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The benefits of massage therapy may include improved attention, reduced anxiety, and better sleep.
There are a few things that we all connect with relaxation: spa days, cuddling up by the fire, staying in bed until two in the afternoon, and, of course, getting a massage. Additionally, while massage is a fantastic way to unwind, it also offers additional therapeutic advantages.
The word “massage” itself actually refers to a variety of distinct massage techniques, from best massage in Hawaii (the most popular type) to massages with more specialised goals, such a sports massage intended to aid in the recovery of athletes.
No of the kind, pressure is the key to all of massage’s advantages. “The nervous system is calmed and slowed during a moderate pressure massage,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, head of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. According to Field, this slowdown of the nervous system also has other physiological impacts, such as changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and EEG patterns (the electrical activity in the brain).
Furthermore, it takes less time than you might anticipate to get such results. Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, chief of psychiatric services at Emory Healthcare, who has directed numerous studies examining the effects of massage, says “For study, we’re able to establish favourable results for massages that are only 20 minutes long.” The majority of massages, according to Dr. Rapaport, are typically promoted to last approximately 50 minutes, so when you receive one, you’ll be under pressure for longer than is necessary to get their full advantages.
And what happens if you can’t afford to visit the nearby spa? You don’t always need to visit a massage therapist, adds Field. “You could massage yourself.” She says you may perform a 20-minute self-massage by using a massage brush in the shower or even rubbing a tennis ball on your limbs because we can access most parts of our bodies.
So, if you’re considering scheduling a session or buying a self-massage device, here are six of the therapy’s most important advantages.
According to one study, getting a massage can actually dramatically lessen your symptoms if you suffer from anxiety. According to Dr. Rapaport, the study’s principal investigator, “What we think is going on is it’s decreasing the sympathetic tone that we find with people with generalised anxiety disorder and enhancing this sort of parasympathetic response.”
The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are the two distinct nervous systems in your body. According to Rudy Gehrman, DC, a sports medical chiropractor and the owner of Physio Logic in New York, “your sympathetic is fight or flight.” “If a lion is chasing you, your sympathetic nervous system is engaged.”
However, a massage increases your parasympathetic (or relaxing) response, which reduces anxiety, according to Dr. Rapaport.
And even better news? It’s possible for massage to have long-lasting impacts on anxiety reduction. According to Dr. Rapaport’s informal follow-up, a sizable portion of these patients were still anxiety-free somewhere between six and 18 months later.
Have a hard time falling asleep or have insomnia? You can actually fall asleep deeper if you get a massage. According to Field, the amount of nervous system activity has a direct correlation to how well one sleeps. Additionally, the pressure of a massage actually causes your nervous system to calm down.
Additionally, she claims that obtaining deeper, more restorative sleep lowers your levels of substance P, a pain neurotransmitter, which in turn lessens general pain. Therefore, massage will serve two purposes if you have any aches.
We’ve all been there: You’ve spent the entire night tossing and turning, your workday has been exhausting, and you feel as like you don’t even have five minutes to take a deep breath. According to Dr. Rapaport, some people become tired because they don’t get enough sleep. Because of a few biological reasons, other folks are becoming weary.
But whatever the reason behind your exhaustion, getting a massage is a simple fix. In fact, a Dr. Rapaport-led study from 2018 discovered that breast cancer survivors who received weekly Hawaii massages reported less fatigue, a particularly crippling side effect of the illness. Try getting a massage once a week to experience the optimum results, according to Dr. Rapaport’s research.
According to Field, for your immune system to function at its best, there must be a balance between the two immunological responses that your body produces—Th1 and Th2. You develop autoimmune issues, she explains, if the Th2 system overpowers the Th1 system.
To assist preserve this balance, she claims, stress hormones are slowed down during massage. As a result, things like lessened discomfort or weariness may make autoimmune disorders like asthma, type 1 diabetes, or dermatitis easier to manage.
Have difficulties staying focused for more than ten minutes in a meeting or finishing a book before bed? Your focus and attentiveness will actually improve as a result of a massage.
That’s because your heart rate needs to be decreased in order for you to concentrate the best. “My heart rate is always increased when I’m not paying attention,” adds Field. And I’ll be more focused once my heart rate is lower.
Your heart rate is successfully slowed down during a massage because it causes your nervous system to calm down. According to Field, when you receive a massage, your pressure receptors activate vagal activity, which comes from a brain nerve that travels to various different parts of the body, including the heart.
According to Gehrman, if you have joint pain or an injury, you’ll also have “soft-tissue constraints,” which result in pain knots or trigger points, especially if the issue is long-lasting or persistent. According to him, “massage therapists are removing soft-tissue limitations and boosting circulation.”
By regularly massaging out those soft-tissue constraints, you’re not only addressing your current ailment but also preventing against future problems down the road. These limits can, over time, lead to issues like joint degradation or other ligament difficulties. But choosing a qualified massage therapist with considerable expertise working with injured people is crucial when obtaining a massage for your ailment.