The Benefits of Massage (Plus 5 Massage Aids)
The science doesn’t lie — not only does massage feel good, but it is truly good for your health! Ongoing research has consistently proven that massage therapy has the power to deliver long-term health benefits. Not only can massage have positive effects on physical health, but it can even improve mental and emotional health as well.
In this article, we’re covering everything from the scientifically backed benefits of massage therapy, different kinds of massages, to five massage aids that can be used at home. Take charge of your health and well-being and read on.
Types of Massage Therapy
Massage is the act of manipulating muscles and joints of the body to alleviate tension or pain. You may think that massage needs to be administered by someone else, but it is something that you can perform on yourself. A practice deeply rooted in the history of natural healing, several forms of massage remain popular today. Use this list of different types of massage styles to consider which type may be right for you.
- Trigger point massage: Consists of administering alternating pressure levels with the fingers, knuckles, or elbows for a measured period between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of massage is meant to alleviate muscle spasms.
- Swedish massage: Combines soft, long, kneading strokes with light, rhythmic tapping strokes along with the top layer of muscles. This form of massage is designed for relaxation and energy stimulation.
- Deep tissue massage: Slower, more forceful strokes reach deep layers of muscle and connective tissue. This form of massage is intended to help with an injury.
- Sports massage: Manipulates muscles that may experience significant physical demand as a result of an active lifestyle. This form of massage is geared toward athletes.
Physical Benefits of Massage
Any form of massage is a great way to loosen your muscles and increase both flexibility and mobility, but science proves that the benefits go much deeper than that.
Boost Immune System
Massage therapy increases the activity of white blood cells that help improve overall immune function. Studies have shown that because massage can stimulate the toxin-filtering lymphatic system, it can enhance the body’s ability to fight off infection.
Lower Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Massage has been shown to improve cardiovascular health in all individuals, regardless of exercise level. The International Journal of Preventive Medicine conducted a study on hypertensive women. They found that participants who received Swedish massage experienced a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for as long as 72 hours after receiving massage therapy.
Reduce Muscle Pain and Increase Range of Motion
While massage can certainly help relieve symptoms of soreness in an athlete’s muscles after a hard workout, it also has the power to reduce pain for those with arthritis. One study found that moderate-pressure massages coupled with daily self-massage led to reduced pain and increased range of motion.
Reduce Type II Diabetes Symptoms
A 2020 study evaluated the feasibility of Chinese massage in the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Chinese massage techniques are performed with the hands and include kneading, rolling, and acupressure. Results found that by combining massage with metformin, patients were able to reduce their drug treatments!
Decrease Migraines and Headaches
Massage focused on the neck and shoulder muscles has been linked to a decrease in headaches and migraines. For this reason, doctors frequently recommend massage therapy to those who have recently had a concussion or face post-concussion syndrome. In one study, headache frequency was significantly reduced within the first week of the massage protocol and further suggested that this could apply to chronic tension headache sufferers.
Emotional & Mental Health Benefits of Massage
Although massage therapy is a physical act, the nontangible benefits go much further than that. The most notable emotional and mental benefits of massage include:
Increase Relaxation & Better Sleep
Stress relief massages have been proven to reduce cortisol levels (the hormone that causes stress), thus triggering the brain to respond by entering a deep state of relaxation. This decrease in physical and mental stress can subsequently lead to deeper, easier sleep.
Decrease Symptoms of Anxiety
Regular massage naturally lowers overall stress levels, which can reduce the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. A study on generalized anxiety disorder found that therapeutic massage could reduce symptoms of anxiety by 50 percent.
Decrease Symptoms of Depression
The act of being relaxed leads to an overall happier state of mind. However, research conducted on severe mood disorders such as depression shows that massage has a legitimate long-term effect on mental health.
5 Commonly Used Massage Aids
There is no time like the present to start putting your health first. With such a wide array of products on the market, below are a few of the best massage aids that can be used independently. By incorporating these tools into your daily routine, you will soon begin to reap the health and wellness benefits that come with a massage.
- Foam Roller: Foam rolling can prevent injury, increase blood flow and relax tight muscles. Experts recommend foam rolling before and after a workout to maximize its effects.
- Heating Pad: Heat is a natural pain reliever and is commonly used to loosen the muscles before any deep massage treatments. If you have a sensitive muscular area, try using a heating pad for 15 minutes before administering or receiving any deep-tissue massage techniques.
- Aromatherapy/Essential Oils: Whether you use essential oils in a diffuser, put a few drops in a bath, or rub the oil directly onto your skin, scents can be a relaxing complement to massage therapy.
- Massage Chair: Advancements in technology have enabled massage chairs to deliver a premium massage in the comfort of your home. Some of the best zero gravity massage chairs can provide long-term benefits like improving circulation, easing lower back tension, and reducing arthritis pain.
- Massage Gun: For those who are highly active, a massage gun is a valuable handheld massage tool to have at home. Like traditional massage, a massage gun will reduce inflammation, helping to relax muscles and decrease soreness.
Besides the immediate benefit of relaxation, massage therapy is a great resource to increase your overall health and well-being. As the volume of research on this practice continues to grow, the list of reasons to utilize massage will grow right along with it. The longevity of your health is essential; with massage, you can give your mind and body the care they deserve.
About the Author
Jim Coppins is a partner and COO of Massage Chair Store. He has nearly three decades of experience working in product development, sales, marketing, and supply chain logistics for massage chairs and related relaxation products.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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