Benefits of Massage
• Massage can help boost the immune system by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. When a person becomes stressed, the body produces cortisol. In low levels, it has positive effects on the mind and body (such as a sudden boost in the immune system, a burst of energy, and a decrease in pain sensitivity) so we can deal with the stress. However, when stress is prolonged, cortisol levels increase and this causes negative effects, like lowering immunity. A low immunity leads to many health problems.
• Massage can help relieve pain by reducing substance P, a neuropeptide that transmits information to the spinal cord, causing pain. In one study at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, individuals with fibromyalgia reported less pain and had decreased amounts of substance P in their saliva after one month of massages (two times a week). Massage also encourages the release of endorphins. Endorphins, chemicals in the brain, are “natural painkillers” because they have analgesic properties that relieve pain.
• Massage can help reduce high blood pressure. In one study at the University of South Florida, some individuals with hypertension were given a 10 minute massage while others were not (they were just relaxing within the same environment). After three weeks (total of 10 massages), those who received the massages had significant improvements in blood pressure compared to those who did not.
Other benefits of a good massage include:
- increasing blood circulation
- increasing lymph flow
- improving range-of-motion
- improving self-esteem.
Good Massage Tips
The following massage tips apply to giving yourself a massage or giving someone else a massage:
• Warm your hands before the massage.
• If you plan on using a lotion or an essential oil, warm it beforehand. Don’t use too much. If using an oil for the first time, test a small area to see if an allergic reaction occurs.
• A slow massage relaxes the body. A fast massage is more invigorating and revitalizes the body.
• Always use gentle strokes when beginning and ending massages.
• Use light pressure over bony areas and firm pressure over muscles.
• When massaging another, use your body (lean into long strokes) and not just your hands and arms.
• Massages should feel good. Avoid applying too much pressure that causes pain.
To get the best benefits of massage, take a course. Many areas offer community classes. They can teach you proper techniques and offer more valuable tips for a good massage.
Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.