I’ve been talking a lot about self care lately. Why it’s important, what it is, and what ignoring it might do to you. I thought it was time to go back to the basics a bit. So, you may be asking, with all of the options out there for self care, why Massage? Over the last 10 years or so, with the increasing education and awareness of massage, the benefits of massage have been reported over and over again.
I’m sure many of you have your own stories of how regular massage has created well being and balance in your life. Personally, it has had a huge impact on my health. When I began to receive regular massage 9 years ago, I suffered from stomach ulcers, which were stress related. I was on regular prescription medication to control the pain, which sometimes didn’t always help. In addition, I probably had about 4 to 5 colds a year, never fail. Once I started receiving regular massage (once a week), the most noticeable impact on my health was the disappearance of my ulcer pain. This led me to going off my medication; for good. I have not taken a prescription nor over the counter medication for ulcers since then! My level of stress was greatly reduced from the experience of receiving regular massage. I also began a long running time period of overall increased health. The 4 or 5 colds/illnesses per year greatly decreased to one or none a year. Between the two of those changes, I knew this was something I could never give up.
So, you may be saying to yourself, “That’s great for you, but that doesn’t apply to me”. There are many other benefits to regular massage. (Excerpt reprinted by permission from ABMP, Massage & Bodywork) In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive, and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Following is a brief list of the many known, research-based benefits of massage and bodywork:
- Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs
- Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer. Furthermore, increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ — the skin
- Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles
- Reduces spasms and cramping
- Increases joint flexibility
- Reduces recovery time and helps prepare the body for strenuous workouts, reducing subsequent muscle pain of athletes at any level
- Releases endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller — and is proving very beneficial in patients with chronic illness, injury, and post-op pain
- Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred
- Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain
- Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication
- Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion
- Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as reduces the need for medication, eases postpartum depression and anxiety, and contributes to a shorter hospital stay.The benefits of massage are diverse. No matter how great it feels, massage isn’t just a luxury, it’s a health necessity.