If you've ever had a massage, you know it is pleasant and relaxing. You may not have realized it can also have physical and emotional benefits if it is done regularly. There are several types of massage, from deep-tissue therapies to gentle Swedish treatments. They don't replace medical treatment, but they can benefit your body and mind if you have them done on an ongoing basis.
Regular massages help with pain management. The therapist can concentrate on stiff muscles and specific problem areas, loosening them and increasing blood circulation. This temporarily relieves pain from sports injuries, arthritis and other conditions. You may not need as much pain medication if you get massages regularly.
Immune System Support
Many studies have shown regular massages support immune system function and decrease stress-related hormones that can lower immunity. For example, New Jersey researchers found college students who were stressed about an upcoming exam had better immune system function and less anxiety when they received a massage.
Studies at the Touch Research Institutes in Miami showed that massage relieves fibromyalgia-related pain. The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology reports massage therapy lowered stress hormones, anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia sufferers and worked more quickly than transcutaneous electrical stimulation.
Regular massages are an effective stress- management technique. Stress is often caused by being over-committed and overwhelmed with home, work and family obligations. A weekly or bi-weekly massage forces you to take time out for yourself for a pleasurable, relaxing activity.
Management of Emotional Disorders
Massage therapy can help you to manage emotional disorders such as depression or anxiety as part of an overall treatment plan. Massage is soothing, nurturing and relaxing. It can improve your state of mind if you concentrate on releasing negative thoughts during the treatment. You can incorporate visualization exercises in which you picture yourself in pleasant surroundings during the massage.
Tiffany Field, executive director of the Touch Research Institutes (TRI) in Miami, discovered massage can improve ADHD symptoms in teenagers. Adolescents who received ten or 15 minute massages for 10 consecutive days all showed positive changes. They felt happier and their teachers reported better behavior. Other TRI studies have shown that youngsters with ADHD benefit from twice-monthly massage therapy.
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."