As the benefits of massage become more well known, massage and bodywork is becoming more and more mainstream in our culture. The days of having to go to a fancy spa to seek massage therapy are over. So what exactly are the benefits of massage?
The power of bodywork is undeniable. Whether you seek massage for therapy, relaxation, rejuvenation, stress relief, pain management or simply a luxurious treat, massage therapy can be a powerful piece of your fitness regimen.
We live in a world where upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. As a result, we are aging faster inside and out due to high stress. Although anxiety and pressure in our fast paced lives can never be completely elimintated, massage can help manage stress and much more.
Discover the benefits of massage and learn how to find a modality to suit your needs.
- Stress Relief: Stress relief is one of the first benefits that comes to mind when thinking about massage. Research has shown massage to lower heart rate and blood pressure, relax muscles and increase the production of endorphins, your body’s natural “feel good” chemical. Other hormones released through massage include serotonin and dopamine resulting in a feeling of calm relaxation, making stressful situations easier to deal with. When we relieve stress, we also lower cortisol levels (stress hormones) along with insulin levels allowing weight loss to happen. Finally, when we go for massage, we’re taking time for ourselves, to care for our bodies and minds, to take a time out from our hectic lives. This leads to a state of calm relaxation.
- Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion (ROM): Muscle injuries are more common today than they were 50 years ago due to our sedentary lifestyles. Even in active communities, we end up sitting a lot more than we used to 50 years ago. Along with a more sedentary lifestyle comes tighter muscles and joints, and a smaller ROM for our hips, shoulders, knees and ankles leaving many of us in pain, keeping us from being more active. This vicious cycle can be slowed down with massage. How? Massage therapists work on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Regular massage brings increased circulation which can help improve your flexibility and ROM, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone. Muscles move bones, as the muscles relax and loosen up, so do our joints. As our pain decreases, and ROM increases, we are able to adopt a more active lifestyle.
- Improving Circulation:When we receive massage, the therapist helps to move our blood along it’s pathways in a more efficient manner. Improved circulation can help to lower blood pressure, increase immunity, increase libido (yes your sex drive can be affected), and improve bodily functions. Increased circulation means greater blood flow to all of your cells increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients they receive while effectively removing toxins. This is the reason therapists encourage clients to drink plenty of water following massage. When our hearts are more efficient, we feel better and can accomplish more, often inspiring us to take part in a fitness regimen. Professional and recreational athletes notice improved performance with regular visits to their massage therapists.
- Relaxes Muscles: In our fast paced, stress filled worlds, the body reacts by tightening muscles. This stress reaction in addition to all of our daily activities, causes our muscles to contract and often, causes discomfort and pain. There are varying modalities of massage, focusing on different goals for the body. Massage therapists methodically work your muscles and attachments to help loosen the muscles and allow for easier movement and pain relief. Our muscles “learn” how to be in our bodies. Regular massage can “re-train” your brain to hold your muscles differently as they are relaxed and taught to hold bones in proper alignment. When our muscles are relaxed, it’s much easier for us to relax.
- Strengthens Your Immune System: When we experience high levels of stress, we tend to get sick more often. Add in lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our immune systems become low functioning, lowering our abilities to fight of bacteria, infection, and disease. Studies show regular massage to naturally increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the ability of the body to fight off infection and disease) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall.
- Encourages Deeper and Easier Breathing: Stress and tight muscles wreak havoc on our bodies. One of the results of these chronic conditions is restricted breathing. With tight chest, shoulder and upper back muscles, the lungs don’t have the capacity to expand fully, robbing us of the ability to breathe deeply and easily. Massage teaches us how to slow down, and breathe easier. As our muscles are relieved of tightness, and we slow down our thought patterns, and go-go-go mentality, our breath is able to flow. Deep breathing enables us to think properly, allowing us to deal with the stresses of daily living along with improved fitness performance. As we bring awareness to our muscles and our breathing patterns by slowing down, and manipulating fascia, we encourage our bodies to breathe deeply and easily.
- Pre-hab and Re-hab: Going for regular massage allows us to reduce stress, improve flexibility and ROM, improve circulation, relax muscles, strengthen our immune system, and breathe easily and deeply. All of these benefits help us to keep our bodies healthy. This is the prehab part. Pre-hab is a buzz word in the fitness industry that refers to remaining healthy while avoiding injury and illness. Of course this is our first choice. Although we often begin to take care of ourselves once our health and fitness have declined, wouldn’t it be wonderful to keep our bodies in good health and not go there. If we have the misfortune of injuring ourselves or dealing with major illness, massage can be a key piece of our rehab and recovery. Studies show that those who receive regular massage as part of their healing therapies, heal more quickly than those who do not.
Benefits of Massage: What Kind of Massage Should I Get?
Understanding the benefits of massage will help you find the right therapist and modality to fit your needs. It’s important to have a handle on why you want to go for massage, in other words, what is your goal?
Types of Massage
- Swedish Massage: this is a great way to get your blood flowing, enjoy the healing power of touch, and introduce yourself to the benefits of massage. Swedish massage is the most common form of massage in the West, and is often an introductory modality. This type of massage can be slow and gentle or vigorous and bracing depending on your needs and your therapist’s style. If you’ve never had massage before, this can be a great place to begin. If you’re looking for pain relief and deeper work, the benefits of massage in other forms will be better suited for your need.
- Deep Tissue Massage: another form of Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue focuses on the deeper muscle structure and fascia or connective tissue. Deep tissue is a more focused, intense massage that works to relieve chronicly tight muscle tissue and fascia, and allows the therapist to focus on specific areas in need of attention. Although a more focused and intense style of massage, deep tissue work should not be painful or leave you with bruises. You will know your muscles have been worked, and this type of massage will leave you coming back for more of the same muscle relief.
- Sports Massage is geared toward athletes of all kinds, from elite professional athletes to weekend warriors. Sports massage focuses on muscles that are often overused often times in an aggressive manner. With this modality, the therapist focuses not only on the muscles themselves, but on the muscle-tendon junction as well, relieving pain and discomfort while offering a greater ROM. Sports massage can enhance athletic performance pre and post event, while offering injury prevention.
- Foot Reflexology uses pressure points on the feet to affect all areas of the body. Although reflexology is not used to diagnose ailments, it is believed that the points on the feet correspond to body organs and systems. Pressuring these points is believed to positively affect the organs and systems associated with them offering many benefits of massage done in this modality. More than a foot massage, reflexology can help to balance your body systems and relieve discomfort and pain throughout the body.
Benefits of Massage
Now that you’ve discovered some of the many benefits of massage along with some modalities, it’s time to go out and find yourself a therapist. Be discerning with your body and your dollars. Ask your therapist questions about their experience, certification, and modalities. Make sure you are as comfortable as possible with your therapist realizing it can take time to find just the right person.
Here at Fusion Fitness, we are pleased to introduce David Lewis, a certified massage therapist who has practiced massage for over 12 years. He is now scheduling appointments here at the studio for your convenience. Round out your fitness experience with a massage. You deserve it. Choose from Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage or Reflexology. Schedule an appointment today by calling the studio at 802-422-5444, or contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not in the area, seek referrals from friends, family and co-workers. It may take some time, but rest assured you will find the right therapist for you.
Enjoying the benefits of massage starts with making an appointment. Why not call today? 802-422-5444