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Massage therapy is one of the oldest healing practices. Records of it have been found in Egypt in 2,300 BC, in Hippocrates’ writings and 5,000-year-old Chinese medical texts. Massage is still around because of its great utility.

In the late 1700s, Swedish massage was developed as a result of a system of active and passive exercises for the gymnastic community.  In the United States, massage therapy was used largely by physicians from 1880 to 1910 but pretty much abandoned by 1940. Yet, in the 1970s, massage resurfaced as a form of complementary therapy. Currently, The National Institute of Health, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, recognize massage as a manual healing method.

Massage therapy is a practice in which pressure is applied at various points of the body. There are different types of massage, such as Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, shiatsu, Thai, pregnancy, reflexology, aquatic, and sports massage.

Therapists can use elbows, knees, and forearms, besides their hands, as well as devices in order to massage. Different parts of the body can also be massaged, from the whole body to the head, feet, and hands. Massage can even take place with recipients submersed or floating in water.

Benefits of a Massage

Massage Benefits

Massages offer a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Decreased Stress: Massages help decrease cortisol levels (“stress” hormone) while increasing the production of endorphins, inducing relaxation.
  • Muscle Health: Deep tissue massage (DTM) is highly recommended for athletes and gym-goers since it releases muscle tension and knots, breaks up scar tissue, and lengthens the muscles. DTM promotes oxygen and nutrient flow into the tissue and helps discard lactic acid. Consequently, massages help prevent muscle soreness and increase muscular recovery.
  • Enhances Flexibility and Range of Motion: Regular massage can help to improve flexibility and joint mobility, reducing the risk of injury during physical activities.
  • Muscular-Skeletal Rehabilitation: They help rehabilitate skeletal muscle, reducing pain and inflammation and promoting mitochondrial regeneration.
  • Alleviates Pain: Massage therapy can be effective in managing various types of pain, including chronic conditions like arthritis, migraines, and lower back pain.
  • Cardiovascular Health: The manipulation of muscles and tissues during a massage improves blood flow, which can enhance oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells and promote waste removal. This can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Boosts Immune Function: Some studies suggest that regular massage therapy can enhance the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells and improving lymphatic circulation.
  • Improves Posture: By releasing tension and promoting relaxation in muscles, massage therapy can help to correct imbalances in posture caused by prolonged sitting or poor ergonomics.
  • Promotes Better Sleep: The relaxation induced by massage therapy can help to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia symptoms.
  • Detox: Massages that work on the lymphatic system have detoxing effects as they support your body’s internal filtration system and help keep your immunity in check.
  • Well-being: In addition to reducing stress, massages can improve overall mental well-being by promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety, and increasing feelings of contentment, renewal, and overall well-being.

Medicinal Benefits of Massage Therapy

Although massage is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal disorders and as a relaxation technique, it can also be used to treat many conditions, such as anxiety and other mood disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and even symptoms of cancer.

There are numerous studies citing massage therapy’s efficacy. Here are some of the conditions that can be positively affected by a great massage:

  • Neck Pain: Patients with chronic neck pain have reported a decrease in neck pain intensity, and improved function and quality of life.
  • Fibromyalgia: Patients with fibromyalgia have reported less pain, less stiffness and fatigue, and fewer sleepless nights.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Children with rheumatoid arthritis have experienced lower anxiety and cortisol levels and a decrease in pain.
  • Labor: Women whose partners massage them during labor tend to have shorter labor and lower rates of tears, cesarean section, and usage of instruments for delivery.
  • Mental Health Disorders: Patients with anxiety and depression have reported improvement in symptoms since it helps enhance dopamine and serotonin levels.
  • Migraines: Sufferers of migraines have experienced less severity and frequency of pain, as well as fewer sleep disturbances.
  • Asthma: Asthmatic children have shown a decrease in behavioral anxiety and cortisol levels after massage and improvement in airway caliber and control of symptoms.
  • Cancer: Massage therapy has helped cancer patients decrease cortisol levels, anxiety, and anger while promoting a positive mood.
  • Distraught Babies: Infant massage can help babies relax, sleep, cry less, and even help promote growth. It can also positively affect their hormones, as well as their mothers’.

If you have a medical condition, make sure to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider and get familiarized with different kinds of massage in order to choose the one that suits your needs.

If you massage or get a massage from someone, remember to use a high-quality oil. Ideally, you should find a place with great massage therapists so they can really make a difference in your well-being. To do so, search for a professional massage near me to see who is operating in your area and whose services might be best for you.

Now that you know all the benefits of a massage, it’s time to take some time for yourself and get one. Even if you are in a healthy state, a massage can revitalize you, help you relax, detox your body, and keep you healthy. Remember, self-care should be another important aspect of your daily routine.

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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