But it turns out massages are no longer just for pampering, and the benefits go far beyond relaxation. Research shows that massage therapy is a treatment that aids in a variety of different health ailments, some of which are improved sleep, less anxiety, and pain management.
If you are on the fence about massages, here are three reasons you should consider booking today!
Sleep deprivation is an epidemic that plagues the majority of the American population. According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million Americans have a sleep disorder and seven out of ten Americans say they experience stress and anxiety daily that interrupts their sleep.
It’s no secret sleep has a drastic impact on overall health and wellness. In the long term, lack of sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, immunodeficiency, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.
The goods news is massage therapy is a great natural remedy to sleep. The American Massage Therapy Association even confirmed this fact. That’s because massage is a great stress reliever (and stress is a common culprit of robbing our precious hours of shut-eye). When your body is relaxed, your heart rate lowers and breathing slows. Deep sleep becomes easier to achieve after a massage because your muscles remember the sensation vividly enough to recreate it at home.
But achieving good sleep goes far beyond the occasional massage. Make sure you are sleeping a bed that doesn’t cause aches and pains and your sleeping environment is conducive for sleep (meaning it’s dark, cool, and quiet).
Speaking of stress and anxiety, there are far more consequences to these emotions than just lost sleep. Long-term anxiety takes a toll on your central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system, making you more prone to sickness, weight gain, headaches, and high blood pressure.
However, therapeutic massage can be helpful for reducing anxiety.
If you carry anxiety symptoms in your shoulders, back, and neck, a professional massage can specifically target those areas. Regardless of where you carry tension, studies have shown that massage increases your body's levels of oxytocin and serotonin, which results in lowered stress. The feeling of relaxation created by regular massage therapy also lowers your blood pressure and elevates your mood.
Not only can a body rub bring stress levels down, but it may also help ease pain. Harvard Health found that therapeutic massage helps relax tense muscles, tendons, and joints. Although research is still ongoing, a variety of studies have proven that massage can reduce hand, neck, and back pain.
However, beware that there are varying levels of pressure used in massage. While deep-tissue massage is painful for some, others don’t mind the high pressure.
Massages do not have to be painful to be therapeutic. Be sure to tell your therapist the type of touch you prefer (light touch, firm pressure, hard pressure). Lighter may be more relaxing, but firmer may be better for pain relief. The key is to give it a try and find out what’s best for you!
Lisa Smalls is a freelance writer from North Carolina. She discovered the power of massage therapy in 2016, when she suffered from severe tension and pain in her upper back and shoulders. Now, her pain is gone, but she looks forward to her deep-tissue massage each month to keep it from coming back!