The ability of massage to promote relaxation is widely accepted. It has been used for stress reduction and pain relief around the world throughout the ages. As long ago as the 5th century, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote, “the physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in rubbing.”
Research demonstrates benefits
Modern research, such as studies by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, have demonstrated that massage is extraordinary in its ability to reduce the effects of stress and promote well-being. A recent Colorado study conducted on infants diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease showed that massage significantly reduced stress (measured by salivary cortisol levels) and babies in the study receiving massage showed fewer symptoms of their disease.
Massage Improves Our Bodies’ Functioning
Stress is inevitable in our modern world and while it can have the positive effect of improving performance, problems can arise when we experience an overload of stress for too long. Our bodies can lose their ability to work at their best. Therapeutic massage can provide a break from the buildup of stress and trigger the “relaxation response,” a natural function of the nervous system that can reverse the effects of excess stress. This can help ease stress-related conditions such as muscle tension, chronic headaches, digestive problems, and sleep disturbances.
In addition to promoting relaxation, massage directly supports the body in coping with the effects of stress because one of the key benefits of therapeutic massage is improved circulation. Good circulation is essential to bring oxygen and nutrients to aid in healing tissues and removing waste products, both important functions in helping the body cope with stress.
Mind and Body Awareness Increase with Massage
Massage therapy can help increase awareness of sensations and feeling in your body and foster greater understanding of its signals. As you get to know your body with massage you may be better able to listen to your need to take breaks at work or stretch after exercising. Increased awareness may even inspire you to spend more time doing the things you love, like painting, gardening or hiking.
Consider the value of massage when you need a break from the demands of your everyday life. The resulting deep relaxation and release of tension provide a valuable and enjoyable way to promote health and well being.