7 Surprising Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

Posted on 21 January 2015
By Carlton Whitfield
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People seek massage therapy for many reasons, but the majorities go for the relaxation. The pampering, soothing lights and music, and feeling of luxury provided by a quality day spa such as Heaven Spa have very real psychological benefits, while the massage feels great physically. But did you know that massage has been shown to have measurable effects on your mental and physical health?

Here are 7 surprising health benefits of massage therapy.

1. Soothes chronic pain

Whether you have ongoing pain from an old injury or a complex condition such as fibromyalgia, massage therapy can help to relieve your suffering. When you are in pain, your body attempts to compensate by taking pressure off the part that aches. This throws the rest of your natural postural system out of balance, forcing your muscles to work harder. Massage therapy works the kinks and knots out of the muscles, allowing them to relax and more evenly support the painful area. In turn, this reduces your perceived pain from that region by removing the compounding factor of tightly bound muscles.

In addition, many forms of chronic pain are caused by emotional stress or ongoing activities that place your body in unnatural positions. For example, tension headaches occur when the muscles of your neck and head clench in response to stress. Lower back pain is often triggered by prolonged sitting and typing. Massage therapy removes the tension in your muscles and allows them to return to a natural, relaxed state.

2. Relieves anxiety and depression

Human touch, when provided in a way that feels emotionally safe, has been repeatedly shown to lower stress chemicals in the brain while raising the level of endorphins and other feel-good hormones. Massage therapy is intimate yet clinical, providing a safe space in which to enjoy the benefits of physical contact. The deep relaxation that is invoked allows the calming hormones to flood the brain, creating a long-lasting boost in mood and reduction of anxiety.

3. Improves gastrointestinal symptoms

The mind-gut connection is mysterious yet well-documented, and many people develop gastrointestinal distress due to situational or chronic tension. Like anxiety and depression, these digestive symptoms are often minimized by massage therapy due to the surge in calming hormones.

In people with ongoing digestive disorders, the body tends to respond to the pain by tensing up. This tension can make the digestive symptoms worse, leading to an escalating stress response. Massage therapy resets the body to a state of homeostasis, calming the symptoms of ongoing illnesses.

4. Promotes quality sleep

Stress and anxiety make it difficult to fall asleep and to remain asleep throughout the night. The mental and physical calming effects of massage can dramatically improve sleep quality, leaving you more refreshed and alert the next morning. Even in babies, light massage can encourage regular sleep patterns, helping them learn to sleep through the night and leaving parents less exhausted.

5. Unblocks natural energy flow

In traditional Chinese medicine, the unblocked flow of the natural energy force known as qi is considered vital for good health. Qi can become blocked for many reasons, from poor nutrition to bad habits. Massage therapy can unblock the flow by loosening the muscles and restoring the body to its natural unstressed state.

Although contemporary scientific thought does not support qi as it was originally conceived, it is true that blood flow can become constricted when the body is tightly knotted up, as when a foot or hand falls asleep. It makes some sense to generalize this into a sort of overall natural flow that can be improved through deep relaxation of the body’s systems.

6. Boosts the immune system

Although it is not yet entirely clear why, some evidence shows that massage therapy boosts the immune system. This can help minimize the number of colds and other minor illnesses you get each year, and even assist your body in mounting a fight against more severe diseases. While massage therapy will not entirely keep you from getting sick, it can make you feel much less miserable when you do.

7. Treats pregnancy-related symptoms

Pregnancy massage can help soothe the aches and pains that many pregnant women experience, as well as reducing swelling in the legs and arms. At a time when your choices for traditional pain medications are limited, these effects can feel particularly dramatic. Your massage therapist will use special pillows to help you get into a position that feels comfortable while providing the maximum benefits.

Winner of numerous awards, Heaven Spa provides a wide range of massage therapy services, from a quick stress relief massage through a therapeutic Swedish body massage. Contact Heaven Spa today to make an appointment or to discuss the available options.