You live in the modern world and that means certain stresses can certainly pile up. You’re dealing with issues your ancestors never had to face. So, how can you interrupt the noise and bring some balance into your life?
It feels a little indulgent at first, but the truth is, it’s not selfish at all. Actually, it may be even more critical to your health than you previously thought.
Now, the common belief is self-care is largely a mental exercise. Self-care allows you to recognize you too are of value. As a result of taking good care of yourself, you’ll feel better about yourself.
The problem is, most people think of self-care as a luxury. Nothing could be further from the truth. Self-care is essential for good health.
One great way to take care of yourself is by scheduling a proper massage. Science shows that regularly scheduled massage sessions may have general and specific health benefits.
Keep this in mind the next time you think about “spoiling” yourself.
What Makes A Proper Massage?
Unfortunately, not all massage techniques are created equal. Sure, they all involve pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the soft tissues of your body including your skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. But what are the different types of massage?
Various Massage Techniques
Swedish Massage: Among the most gentle of options, Swedish technique is based on long strokes, kneading, and vibration.
Sports Massage: Similar to Swedish massage, Sports massage is geared towards athletes in order to help their hard-working muscles recover from overuse and injury.
Trigger Point Massage: This massage zeroes in on your muscle fibers. Generally, people who have chronically tight muscles from overuse appreciate the trigger point technique.
Deep Tissue Massage: This style focuses on slower and more forceful strokes. The intention here is to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
Sometime, massage practitioners will combine massage therapy techniques and also use essential oils to enhance the experience with aromatherapy.
The Best Option for You
First, you want to ask yourself the following question:
What type of massage do I need?
For instance, if you’re looking to handle soft tissue damage due to a sudden accident or injury, like a fall or blow to the body, you’ll require a different type of attention than if you just want to unwind. Or if you suffer from overusing your muscles, you’ll want to pinpoint where areas of the body cannot heal between athletic activities.
Certain situations could limit your activity and even decrease your range of motion. Luckily, massage can help in both cases. Now, you’ll need to talk to your massage therapist, because she’ll likely take different approaches depending on how you got injured or how you see your lifestyle.
When looking for the right specialist…
- Know your needs.
- Research their specialties or certifications.
- Draft a list of questions and concerns.
A skilled therapist can help you come up with a proper routine and help you out with the logistics of affordability should you wish to have frequent sessions.
What Can Massage Do For Your Health?
But let’s get to the good stuff. If it seems like massage is a lot to consider, it’s true. But, a regular schedule of treatments may be worth all the trouble. Let’s take a look at the ways in which massage might potentially be the answer for you.
1. Pain Relief
People the world over deal with pain at some level. But, chronic pain can affect your livelihood and more. In fact, a recent study profiled the effects of an hour of massage once a week on people with chronic lower back pain.
The results of this particular study showed that people felt significantly better faster than those with standard medical care. In addition, the subjects of the study who scheduled regular massages used less over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs than those who didn’t.1
That’s why many people now refer to massage therapy as a natural painkiller. In fact, there are studies exploring whether or not massage can help with:
- Pain from migraines
- Discomfort from injury
- Suffering caused by serious illness2
2. Lymph Flow
What exactly is the lymphatic system? Well, it happens to play a vital role in your body, but few people actually know about it. The lymphatic system consists of vessels that serve as your body’s drainage system. Lymph flow transports excess fluid and metabolic waste into your circulatory system.3
Of course, things like surgery or muscle damage can disrupt this flow. So, if you face certain lymphatic issues may want to pursue massage as a source of comfort. Ask your therapist to target the affected area — the work might help to move waste fluids through your body with gentle pressure.4
3. Mental Support
Stress is probably the most common reason people schedule a massage. However, massage may have further-reaching mental support implications.
For instance, one study showed that massage therapy lowered amounts of cortisol. In addition, serotonin and dopamine were raised. Of course, cortisol is known as “the stress hormone” for its role in the fight-or-flight response. And serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that are associated with pleasant emotions, so who wouldn’t want those level to rise? 5
4. Immune Support
How can massage offer assistance to your immune system? Well, in a recent interesting study, participants had blood samples taken before, during, and after a massage. The results showed that the Swedish massage group had a higher count of white blood cells after the massage. As you probably know, white blood cells are an incredibly important component of the immune system, helping to defend your body against disease.6
5. Sleep Support
This one’s a biggie. You may or may not know, but insufficient sleep is associated with several health issues. And conversely, if you’re suffering from something like recovery from surgery or a major health condition, you may experience altered sleep. But research shows that massage therapy might actually be able to help improve your sleep quality.7,8
6. Sports Recovery
Whether you’re an athlete or a hobbyist, there’s always the potential that an injury could take you out of the game. Many athletes use massage to help them recover, of course, but massage — even after an ordinarily strenuous workout — may be useful. One study even showed that massage therapy after a workout reduced related swelling.9 This could mean that massage will get you back up and running after pushing your body to its limit.
Massage In Review
It’s important to note that even at its best, massage is a complementary procedure. So it’s not meant to replace medication or a doctor’s advice. And though there may be other potential uses for a good massage, the strongest scientific evidence suggests massage can help you deal with pain and/or stress.
That said, massage is more than a way to pamper yourself, just make sure the massage technique you choose matches your needs. You may be able to significantly improve your quality of life, while simply relaxing. And that is an arrangement anyone can enjoy.