Most of us know of massage therapy’s ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and tension, but not everyone is aware of its entire plethora of benefits. Few people believe they won’t enjoy a massage in some way, but most are still unaware of just how many advantages massage can provide. Massage therapy can help many types of people with all sorts of different lifestyles and obstacles. Here are several ways regular massage therapy can help a wide array of individuals:
Recovery After Exercise or Strenuous Physical Training
For athletes and fitness enthusiasts who push their bodies to the limits on a regular basis, massage can be one of the most beneficial post-training routines. Not only does an after workout rubdown help release muscle tension and any pain that may have built up: it can actually increase muscular recovery time. Scientific studies show that massage administered after strenuous exercise decreases inflammation and promotes muscle recovery. For those taking part in a demanding regimen of physical activity, the benefits of massage therapy go much further than just post-workout relaxation.
Infant Colic And Digestive Discomfort
New parents are probably tired of hearing how important touch is to their infants, but how many hear all of the reasons why they should be massaging their babies? Infant massage not only helps parent bond with their newborns through frequent touch and skin-to-skin contact: it can also help gently alleviate a number of issues, namely digestive problems. Baby massage can stimulate the digestive system, which can help ease constipation, cramps, and gas. It can also help naturally relieve colic, which can be a very frustrating issue for parents to contend with.
Relieving Symptoms of Depression
Depression is different for everyone: it can range from mild to severe, from a few weeks to a lifelong struggle, and can have varying symptoms that manifest in unique ways for each person. Despite its many forms, individuals dealing with depression or similarly debilitating mental illnesses can benefit from massage therapy in more ways than one. Several studies have shown the physiological effects of massage on depressed individuals from varying backgrounds, including reduced cortisol and norepinephrine levels. Excess amounts of cortisol are caused by stress and have negative effects on the body, while high levels of norepinephrine denote high levels of anxiety. The reduction of these two hormones after a massage therapy regimen indicates that both stress and anxiety were actually decreased after using this as an aspect of treatment.
For drug and alcohol users in the early stages of recovery, relapse prevention can be both a constant struggle and a perpetual task. Relapse prevention is especially important in the first few months of recovery, and part of being vigilant is understanding the stages of a relapse. The anatomy of a relapse is made up of three phases: The first is emotional, the second mental, and the third is the actual physical relapse. Emotional relapse begins with overwhelming emotions like stress, anxiety, and fatigue. This stage can also show a decrease in adequate sleep.
The depression studies previously discussed have shown massage therapy’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Regular bodywork can also relieve fatigue that is unrelated to serious physical illness and help with insomnia by increasing levels of serotonin, an important sleep hormone. Anything that helps alleviate these symptoms on an emotional and physical level, like massage, can help stop a relapse in its beginning stages, before it ever burgeons into something more serious.
Better Diabetes Control
For individuals with diabetes there have been a lot of conflicting claims being made, but there are studies that show regular massage can be an advantageous part of treatment. More than one clinical trial has displayed that regular massages over several months decreased blood glucose levels, and also showed declining HbA1c levels in those who weren’t obese or insulin dependent. This means that massage therapy can actually help control blood sugar levels, which is a constant struggle for those diagnosed with both types of diabetes.
Another study showed that most patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy either showed improvement or alleviation of symptoms after just ten massage treatments. Massage is well known for promoting circulation and reducing lymph edema, and improved circulation along with decreased swelling are both purported to help with all types of neuropathy and neuropathic pain. Controlling diabetic swelling is especially important, given that some diabetes medications actually cause edema.
Pain can be caused a number of things, ranging from physical illness or injury to neurological disruptions, even high amounts of stress or worry. Either way, those who suffer from chronic pain should definitely give massage therapy a try. A few different styles of bodywork have been shown to help with both stress and tension headaches, and migraine sufferers have reported relief from massage as well.
A majority of those with lower back pain and even pain from cancer and its treatment have shown an interest in utilizing massage therapy as part of their treatment, and report that it does ease the pain and help them feel better overall. When it comes to issues like musculoskeletal pain and soreness, massage therapy can be an extremely important part of your pain management routine, as it addresses the real cause of the pain instead of just masking it.
This is just a small sampling of the specific issues that can be addressed by massage therapy. In the end, countless numbers of lifestyles, ailments, and circumstances can gain something from a regular bodywork routine. If you think you may be one of them, ask your doctor for a referral, or call up your local spa today.