Receiving regular therapeutic massage can have many wonderful benefits for both body and mind. Massage helps to calm the nervous system, support the immune system, and promote healing in the musculoskeletal system. Massage therapy has been shown to improve one’s sense of well being and quality of life, relieve stress, enhance sleep, reduce pain,
increase mobility, enhance athletic performance, alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and much more!
Massage and Stress
Massage therapy soothes the nervous system, and helps to induce the relaxation response - “a physical state of deep relaxation.” This slows your breath and heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and allows your muscles to relax. It also decreases the production of stress hormones, while increasing the availability of serotonin - a chemical which contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Research has shown that the relaxation response may also help to reduce pain, improve sleep, decrease fatigue, increase energy, and decrease the physical symptoms associated with stress, such as high blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety, trouble sleeping, persistent fatigue, digestive problems, and psychological issues.
Getting regular massage when we’re healthy may help us stay that way. Massage therapy supports healthy immune function by increasing the body’s white blood cell activity, which helps us fend off illness and disease. Massage can also help keep the lymphatic system healthy, which is closely tied to our immune system. Lymph collects waste and foreign substances throughout the body, routing them to the lymph nodes where they are eliminated, and then eventually excreted. Receiving gentle Lymphatic Drainage massage helps to clear the lymph nodes, and facilitate improved circulation of lymph throughout the body.
Massage and Pain
Therapeutic Massage is helpful in many acute and chronic pain disorders, including post-operative pain, chronic neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and migraine headaches among others. Regular massage has been shown to help with the following:
• Low Back Pain - reduces pain and the use of pain medication, increases mobility.
• Fibromyalgia - reduces pain, stiffness, fatigue, and sleeplessness; lowers stress hormone levels; reduces anxiety and depression.
• Arthritis - reduces pain and stiffness; improves joint function and mobility.
• Migraines - reduces head and neck pain, decreases use of pain medications, lessens sleep disturbances; increases frequency of headache-free days.
Expectant mothers benefit from massage therapy in a variety of ways. Women receiving regular massage throughout pregnancy have lower levels of stress hormones, less anxiety and depression, and improved mood and sleep. They also experience less leg and back pain. Regular massage therapy is correlated with fewer complications during and after birth, including reduced prematurity rates, reduced need for pain medications, shorter labor times, fewer days in the hospital, and less postpartum depression.
Cancer Support and Recovery
Slow, gentle, nurturing massage can help support mind, body, and spirit for those experiencing or recovering from cancer. Massage therapy during this difficult experience has been shown to:
• improve sleep and lessen fatigue
• ease some of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
• support the immune system, including increasing white blood cell production
• help alleviate the anxiety and depression that often occur
After experiencing the supportive, mindful touch of a communicative massage therapist, people with cancer have reported that they felt more grounded, connected, whole, lovable, mentally calm, physically energized, and reconnected to their bodies.
Incorporate massage therapy as part of your regular self-care program, or use it as a way to help you accomplish your health and wellness goals!
Sarahlynn M Etta, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified MLD Therapist
Benefits of Massage
How Does Massage Work?
How Massage Works at Alleviating Your Nervous System
Massage Therapy can be a Valuable Component of a Wellness Program
Massage Therapy Effects
Massage Therapy May Boost Immune System Functioning
Oncology: Bodywork for Cancer Patients