Does Massage Therapy Provide Health Benefits?
Many people find a massage to be a relaxing way to ease sore muscles, zap stress, and just feel better. However, some people are surprised to learn that regular massage therapy can be much more than a pampering indulgence – it can actually improve both mental and physical health.
Several studies suggest that massage therapy can be medically beneficial in a number of ways. For instance, it can help:
- Counteract postural stress – If you have a desk job, you likely remain seated for extended periods of time, which exerts continual stress on your neck, shoulders, and back. By loosening muscles that become cramped from slouching, a massage can help the body return to a more natural and pain-free position.
- Stimulate circulation – During a massage, improved blood flow and lymph drainage can occur in two ways: through manual manipulation and as a result of the body’s release of chemicals in response to relaxation. This can reduce inflammation and enhance the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the muscles.
- Ease depression – Because it can be relaxing and therapeutic, a human touch can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in a lift in spirits and a reduction in blood pressure. It can also boost serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that can help stabilize moods and eliminate feelings of sadness and anger.
- Encourage healthy sleep – The state of deep relaxation induced by massage can affect the delta waves of the brain, which are connected to restorative “dream sleep.” This can be particularly beneficial for patients with pain that interferes with their rest.
- Boost immunity – By facilitating an increase in white blood cells, which play a key role in defending the body against infection, massage can enhance the body’s immune function.
- Relieve headaches – Through an immediate reduction in the brain’s perception of pain, massage can decrease the frequency and severity of tension headaches and migraines.
As more is being learned about the benefits of massage, the practice is being increasingly incorporated into standard treatment plans for a wide range of medical conditions, as well as post-operative care.
Some experts recommend a daily ten-minute massage for everyone – and a massage doesn’t have to be formal to be effective. Similar effects can be achieved through any activity that stimulates the body’s pressure receptors; e.g., scrubbing with a loofah in the shower, rubbing a tennis ball along sore arms or legs, or practicing yoga.
If you’d like to discuss this or any other health-related topic with a physician, please contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and no appointments are necessary.