Massage is the intentional use of touch to improve health and mood. It has been around for thousands of years and has endured much longer than other forms of remedial & preventative medicine. Why? Touch is our basic sense and massage is instinctive to all of us. We hug those who are in need of comfort, a mother instinctively rubs her child’s sore knee, we instinctively massage an injury. It is now known that without positive touch we fail to thrive.
Massage has endured because it has the power to improve our general health and mood. It does this by strengthening the immune system and improving circulation. One of the key ways it strengthens our immune system is by reducing stress. Massage reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Improving circulation speeds up the flow of oxygen and nutrients to our cells and improves the cleaning of waste products. Massage has also been shown to relieve pain (e.g. labour pain, headaches, arthritis). This is thought to be due to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers & feel good hormones. Furthermore massage has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. All of which lead to improved mood.
Research into the benefits of massage took off in the 1980’s and there is now a growing body of evidence to show that massage is effective in treating a large variety of health problems from asthma to arthritis, diabetes to depression. The Touch Research Institute in Miami was set up for this purpose. To find out more you can visit the Institute’s website here:
Other general benefits of massage include:
- Relief from stiffness in the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body
- Increased mobility of the joints
- Improved skin condition
- Better sleep
- Calm energy
- Enhanced alertness
- Increased self confidence
- Better self awareness
It is important to remember that the benefits of massage are individual, varied and cumulative and in order to enjoy the key health benefits of massage it is important to try and incorporate it into your life on a regular basis. The more frequent the massage the more effective and long-lasting the results. Not everyone can afford massage therapy on a weekly or monthly basis, but you could try incorporating it into your life whenever you need it most.
Whilst research into massage is improving all the time, the best way for you to verify the benefits is to discover it for yourself!