Therapeutic Massage may help boost focus, relieve anxiety, and even improve sleep.
There are different types of massage, ranging from Swedish (the most common type) to massages that have a more targeted and specific purpose, like acupressure massage therapy a technique based on the theories of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that uses finger pressure to mobilize life force energy or sports massage which is aimed at helping athletes recover.
No matter type, the benefits of massage really come down to one thing: pressure. "The skin is moved during a moderate pressure massage, which results in a calming and slowing of the nervous system," says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute as the University of Miami School of Medicine. And that slowing of the nervous system leads to other physiological effects, too, like a decrease in heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and changes in electrical activity in your brain.
And if you can't visit us for your therapeutic massage and acupuncture treatment because of the COVID-19 pandemic transportation shut down and social distancing. You can give yourself a simple massage since we're all able to reach most areas on our body, you can do a 20-minute self-massage by using a massage brush in the shower or even rubbing a tennis ball against your limbs.
Here are 6 of the massage therapy's biggest benefits to know about.
If you suffer from anxiety, one study suggests that a massage can actually help significantly reduce your symptoms. “What we think is going on is it’s decreasing the sympathetic tone that we see with people with a generalized anxiety disorder and increasing this sort of parasympathetic response,” says Dr. Rapaport, who led the study.
The effects of massage on decreased anxiety can actually be long-lasting.
Sleep More Soundly
Have trouble sleeping or suffer from insomnia? Massage can actually help you sleep more deeply. “Sleep is all related to how much activity there is in the nervous system,” says Field. And when you get a massage, your nervous system itself actually slows down due to the pressure.
Plus, when you’re getting deeper, more restorative sleep, she says, that in turn reduces your levels of substance P (a neurotransmitter for pain), which reduces overall pain. So if you have any aches, massage will do double-duty.
We’ve all been there: You’ve been tossing and turning all night, work has been completely draining, and you feel like you don’t even have five minutes to take a deep breath. Some people get fatigued because they’re not sleeping enough. Other people are getting fatigued because of some biological factors.
But no matter what the cause of your fatigue is, one easy solution is (you guessed it) a massage. To get the best effects in fatigue reduction, try getting a therapeutic massage once per week.
Aid Certain Health Conditions
Your body has two different immune responses: Th1 and Th2, and they need to be in balance in order to have your immune system working optimally. If the Th2 gets in excess of the Th1 system, then you have autoimmune problems.
But during a massage, you’re slowing down stress hormones to help maintain this balance, she says. In turn, this can help make autoimmune conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes, or dermatitis, more manageable through things like decreased pain or fatigue.
Have trouble staying present in a meeting for more than 10 minutes or reading a book before bed? The effects of a massage will actually help improve your attention and ability to focus. That’s because in order for you to best pay attention, your heart rate needs to be lowered.
Massage slows your nervous system, your heart rate is effectively slowed down, too. During a massage, your pressure receptors stimulate vagal activity, which stems from a nerve in your brain that leads to several different branches of the body, including the heart. So when you’re undergoing the pressure of a massage, it could decrease your heart rate, as well, which ultimately will improve your focus.
If you experience an injury or joint pain (especially if the problem is long-term or chronic) you’ll also have what are called soft-tissue restrictions, which cause knots or trigger points of pain. Therapeutic Massage gets rid of soft-tissue restrictions and increases circulation.
Those restrictions can, over time, lead to problems like joint decay or other ligament problems, so by actively massaging out those soft-tissue restrictions, you're not only helping your current injury, but also helping prevent against other problems down the road. But the important thing when getting a massage for your injury is going to an experienced therapist who has extensive experience with injured patients.
Are there any risks? Although there aren't any proven risks of massage, if you have a medical history involving things like cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes, these are things you should make your therapist aware of. Pregnant women should also seek out a therapist with pregnancy experience.
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