxation and stress reduction that is intended to promote healing. Reiki energy healing involves laying hands on the body to promote the flow of life force energy throughout the body. Traditional types of massages are often more rigorous in the manipulation of the muscles that Reiki energy healing.
With this basic understanding of what massage therapy is and how it works, it is now possible to explore some of the many health benefits that massage therapy imparts.
The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy
There is no shortage of amazing health benefits from massage therapy. While massage therapy was once considered an alternative option, it is increasingly becoming a popular and mainstream solution for a variety of health issues. To help you understand some of the benefits massage therapy offers, we have compiled a list of a handful of the most remarkable health benefits of massage therapy.
Massage Therapy is Relaxing
One of the features that massage therapy is best known for is its ability to help promote relaxation. A body that is tense is more prone to injury and can develop a significant amount of negative health side effects as a result, such as headaches, weight gain, digestive problems, and sleeplessness. In a world that is increasingly busy and bustling, it can be difficult to find the time and setting to be truly relaxed and allow your body to reset and heal as it needs to. Massage therapy provides an ideal setting and method to get the body back to a state of relaxation, loosen the muscles, and help prevent injury due to tense muscles.
Massage Therapy Reduces Stress
Many people do not realize the incredible impact that stress can have on their overall health and well-being. When the human body experiences stress, it triggers a hormonal response that results in the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol can contribute to many negative health side effects, including anxiety, weight gain, headaches, gut issues, and insomnia. Massage therapy has been shown to be able to help decrease the levels of the cortisol within the body, which allows the body to escape its stress response and enter a state of recovery. This reduction in cortisol can not only increase the health of the individual, it can also be lead to an improved mood. When maintained over a long period of time, massage therapy is capable of doing much more than just reducing stress, it can also help to reduce pain, increase energy levels, and improve an individual’s emotional well-being.
Massage Therapy Can Help Improve Posture
Posture is a huge issue for many Americans and poor posture leads to a myriad of health issues, including neck, back, and muscle pain. Chronic back pain is one of the most common reasons that individuals miss work and a common cause of disability and chronic back pain is often a result of poor or incorrect posture while sitting and/or standing. Poor posture results in increased strain on the musculature of the body, which can cause tense muscles, pain, and/or spasms in the back, neck, legs, hips, and/or glutes.
Massage therapy can help to identify poor posture as the source of pain and health issues and aid in bringing the body back into its proper alignment. Posture improvement of often considered one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy. Massage therapy will target muscles that are stressed and strained due to bad posture and will help to relax and loosen them. Once this pressure and pain are alleviated, it is much easier for the body to return to an alignment that is pain-free and does not apply stress to the muscles. To reap the full posture benefits of massage therapy, it is best to have a consistent schedule of massage therapy to have continued relief. In addition to relaxing strained muscles, consistent massage therapy will also help improve the body’s posture by allowing the joints to have greater mobility, range of motion, and flexibility by relieving pressure points along the body. When practiced consistently massage therapy will help correct and improve the posture and alignment of the body.
Massage Therapy Can Help Improve Circulation
Consistent massage therapy over time can help improve circulation within the body by bringing tense, stuff, and damaged muscles the blood supply that they need to promote healing. The hands-on pressure that massage therapy utilizes helps to move the blood throughout damaged or problem areas within the body. This allows blood to flow into the tissues. Massage therapy also often utilizes a pulling, twisting, and squeezing action as a part of massage technique which can aid in the removal of lactic acid from the muscles, which in turn flows metabolic waste products away from internal organs and muscles and helps boost lymph fluid circulation.
Massage Therapy Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
One of the most remarkable benefits of massage therapy is its ability to help reduce blood pressure levels over time when practiced consistently. Massage therapy reduces cortisol levels within the body and can also reduce sources of tension, anxiety, and depression, which all aid in reducing blood pressure levels. Lower blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of kidney failure, stroke, and/or heart attack, as well as many other health issues.
Massage Therapy Can Promote Muscle Relaxation
Muscle relaxation is commonly considered one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy. In addition to improved overall relaxation, targeted muscle relaxation can be hugely beneficial. Massage therapy targets the sources of pain within the body and targets tense muscles to help increase mobilities and provide relaxation to the body. Massage therapy promotes circulated to injured muscles, which floods those muscles with blood, oxygen, and nutrients that help to heal the damaged tissues the relieving swelling (edema) and stiffness from the muscles and joints. This helps to reduce the amount of pain within the muscles and joints and increase flexibility. In addition, massage therapy promotes the release of endorphins within the body, which is a hormone that boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, subsequently diminishing feelings of pain. This release of endorphins also helps to improve the mood and reduce feelings of anxiety or stress.
Massage Therapy Can Help Boost The Body’s Immune System
One benefit of massage therapy that many people are not aware of is its ability to help strengthen the immune system. How can massage therapy improve the immune system? Several studies have indicated that massage therapy helps not only to reduce stress, which can trigger an immune response, but also to boost the immune systems cytotoxic capacity and ability to deliver nourishment. This means that the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells” is increased, allowing it to ward off infections and sickness more efficiently. For those looking to boost their body’s natural ability to protect itself, introducing a consistent massage therapy program may be a beneficial avenue to pursue.
Massage therapy offers individuals no shortage of remarkable health benefits. To begin experiencing these benefits, book an appointment at Apotheque Lifestyle Spa today.