Ever since humans had the ability to rub a painful spot, massage has been an integral part of long-lasting health. Massage is more than just relaxation and pampering! Although, those are wonderful benefits they are not the exclusive reasons to do your body good and go get a massage.
Massage has no known side effects and studies show the more often you receive one, the greater the benefits:
Besides a good nature walk in Falls Park, massage is a wonderful way to relieve your body of stress. Massage increases serotonin production, easing anxiety and depression. Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been clinically shown in trials to directly suppress immune system functioning and have been directly linked to depression, stress and many diseases including cancer. Take preventative action or compliment traditional medicine with a stress-reducing massage.
Massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms and increased serotonin levels in adults with migraine headaches. Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Dieter, J., Swerdlow. & Diego, M., (1998). Migraine headaches were reduced by massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 1-11.
I often recommend CranioSacral Therapy and lavender essential oil to my clients who suffer from frequent headaches.
With arm and leg stretches, we create space & open up the joints to stimulate synovial fluid production. This fluid provides for more cushion adding a spring to your step and lubrication, reducing that grinding feeling in the rotator cuff. Even if you don't like stretches, gentle movements of the limbs help, too.
Massage shifts the balance from the sympathetic (fight or flight response) to the parasympathetic, which allows us to rest and repair. Often, massage can be so relaxing that clients often fall asleep during their session!
Sports enthusiasts and athletes alike benefit from massage 24 hours before an event or after exercising. Soreness is greatly reduced by increasing blood flow especially to the muscle groups targeted during the workout or sporting event. Increased circulation means faster repair of tissues and easier removal of the body's metabolic wastes (like phosphates, CO2, and nitrogen compounds).
Expectant mothers can appreciate a good pregnancy massage for so many reasons: stabilization of hormone levels, an increase of lympathic circulation reducing fatigue, sedation of the nervous system for much-needed rest and relaxation, and increased blood flow throughout the body, including the placenta. (This short list is referenced from Elaine Stillerman's book Mother Massage).
The combination of proper nutrition and a good massage will increase the blood flow to chronically tight (aka ischemic) muscles, so they get the nutrients they have long been needing.
Massage improves the lymphatic system's circulation, which plays a crucial role in your body's ability to heal from illness and injury. Negative effects of lymph stagnation can include oedema (water retention), frequent colds, and headaches. Periodic detoxing (e.g. two weeks each spring and fall) is highly complimented by massage. ***If your immune system is already taxed or you're taking any prescription medications, it is especially important to consult your doctor before beginning your detox program.***
Sometimes we all just need to stop and take time to surrender to relaxation. Let the mind wander, allow the spirit to flourish and feel all bodily tension melt away.
The Touch Research Institute was established in 1992, and has produced over 100 studies on the positive effects of touch on varying age groups and medical conditions. On their website they give an extensive list from Aggression to Spinal Cord Injuries:
ABMP has a wonderful benefits list: http://www.massagetherapy.com/learnmore/benefits.php.