Massage therapy is used to promote general health and well-being, and improve function within the body. Many of us gym rats are no strangers to massage therapy— it not only feels good, it also boasts a lengthy list of health benefits.
Here are 9 reasons why you should get a massage!
Eases muscle pain. Massage increases the level of endorphins in your body, which are the body’s natural painkillers. In addition, a study investigated whether massage reduced muscle soreness by decreasing inflammation. Before and after test subjects exercised to exhaustion on stationary bicycle, biopsies were taken from both legs. The researchers found that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory related molecules in the muscle cells.
Researchers were surprised to find that massage also promoted the production of new mitochondria— energy-producing organelles found in the cell. This increase means that massage may also have a positive influence on muscular endurance. Having more mitochondria increases the rate that muscles can produce energy, supporting greater stamina.
Improves brain function. By increasing brain wave activity, massage can improve brain activity.
Reduces swelling. Massages have been shown to increase lymphatic drainage and blood flow. A study measured arterial stiffness in 10 healthy, young subjects before and after massage of the entire body. It was found that massage made the blood vessels significantly less stiff.
Reduces anxiety and stress. Massage is beneficial to calming nerves, and many find massage a great way to relax. Massage is found to decrease the hormone cortisol in the body, which is caused by stress.
In fact, there are several studies that have measured the influence of massage on cortisol levels. On average, massages decreased cortisol levels by 31 percent. A reduction of cortisol supports greater muscle growth and strength. Evidence also suggested that massage has a calming effect, and may help improve concentration and ease steady nerves
Helps recovery from injury. By increasing oxygen, massage can help rid the body of dead cells and other waste.
Prevents Injury. Massage is a tool used by athletes to help prevent injury. It has been shown that massage helps to increase range of motion and also flexibility, resulting in fewer injuries.
Improves sleep. Massage improves relaxation, thus promoting sleep.
Relieves headaches. Massage has been shown to decrease the severity and frequency of headaches. Tension headaches can also be relieved by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones, close to your ears. Use your fingertips to gently massage and rub the temples.
Prevents illness. Massage can boost immunity by increasing white blood cells.
Prisk, Victor. “Massage Therapy and Your Health.” FitnessRx for Men Nov. 2012: 114-115. Print
Rudolph, Michael. “Enhance Recovery and Performance with Massage.” FitnessRx for Men Nov. 2013: 88-89. Print.