7 Reasons Massage Therapy for Stress Relief is a Must

Why Massage Therapy for Stress Relief is not just a nice to have

It is quite common these days to hear people say that their current lifestyle is unhealthy due to the different types and degrees of stress they experience, at work and in other aspects of their life. But many people tend to forget one effective stress-busting technique: massage therapy

People tend to turn to eating junk food, smoking or drinking alcohol to relieve stress but rather than help, they tend to compound the health problems they already have.

Don’t neglect a good massage

Neglecting to include massage in your arsenal of stress relieving techniques is a huge mistake. For an hour or so on the massage table or chair, you will forget all your worries and feel the tension melt away.

A lot of people consider massage as a luxury and not a necessity. However, there are several compelling reasons why should change this kind of mindset…..

Benefits of Massage Therapy

We take a look at the benefits of making a massage a regular part of your life to help relieve stress…

1. It activates the body’s relaxation response

The body’s relaxation response is your ability to enable your body to release chemicals and brain signals to make your muscles and organs slow down and at the same time, increase blood flow to the brain.

This response is the opposite of the fight or flight response that the body exhibits when you are experiencing uncomfortable physiological changes like muscle pain, headaches, or a racing heartbeat.

During this fight or flight response, stress hormones are secreted. When this happens often, these hormones can contribute to various stress-related medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, adrenal fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues.

Stimulate your relaxation response

The relaxation response can effectively turn off the fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. As a result, your body will deal with the health issue and stress in a safer, healthier way.

Studies also show that this response can help health problems caused or aggravated by chronic stress including hypertension, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and gastrointestinal disorders.

The relaxation response can be stimulated by a relaxation technique such as guided imagery, tai chi, and massage. Massage activates and enhances this response because when you undergo this therapy, your heartbeat and breathing rate slow down and your muscles relax.

Because massage therapy helps your body deal with and manage stress better, it is a must to include this in your regular stress-relief routine.

2. It helps lower blood pressure

When you are in a stressful situation, your blood pressure increases temporarily. Once the stressor disappears, your blood pressure returns to normal.

However, frequent temporary spikes in your blood pressure caused by stress are harmful to your body. They can damage your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.

If you deal with stress by eating junk food, smoking, and drinking alcohol, you also increase your risk of chronic high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

Massaging stimulates receptors that send messages of relaxation

Massage therapy stimulates receptors that send messages of relaxation to the central nervous system. This initiates vasodilation or the widening of the blood vessels which results in decreased blood pressure and heart rate.

If you want to avoid the negative effects of high blood pressure, you should schedule regular massage sessions, and not only when you feel like pampering yourself.

However, if you are already hypertensive, you need to consult your doctor first before getting massage regularly. This is because the massage should be customised to your condition.

Swedish massage therapy and reflexology are generally safe and good options.

3. It improves sleep quality

Feeling high levels of stress can cause you to have troubles getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeplessness and poor quality of sleep can lead to various medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety.

Lack of sleep will also cause you to be inattentive and unable to focus on your work and other activities.

Massage therapy helps give you longer and better quality of sleep through these ways:

  • Relaxes muscles

Your muscles get stressed and are often contracted in unusual ways on a daily basis. Massage therapy helps to relax these muscles which, in turn, will allow you to relax and sleep better.

  • Helps with the production and release of serotonin

Serotonin is a hormone that helps you relax and induces sleep. When serotonin is released, it also helps reduce cortisol or the stress hormones. These actions trigger the proper chemistry of the brain and muscles positively and as a result, your body leans towards getting a good night’s sleep.

The brain also uses serotonin to produce melatonin – a hormone that instructs the brain to slow down and to prepare for sleep.

  • Increases the brain’s delta waves

According to several studies, massage boosts the brain’s delta waves or the brain waves that appear in the heaviest concentration during the deepest stage of sleep.

To always have a good night’s sleep, function properly every day, and avoid health issues caused by sleep deprivation, include massage therapy in your wellness routine.

4. It boosts one’s mood

Serotonin also helps you feel happier and uplifts your mood. After a massage, you will feel better and cheerful since your serotonin levels will be higher. Studies also show that people who receive regular massage experience a subsequent drop in depression and pain.

During a massage, the body also releases natural endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and boost pleasure and, as such, after a session, you will experience a feeling of well-being and improvement in your mood.

If you’ve been feeling down lately, get a massage. And to always have a cheerier, positive disposition, schedule a regular massage every week.

5. It reduces muscle tension

Muscle tension happens when one more or muscles in the body remain contracted for a long period of time. Although muscle tension may seem harmless enough, it can actually cause various adverse symptoms and side effects including:

  • Heart disease
  • Back pain
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Digestive problems including indigestion and constipation

You can relieve muscle tension by taking in medication and using ointments. However, depending on synthetic pills is unhealthy and will cause some side effects.

The other safer and effective option is massage therapy. The massage therapist will manipulate your muscles to soothe them and release any built-up tension within.

A single session will allow you to experience improvement in your muscle tension. If you regularly get a massage, you will feel a greater level of relief and other health benefits.

To avoid discomfort and other conditions that muscle tension brings, get a massage regularly.

6. It lowers the stress that comes with chronic pain and injury

When you have a headache, pain in your neck or back, you will also be anxious, especially when your medication takes a while to take effect. In this instance, your body will release cortisol which will further increase the pain you are feeling, leaving you feeling even more stressed out.

A massage will increase both muscle and mental relaxation. This type of therapy provides relief to chronic headaches, back, neck, and other muscular pain. At the same time, a massage will also try to flush the cortisol out of your body to reduce stress levels and decrease pain.

If you also have an injury, your stress can double if you are unable to return to exercise and sports due to the pain or limited range of motion. Massage therapy helps to improve muscle flexibility and range of motion.

Serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins

During the massage, the feel-good hormones (serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins) in your body will also increase. These hormones improve your sense of well-being and help you have a more positive frame of mind and happy mood, and reduce your stress.

When your stress levels are reduced, your healing time shortens. This will allow you to return to your sport, workout regime, and regular activities faster. Going back to your regular activities will help you reduce stress further.

If chronic pain and a past injury are causing you stress and even preventing you from enjoying a good quality of life, ask your doctor if you can include massage therapy in your treatment program.

7. It increases energy levels

Lastly, when you are regularly bombarded by stress, you will suffer from fatigue. You will always feel too tired to do anything. You will be unable to concentrate on your tasks, have difficulties making decisions, lack motivation and even feel moody.

Stress-related fatigue can also cause headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, and difficulties with short-term memory.

Massage can give you the energy you need to combat stress and fatigue by improving blood circulation. With better blood circulation, oxygen is delivered to all the body’s cells. This activity will boost your energy levels.

Boosts your lymphatic system

Massage therapy also boosts your lymphatic system which enables your body to detoxify more effectively. Coupled with improved blood circulation, you can get rid of that sluggish, tired feeling. This is one of the main reasons why you feel refreshed and energetic after a massage.

When your sleep pattern and mood are improved, and you are free from chronic pain and muscle tension, which you can all experience from regular massage, your energy levels will increase more dramatically.

Let Us Know

With all the health benefits massage therapy offers in terms of stress relief, it would be a shame to miss experiencing them simply because you consider massages a luxury.

Change your mindset now and include massage in your wellness routine to start living a healthier, better quality life.

Do you use massage therapy as a form of stress relief? If so we’d love to hear your experiences with it in the comments below.

Or please let us know if you have any other fantastic ways for relieving stress to share with our other readers….

Marc Innes

Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the School of Natural Therapies a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. He spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time, he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing and EFT, which culminated in running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry.

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