Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy is the rubbing or kneading of a person’s soft tissues. Practitioners use their hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms or feet to perform the massage.

Research shows that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and boosts the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. The benefits of massage are even greater for people living with chronic health conditions and injuries.

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During massage, the body experiences an increase in positive hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters that offer different benefits like reducing stress, anxiety and giving a feeling of well-being. During psychological stress, the production of these hormones decreases, which leads to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. During the course of massage, these hormones are stimulated and they are released into the blood stream to promote relaxation.

When a person receives a massage, their heart rate slows down, which also helps to reduce stress levels. This is because during massage, there is an increase in temperature that triggers the nervous system to relax. Moreover, it increases the circulation of the blood, which delivers more oxygen to the muscles and other soft tissues. This oxygen can help to relieve the stress, which in turn can also reduce muscle tension and pain.

Stress and anxiety are often caused by a buildup of cortisol, which is known as the “fight or flight” response. Studies have shown that getting a massage can reduce cortisol and increase the levels of serotonin, which is known to stabilize moods.

A regular massage can help to reduce the levels of cortisol in your body, which can improve sleep and reduce your risk for depression. It can also help you to relax and enjoy your life more. You will find that you are happier when your stress levels are low, and you feel more motivated to accomplish your goals.

The release of these positive hormones during a massage can also lead to improved mood and increased energy. These effects are long-lasting and can help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to relieving stress, a regular massage can also help with pain and other issues caused by tight muscles. For example, chronic neck and back pain can be caused by tense muscles in the upper shoulders and lower spine. A massage can help to release these tense muscles, which can reduce your pain and improve your posture. It can also help with headaches, including migraines and sinus pressure.

Reduces Muscle Pain

The pain-relieving effects of massage are multifaceted. The first is that it interrupts the cycle of inflammation that leads to muscle soreness. The inflammatory response is triggered when the nervous system sends a message to the muscles that something is wrong with them and they become hypersensitive. Massage has been shown to reduce the inflammatory response and increase cellular repair. Massage also decreases cortisol levels and increases serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that calm the nervous system.

Another way it helps relieve pain is by blocking the nerve pathways that carry the messages to the brain that cause you to feel pain. These nerve pathways can become overwhelmed when they receive too many messages and a vicious cycle is created where the pain signals are amplified beyond what is actually happening in the tissue. Scientists believe that massage therapy is able to close the gates on these pain pathways and send other sensory messages to the brain which cancel out or diminish the pain signals.

A specialized form of massage, called trigger point massage, is used to break down the adhesions in deeper muscle fibers that can lead to referred pain from other parts of the body. These adhesions are caused by injury, overuse, or tight muscle patterns.

During the massage, a therapist uses different types of pressure to work through the layers of muscle. This can be achieved with light strokes, deep tissue, or assisted stretching. Deeper muscle patterns often require deep pressure that is held for a longer period of time. During this type of massage, the therapist will often use fingers, knuckles, and closed fists to apply pressure in different areas of the body.

A recent meta-analysis compiled all of the research done on massage for musculoskeletal pain and found that, in comparison to sham or no treatment, massage significantly reduced pain in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Several factors contribute to the effectiveness of massage in treating musculoskeletal pain, including reducing stress and anxiety, increasing range of motion, promoting sleep, and increasing cellular repair and energy levels.

Increases Circulation

The proper flow of blood and other fluids allows the body to deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells while removing waste products. When there is an imbalance of these substances in the body, it can lead to pain, fatigue and disease. Massage can help correct these imbalances by increasing the rate at which waste and toxins are removed from the tissue, improving circulation in the process. This is due in part to the physical manipulation of the soft tissues, and also because of chemicals released during a massage session.

The main way that massage increases circulation is through vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels. This happens when a massage therapist applies pressure to the muscles of the body, causing them to relax and release nitric oxide. When the body’s blood vessels are widened, the blood is able to travel more quickly throughout the tissue and deliver nutrients to the muscles.

Another way that massage increases circulation is by causing the lymphatic system to become more active. Lymph is a milky white fluid that takes impurities away from the cells of the body and passes them through a system of valves and tubes that act as a filtering system before it is returned to the bloodstream. Massage can stimulate the flow of lymph in both directions, although it is most effective for stimulating its movement away from the arms and legs (and other parts of the body) versus towards these areas.

One other way that massage increases circulation is by causing muscle contractions. When a massage therapist applies pressure to the body’s soft tissues, the muscles respond by tightening and then relaxing. This results in a slight increase in blood flow as the heart works harder to pump blood through the veins.

Finally, massage can cause the skin to appear flushed and warm, a process called superficial hyperaemia. This is a result of capillaries in the skin responding to mechanical stimulation by dilating. However, this is not the same as “increased circulation.” It is likely that the majority of the extra blood is being diverted to the skeletal muscles from other sources, such as the heart.

Reduces Depression

Massage is associated with triggering the body’s relaxation response, which helps reduce depression. This response causes a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also increases serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

Studies have shown that massage lowers the symptoms of depression, including sadness and unhappiness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances. It also can help with the physical pain that often accompanies depression, such as headache and backache.

It is important to note that massage does not replace conventional treatments for depression, such as psychotherapy or medication. It should be used in conjunction with these treatments to create a comprehensive approach to managing depression and anxiety. It is also a good idea to practice self-care techniques at home, like deep breathing exercises and meditation, to enhance the positive effects of massage therapy.

Massage therapy has also been shown to improve interoception, or the ability to identify and feel sensations inside the body, which can be impaired in people with mental health conditions. This may explain why patients who receive regular massages are often able to better cope with their symptoms and feelings of sadness and unhappiness.

A massage therapist should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of depression to be able to properly assess and treat their clients. Because of this, it is a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends and family members or to search for therapists who have experience working with depression. It is also important to find out if a therapist has a license and complies with the local health and safety regulations. Some common precautions include avoiding massage during the first trimester of pregnancy and avoiding certain techniques if you have an allergy or other medical condition. It is a good idea to consult with a medical professional before incorporating massage into a treatment plan for depression and anxiety. They will be able to advise on whether massage is suitable and safe for you, as well as providing guidance on the most beneficial type of massage.