In the not too distant past, massage therapy was considered a splurge; something experienced only if you had pockets full of money or received a spa gift certificate. This wasn’t always the case, though. For centuries, massage therapy, renowned for its health benefits, was a part of standard medical treatments. It was regularly incorporated in a person’s health care regimen. Nearly every person – young and old, male and female – experienced the benefits of massage.
If you research therapies of ancient cultures – from Chinese and Indian to Roman and Greek – you will find that massage therapy was used frequently. It was even used extensively in the United States. In fact, the book “Back to Eden” by Jethro Kloss, first published in 1939, discussed in detail the benefits of massage for general good health and in the treatment of illness. This book also outlined various massage therapy techniques and how to perform those techniques in the home.
Ancient cultures, and even our American ancestors, recognized the importance of massage in holistic medical treatment. The power and energy of the human touch, as well as the relaxing effects of physically manipulating muscles to reduce tension, produced phenomenal results.
With all of the astounding results of massage, why was its importance lessened to something of a luxury instead of a regular health treatment? The benefits of massage didn’t change; only society’s perception of what’s important in health care and what isn’t. Fortunately, more people are realizing that regular massage therapy is beneficial, whether from experiencing the benefits themselves or from doing research.
Why Massage Therapy Is Beneficial
As was mentioned, a lot has to do with the power of the human touch, the energy passing from therapist to client. In addition, manipulation of the tissues of the body encourages relaxation and better flow of lymph, blood, and energy through the body’s meridians. Better flow of energy and lymph, as well as better circulation of the blood, all contribute to better overall health. Here are some areas where massage therapy is beneficial:
Improves flexibility and range of motion
Because of the sedentary nature of modern society, our muscles aren’t as flexible as they were in the past. This has resulted in an increase of muscle injury. A massage therapist will assist the muscles in releasing tension and lengthen the muscles again. Flexibility is important in reducing occurrence of injury to not only the muscles, but the joints and ligaments, too. If you’re looking to improve your flexibility, whether to improve your abilities in playing sports or exercising, or just in the overall health of your muscles, you will find that massage therapy is beneficial to helping you achieve this.
Massage therapy promotes the proper flow of lymphatic fluid and blood. If these fluids, or our chi (life) energy, are stagnant the result is disease. Massage therapy has been proven to reduce T-cells and increases disease fighting cells, all of which increases the body’s ability to fight infection. Massage therapy can assist in reducing toxins in the body, usually from stagnant lymph or chemicals from food or pollution. Removing these toxins will help the body’s cells focus on fighting off pathogens instead of being bombarded with toxins.
Massage is relaxing! Stress taxes the body. Too much stress results in lowered immune function, higher likelihood of anxiety and depression, and weight gain. When the body experiences a reduction in stress, the stress hormones aren’t released. These hormones can contribute to feelings of anxiety and weight gain in the abdominal area, and it is nearly impossible to lose weight if you’re experiencing too much stress. When the body is experiencing rest and relaxation, instead of stress and anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate will lower as well contributing to heart health.
Improves posture and breathing
When you first read this you may think improving posture isn’t a huge deal. It really is, though. In our modern society, we are constantly positioning our body in ways nature didn’t intend, at least not for long periods of time. Daily life, for most people, is spent sitting in front of the computer or TV. Sitting for long periods, especially when looking down at a smart phone or tablet, wrecks havoc on the spine and muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back. When these muscles aren’t happy, there really isn’t any part of your body that is happy. Pain in these areas is miserable and adversely affects other parts of the body, including the hips, legs, and arms.
Massage therapy can help. The therapist massages the neck, shoulder, and back muscles, releasing tension. Muscles will no longer be in a contracted state. After a massage you will probably notice you stand taller and straighter. Releasing the tension of the muscles will reduce the likelihood that you will experience the chronic headaches and sore shoulders so common in today’s society.
You will also find that once your posture improves you’ll be able to breathe more deeply. The muscles in your chest, shoulders, and neck won’t be pulling you forward any longer which constricts your breathing. Massage therapy is beneficial for standing tall and breathing comfortably.
These areas in which massage therapy is beneficial are just a drop in the bucket. Here are some other ways massage therapy is beneficial, as discussed further on WebMD:
- Effective in post-operative rehabilitation
- Aids in the healing of injuries
- Helps with chronic pain (fibromyalgia, endometriosis, arthritis)
- Can help with sleep disorders
- Many more!
Just about every area of your life can be improved with massage therapy. The benefits are so well known that Western doctors and alternative practitioners highly recommend massage therapy to their patients. Insurance companies are beginning to offer massage therapy coverage. More companies, even small businesses, offer massage therapy as a benefit to their employees. Yes, massage therapy is extremely beneficial and the evidence is in how it is once again becoming a staple of holistic healthcare. Schedule your massage therapy appointment today and see how this wonderful ancient healing art will benefit you!