Performed by a licensed massage therapist, massage therapy involves using different pressures, movements and techniques to manipulate muscles and other soft tissues in the body. With a goal of slowing down your nervous system, massage therapy can be used to release stress and tension, provide relief from symptoms, heal injuries and support wellness.
If you’re stressed and sore, you may think there’s nothing you can do but take some over-the-counter pain relievers and plow through your day. But licensed massage therapist, Victoria Bodner, says you don’t have to grin and bear it.
Massage is a great tool for relaxation, pain relief, easing muscle tension and more, says Bodner. Learn more about the common types of massage and their benefits.
Health benefits of massage
Massage therapy may be beneficial for anyone but has been noted to help those who various conditions like cancer, heart disease, stomach problems and fibromyalgia. You should make sure you talk to your therapist about any medical issues prior to your first session. Here are some of the benefits of massage therapy.
Reduces stress and anxiety
That feeling of calm after a massage can aid in reducing stress and anxiety, a study found. Your body has two nervous systems: a sympathetic nervous system that drives your “fight or flight” response in stressful situations and a parasympathetic nervous system that focuses on routine and day-to-day operations that lead to relaxation and rest. A massage is thought to increase your parasympathetic response, which can decrease feelings of anxiety.
Getting a massage can decrease cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters known to stabilize your mood. Studies have shown that massage therapy is beneficial for those who have insomnia related to menopause and congestive heart failure.
Lessens pain and muscle tension
A variety of studies have looked into how massage may help lessen pain like acute neck-pain, acute back-pain and knee-pain. The results show that relief may be short-term, rather than long-term and in some cases receiving a 60-minute massage multiple times per week had better results than fewer or shorter massages.
Improves immune function
Can a massage boost your immune system? A study suggests that regular massages increase your body’s level of white blood cells, which work to combat viruses.