For Such a Time as This

Therapeutic Massage and Natural Health

Benefits of Massage

Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.
  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.
  • More potential benefits of massage therapy
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

 

 Multiple studies, although often small, have linked massage to better functioning of the immune system.  In one 2010 study, researchers found massage increased a person's disease-fighting white blood cells. The stress-reducing powers of massage can also help keep you healthy.  Headaches can also be alleviated thanks to massage. A regular rubdown can reduce a person's number of migraines, according to WebMD, as well as limit how painful each migraine feels, according to the TRI.

 

A 2009 study found that a 30-minute massage decreased pain for people with tension headaches, and even curbed some of the stress and anger associated with that pounding head.  Beauty benefits. "Massage increases blood flow, which plumps up slack skin, encourages lymphatic drainage (the shuttling of toxins out and away from cells so that more nutrients can travel in) and adds vitality to a dull complexion and lackluster hair."  Massage is particularly helpful for people living with or undergoing treatment for serious illnesses, like cancer. Various studies have shown that massage can relieve fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and nausea in cancer patients.

 

  • As good as a back rub from your sweetie feels, sometimes you need the hands of a professional.
  • That's because a growing body of evidence suggests muscle therapy provides a long and varied list of health benefits. In fact, more people get their muscles kneaded and rubbed for medical purposes than they do for relaxation or pampering, according to a recent survey. You know massage helps reduce stress and tension; here are some more potential benefits, based on research compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association:
  • Relieve chronic low-back pain.
  • Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work and daily activities; if it lasts more than three months, it's considered chronic. One study showed people with long-lasting low-back pain who got a one-hour Swedish or structural massage once a week for 10 weeks felt and functioned significantly better and faster than those who received standard medical care; they also used less over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Other research found massage helps with osteoarthritis of the knee pain, fibromyalgia and nerve pain, among others.
  • Relieve anxiety.
  • A review of studies that measured the stress hormone cortisol in people before and immediately after massage found the therapy lowered levels by up to about 50%. Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that help reduce depression. That may play into why massage has been shown to help people with anxiety disorders, to increase calm before surgery and to decrease stress and depression in cancer patients; in fact, a recent Turkish study found back massages given during chemotherapy significantly reduced anxiety and fatigue.
  • Reduce blood pressure.
  • Women with prehypertension (or slightly elevated blood pressure) who received three 10-minute Swedish massages a week for 10 total sessions lowered their pressure more than patients who relaxed in the same environment but with no massage, according to a small study. Other more recent research on 35 older adults showed therapeutic massage also helped reduce blood pressure, as well as improve stability.
  • Increase immunity.
  • Massage may give the immune system a boost by helping to increase activity levels of natural killer T cells, which fight off viruses and tumors. Past, preliminary science suggested full-body massage enhanced immune function of women with breast cancer; a newer but also early study on premature babies came to a similar conclusion: Those who received massage therapy had more active killer immune cells (and gained weight faster), compared with infants in the control group.

 

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.

Despite its benefits, massage isn't meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you're trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

 

 

 

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
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