Massage therapy isn’t simply about relaxation; it is also about healing the body. Even our ancient ancestors used massage therapy for healing. Today, many healthcare providers recognize massage therapy as preventative and restorative healthcare.
Massage therapy relaxes and improves the mechanical function of the body. Our bodies respond to the physical touch of massage in the relaxation response, which slows heart rate and breathing rate and lowers blood pressure and production of stress hormones. As physiological responses to massage occur, the muscles relax and production of serotonin increases, boosting mood and increasing positive emotions.
Coupled with the relaxation response to massage, the body experiences mechanical response, which can have several health benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Improved circulation, which means oxygen and nutrients are carried more efficiently throughout the body.
- Improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients in turn improves the function of cells in the body.
- Relaxation of the soft tissues, which can release pinched nerves and connective tissues. When nerves are not compressed, they are better able to absorb nutrients and operate more effectively.
- Pain associated with muscle contractions, muscle spasms and nerve compression is reduced.
- When the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the neurological system is improved, the organs in the body function more efficiently.
Massage therapy is known to relieve stress, reduce stiffness and reduce pain, but it is also thought to help control blood pressure, spur infant growth, treat sports-related injuries, boost immunity and even treat cancer.
While massage therapy comes with a number of health benefits, it should not be your sole course of treatment for pain or illness. Consult with your doctor about supplementing existing healthcare treatments with massage therapy.