The very word ‘massage’ is synonymous with relaxation. If you’ve ever had a professional massage, you know the truth of it: massage can help you to relax, dissolving tension, worry, and anxiety.
In fact, massage does a lot more than make you feel good. Those feelings of wellbeing are associated with very real, very positive health benefits. By helping you to feel better, massage can also help you to be better.
How Often to Get A Massage?
As you go through your day-to-day life, your muscles are taking on strain and tension. You may have a job that requires a lot of physical activity—lifting boxes, carrying children—or you may have an office job that requires you to sit in one place for hours at a time.
Different jobs put very different demands on your muscles, but one way or another you will accumulate tension. That’s precisely why a massage feels so good: it can help you to relax and ease that tension.
What all of this means is that how often you should get a massage is going to depend, to a considerable extent, on your lifestyle and your preferences. With that said, getting a massage once or twice a month is likely to be enough to make a positive difference for many people. On the other hand, you may find you prefer to get a massage every week to two weeks.
With this in mind, let’s look at some of the most common and important benefits of massage.
Massage for Relaxation
One of the most wonderfully obvious things about massage is that it’s relaxing. Even if you’re lucky enough to be in perfect health, massage can work wonders for you by calming your central nervous system.
This effect actually has a name: it’s called the relaxation response, and it is something your central nervous system does automatically when you’re getting a massage. Your body’s relaxation response produces a number of positive, enjoyable effects: it slows your heart rate and breathing, which in turn reduces your blood pressure and the production of stress hormones.
There’s even some evidence that if you get a massage, it may lead to higher levels of serotonin, which is a hormone your body produces that leads to positive, happy feelings.
As your muscle tissues relax, you may find that any painful contractions or spasms you have been experiencing go away. This is a physical effect that the gentle pressure of a massage has on your muscle tissue.
If you have any nerve compression, your muscles relaxing may also help to deal with that. This is because an important cause of nerve compression is muscle contraction. If you are having painful nerve compression, a good massage may be precisely what you need.
Massage for Improved Posture
Many people develop poor posture from spending hours hunched over a desk, or sitting with hunched shoulders in a car. Sitting with a less-than-optimal posture for extended periods of time can lead to persistent discomfort and pain.
Walking around with poor posture generally doesn’t feel good, as anyone who has ever suffered from it can attest. This is fundamentally because when you have poor posture, some muscles and ligaments must work extra hard to support your head, neck, and body. On the other hand, other muscles and ligaments are likely to not work hard enough, and this will tend to reinforce the bad posture.
If you have poor posture, you may find some of your joints becoming stiff and compressed, making it harder and more painful to move. Pain and even headache are other symptoms you may develop as a consequence of poor posture.
The good news is that not only can massage help to relax your muscles, it can also help them to rebalance. Poor posture is fixable, and massage is one of the best ways to help fix it.
By relaxing your muscles, improving your circulation, and reducing the pressure on your nerves, massage effectively returns your muscles to a state in which they are loose and free enough to reposition themselves.
One way to think of this is that massage effectively coaxes your muscles out of their bad posture, teaching them to start ‘unlearning’ the poor posture. With your muscles relaxed and your joints freer, you will feel much better about attempting good posture, and your muscles will be much more able to work with you.
As you work to improve your posture, regular massage can also help you to keep your muscles relaxed and favorable to posture correction.
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Massage to Improve Sleep
If you suffer from a lack of sleep, you’re not alone: 50 to 70 million American have sleep issues of one kind or another. Many of us get cranky if we don’t get enough sleep, but other effects include declines in work performance, slower reaction times, weight gain, and greater tendencies to abuse substances as well as greater risk of long-term disease.
Chronic insomnia, a persistent condition of being unable to get adequate sleep, can cause severe problems with fatigue and concentration, and can also negatively affect mood and well-being.
If you have insomnia, your doctor will probably recommend better nutrition and exercise, but massage can also be an incredibly beneficial therapy. As we’ve seen, massage relaxes your muscles and reduces stress. Massage has also been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep, helping people with insomnia to get a good night’s rest.
In fact, massage can help you to spend more time in the state of deep sleep, which is important because this state is highly restorative and reduces the neurotransmitter associated with pain.
Massage also appears to boost serotonin levels, as we discussed above, and this is very beneficial for sleep because serotonin is one of the chemicals your body needs to make melatonin, which helps you to sleep properly.
Massage may be one of the few pleasures of life that can not only help you to feel better, but also to be better. As we’ve seen here, massage has important health benefits which can greatly improve your wellbeing and help you to enjoy a life free of pain, stress, and poor sleep.
Here at About Touch, we use the power of massage to help you experience a better and healthier state of being. If you’d like to learn more about our services or book an appointment, we’d be delighted to hear from you.