5 Ways Massage Can Improve Your Health

A massage is not only a great opportunity to treat yourself, but it is also beneficial to your health. Useful properties of massage are not only limited to feelings of relaxation and wellness that people feel, at the same time there are also a ton of benefits you can reap from it.

1. Massage improves sleep

A good night’s sleep is necessary for a healthy mind and body, but for nights when insomnia strikes, you can look to massage to help you out as well.

Studies have shown that massages has a positive effect on sleep disorders, as it increases the frequency of delta waves[1] – a type of brainwave closely associated with deep sleep. This is also why plenty of people find it easier to fall asleep when they are enjoying a massage on massage chairs.

2. Massage relieves pain

Published recently in 2017, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommended massage as a form of treatment for lower back pain in this list.

Research indicated that massage improved pain relief when compared to other interventions such as exercise therapy, relaxation therapy, acupuncture or physiotherapy. One study[2] explained massages relieve pain by stimulating ‘non-pain’ or competing nerve fibers’ receptors, and preventing further pain transmission to the brain.

According to the study of the Touch Research Institute[3], regular massage also helps fight headaches, decrease pain and reducing the frequency of migraines. This is because massage can relax tensed muscles and relieve pressure from both your nerves and constricted blood vessels. With that, blood circulation are then restored and also improved. This also explains why researchers have also found that tension headaches can be reduced with the help of a massage.

3. Massage elevates mood and fights stress

There are bound to be stressful days at work and naturally, your mood will take a hit too. Other than exercising and indulging in your favorite hobbies, there is also one more thing you can consider to improve your mood too and that is – massage.

The Touch Research Institute[4] has also found out that massage can lower anxiety levels by reducing cortisol levels (stress hormone) while increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine which are neurotransmitters that induce positive emotions in your brain. Thus, massage can be considered as a remedy for stress, anxiety and depression.

4. Massage stimulates the immune system

Massage not only relaxes and invigorates your body, but it can also aid in improving your immune system. One study conducted by the scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles)[5], revealed an increase in the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells that fights bacteria and viruses to prevent us from falling ill) among people who have taken a 45-minute massage. Thus, your body will have an increased capability of fending itself against illnesses, along with less chances of falling ill.

5. Massage improves complexion and hair

When someone is in the pink of health, it shows through their glowing complexion and a head of shiny hair. The good news is massage can also improve your complexion and the condition of your hair.

As massage increases blood circulation, it also activates lymphatic drainage, a process where toxins are removed from cells. With regular massage sessions, it increases the frequency of toxins removal which promotes healthier skin, hence the glowing skin and hair.

[1] Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., ... & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86(3-4), 197-205.

[2] Wang, H. L., & Keck, J. F. (2004). Foot and hand massage as an intervention for postoperative pain. Pain management nursing, 5(2), 59-65.

[3] Hernandez-Reif, M., Dieter J., Field, T., Swerdlow, B., & Diego, M. (1998). Migraine headaches are reduced by massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 1-11. Doi: 10.3109/00207459808986453

[4] Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. (2005). Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 1-11. Doi: 10.3109/00207459808986453

[5] Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., & Bresee, C. (2012). A preliminary study of the effects of repeated massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in healthy individuals: a study of mechanisms of action and dosage. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 18(8), 789-97.

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