When it comes to the world of massage, we tend to think of luxurious spa days. While this is definitely part of it, therapeutic massage actually has a whole host of health benefits. Therapeutic massage is focused on improving holistic health and is an emerging part of complementary medical treatments. Therapeutic massage does not replace traditional medicine but can be a great additional therapy. This is particularly true for people dealing with medical conditions that are hard to manage exclusively with traditional medicine.
Reduce Muscle Tension
One of the most obvious benefits of therapeutic massage is that it can help to reduce muscle tension. Getting a massage can help ease the knots in your muscles. This can leave you feeling more relaxed and a lot less tense. When you think about how long we spend hunched over our desks, it’s no surprise that we build up a lot of stress, particularly in the back and shoulders. This is also true when it comes to working out any post-workout muscle soreness. Manipulating the muscles helps to relieve any stiffness in your muscles. Increased blood flow is another benefit of massage therapy. Some people with fibromyalgia find additional relief from gentle therapeutic massages to help ease muscle stiffness caused by the disease.
Help With Tension Headaches
In the same vein, the tension in our muscles can directly cause some serious headaches. Tight muscles in the neck and shoulders are a result of poor posture and our lifestyles. A build-up of this tension can result in painful headaches that aren’t very well understood. So getting a therapeutic massage that targets these muscles can alleviate the problem. Regular massages can both deal with the tension in these muscles and help prevent the tension from building up to the same extent. Getting massages isn’t just about your muscles but can have a helpful impact on many areas of health, as we will continue to explore.
Beyond the physical benefits of therapeutic massage, it also has major benefits for mental health. Part of this comes from the physical relief of tension, but massage also triggers some important responses in the body and brain. The first ties back to the idea of a luxurious spa day. It carves out time for you to focus on yourself without having to worry about all of the external stressors that plague us daily. It is important to particularly manage workplace stress. A massage at the right pressure can help to release serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, three neurochemicals that are directly tied to a better mental space. On a physical level, a massage helps you to get out of your head and promotes mental relaxation. It also allows for a decrease in heart rate that helps to promote a feeling of calm.
In line with loosening up your muscles, therapeutic massage can help to increase the flexibility of your muscles. This is useful if you’re looking to improve your performance in any sport. Flexibility is often underestimated when it comes to physical tasks, but it plays a huge role. Increased flexibility also results in an increased range of motion. By increasing blood flow in the body, more blood flows to not just the muscles but also the joints, allowing them to become stronger and more flexible. This can be very useful for people struggling with illnesses that work to restrict motion. While massage won’t cure any diseases, it can help alleviate or slow down some of the symptoms. Another group that can benefit from therapeutic massage and its impact on flexibility is people recovering from surgery. Working on muscle tightness and flexibility can help with recovery alongside physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Boost Your Immune System
A quite surprising benefit of therapeutic massage is that it can help to boost your immune system. Research shows that massage can help to reduce levels of cortisol, another hormone tied to stress. Decreased stress helps the body to better focus on its immune response. Stress dramatically reduces your immune response, and so the destressing benefits of Even, more importantly, it works on the lymphatic system, releasing phenotypic lymphocyte markers. Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow and then travel through the body throughout the lymphatic system. These lymphocytes then boost the production of white blood cells, which drive the body’s immune response. Therapeutic massage can focus on lymphatic drainage and benefit the immune system. Massage also works to increase blood circulation, which allows these white blood cells to circulate throughout the body. If you’re concerned about your immune system, there are also certain foods to avoid for your immune system.
Reduce Fascia Pain
While we spoke about muscle pain earlier, there is also the fascia to consider. Fascia refers to the connective tissue that covers all of our organs, muscles, and other parts of our insides. What we feel as muscle pain is often actually fascia pain. It tightens up in response to physical stress, and massage can help to loosen it up. While we might not hear a lot about fascia in our daily lives, they play a huge role in the functioning of our body. Fascia can be damaged by both a lack of activity and by repetitive motion putting strain on our connective tissue. There is a form of therapeutic massage called myofascial massage that focuses specifically on using pressure to release tightened fascia.
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