It is a great time to get a massage. As research is finding more and more evidence of therapeutic benefits from massage, the public is viewing massage not only as service of pampering or occasional luxury, but as a complimentary form of therapy and preventative care. Massage is more accessible today than it was in the previous few decades with massage franchises and private business popping up in communities’ across the nation; and it is not uncommon for health care facilities to offer massage as part of their services. With such growing prevalence, the cost of getting massage has also become more affordable due to the increase availability. A script from a primary care physician is not necessary, therefore clients do not have to wait for approval from their insurance, nor are they limited to a certain number of visits to receive massage therapy. Many people do not realize how essential massage is to their health until they receive one. In addition, massage is non-invasive and has no lasting side effects or complications unlike the standard protocol for pain management which can consist of prescribed medicines and surgery.
Relaxation is an obvious outcome of massage, but there are many other benefits. Massage therapy not only impacts our health on a physical level, but it can affect our mental and emotional state. In 20 to 60 minutes of massage, people can experience a reduction in muscular tension, blood pressure, headache and eyestrain, as well as less spasm, pain, and swelling. It has been known to increase flexibility and range of motion, improve posture, and allow deeper and easier breathing. Lymph and blood circulation improve, which in turn strengthens the immune system by creating a more even distribution of white blood cells, preventing disease, and reducing inflammatory responses in the body. This increase in circulation also helps keep the skin healthy.
Massage clients may also note how massage affects them on a mental level, including reduced mental stress, allowing the mind to be calm and focus on the present. This is becoming harder to do today with our current 24/7 demanding lifestyle. Massage helps to counter this constant stimulation of the central nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is often referred to as the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system. It is responsible for slowing down heart rate, increasing digestive and glandular activity, and releasing insulin among other autonomic functions. Its counterpart is the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” syndrome, allowing the body to function under stress. However, when the body is continuously under sympathetic stimulation, it will eventually cause the body to break down, because we are not meant to maintain a constant state of stress. Massage will help to remember what it means to feel relaxed.
Massage improves our emotional well-being through a caring touch. While receiving body work, anxiety will dissipate along with any physical tension that is being released, allowing for a greater awareness of the client’s mind-body connection. It can also help improve our moods. Emotional stress breaks down the immune system on the cellular level, provoking inflammatory responses due to increase levels of stress hormones.
When taking into account all the benefits from receiving massage, it becomes apparent that there is much more to massage than luxury and pampering. As education and prevalence of massage continues to grow, more people are embracing the benefits it brings and incorporating it into their health care routine. When it comes to health, massage can be a great tool of empowerment for the client who experiences chronic pain or tension.
**To schedule a massage appointment with our licensed massage therapists, Fara Maniaci or Jarred Schaufel, please contact Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists at 815.756.8524. Northern Rehab has four locations in DeKalb, Rochelle, and Genoa and offers massage therapy at two DeKalb and Genoa locations. For more information, please visit www.northernrehabpt.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +.