These days more and more people are recognizing the health benefits of massage. In fact, according to a 2007 American Massage Therapy Association survey, “almost a quarter of all adult Americans had at least one massage in the previous year.” People are now seeing that massage is not just for rest and relaxation, but is also used to gain relief from certain symptoms, heal injuries, or to help with specific health conditions. People these days are constantly looking for overall wellness, and are discovering that massage is one of the best sources for achieving that goal.
Benefits of massage go above and beyond relaxation to actually improve or even eliminate health problems. One of the main ailments that massage is used for is back pain. Sometimes painkillers are just not enough. A study conducted in 2003 showed that “massage worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification – reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.” More than one study has shown that headaches also respond to massage therapy. For many people, massage has been proven to reduce the number of migraines suffered and improve sleep.
Massage has also been very effective in improving the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Swedish massage has been proven to be the most effective for knee osteoarthritis. In the first clinical trial on testing the effectiveness of Swedish massage, those participants who received a one-hour massage one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness and function.
Massage has even been used as a supplement to modern medicine for people suffering from cancer. It can promote relaxation and reduce the symptoms of cancer, as well as the side effects of treatment including nausea, fatigue, and depression along with pain and swelling. A massage can improve the function of the immune system, making it the ideal complement to certain treatments for people with cancer.
Not only can massage reduce physical pain within the body, but it has also been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. This has been proven in a review of more than 12 studies. The studies showed that massage actually “lowered levels of cortisol by up to 50%,” while increasing levels of neurotransmitters that assist in reducing depression.
Massage is one of the ways to reduce stress and relax the body in order to prevent high blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. This is especially true for those in high-demand jobs. According to Pilch and Menard, “having a sense of control or autonomy for men and social support for women can help protect against the negative impacts of stress.” There are also an increasing number of employers who are providing their employees with on-site chair massages.
There have been quite a few studies done that have shown that massage can reduce both stress and heart rate. These studies have shown that after receiving a message, there has been a significant increase in the parasympathetic nervous system of the test subject. This system, also simply called PNS, counteracts any stress response produced by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in order to allow the body to come back into balance.
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