Massage has many benefits for the body, including increasing circulation, relaxing tense muscles, and giving an overall feeling of well-being. Massage can range from light touching to deep pressure on muscles and tendons. Swedish massage applies gentle strokes and kneading with circular motions, as well as tapping to relax the body and give energy.
Deep massage is typically used to help repair damage to muscles and connective tissue. It uses more forceful strokes. Sports massage is a lighter touch to help prevent injuries. Trigger point massage focuses on specific areas of tightness within the body, to help with relaxation.
Massage is now considered an alternative form of medicine rather than just a luxury spa treatment. Many medical practices use it help patients recover from various conditions. Listed below are some of the health benefits of Massage. It can help:
1. Alleviate back-pain: Massage can help alleviate back pain by allowing the muscles to relax and become less strained. It can also help with increased blood flow to the area, which will help reduce pain. Regular massage can reduce the tension, causing that stiffness and feeling of knots in your back. When muscle become more relaxed, by an increase in blood circulation, pain will be greatly reduced.
2. Improve range of motion: Another benefit of massage, is that when the joints and muscle are stimulated, most people find that their range of motion is improved for a short period of time. Relieving the tension in joints and connecting tissue allows for a wider range of motion. Regular massage can give you a longer period of motion improvement, which can remain for a longer period of time.
3. Shorter labor for pregnant women: Many pregnant women have reported that a good massage right before delivering their babies, speeds their labor and helps make their deliveries go a lot smoother. The increased circulation helps with the rhythm of childbirth and gets the body working better, making delivery a lot quicker and easier.
4. Stimulates lymph fluid flow enhancing the immune system: By stimulating the lymphatic system in the body with regular massage, the body’s immune system is improved. The lymph fluid is the body’s primary defense against bacteria and other unhealthy substances. Massage increases the flow of blood and other bodily fluids like lymph fluid, giving the body more immunity to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Without the lymph fluid moving smoothly, disease and illness would result.
5. Stimulates tight, atrophied muscles: Many older people become less active and more sedentary, causing their muscles to atrophy. This makes it nearly impossible for them to move at all. Sometimes it makes it impossible for them to even walk. Massage can help loosen the tightened muscles and get the blood running more freely through the body. Over time, this can help improve mobility. It is best to start massage therapy before muscles get completely stiff.
6. Helps body recover from strenuous exercise: Massage will help the body relax and recover from strenuous exercise. Muscles sometimes tighten up after heavy exercise. Massage can relax tired muscles, reducing inflammation the way some medications help reduce swelling. However, massage has no negative side effects and it feels great.
7. Improve the condition of the skin: Regular massage will help improve the appearance of your skin. Keeping the blood flowing throughout the body with massage will help reduce wrinkling and give your skin a nice glow. It will help delay the aging process of the skin. Massage stimulates the vascular and gland activity. It helps renew facial cells and correct moisture balance, helping the skin look younger.
The linear strokes and circular movement of the fingers cause thermal stimulation of the skin and mechanical stimulation. Mechanical stimulation can help with stimulation to the stretch receptor in muscles increasing skin tone. Thermal stimulation leads to an increase in oxygen and nutrients and reduces metabolites. Facial massages should be done every three to four weeks to delay aging process.
8. Increases joint flexibility: By reducing stiffness and relaxing muscles massage can increase joint flexibility. When joints are stiff and sore many people avoid movement as much as possible. This makes the situation even worse. By stimulating the joints and muscles, they become a bit more flexible making movement easier.
9. Reduces depression: It us reported that people with depression can feel better with simple massages. They improve a person’s mood. Massage for people with depression can as important as massage for people with sports injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage can reduce the level or cortisol in the body, reducing depression. Cortisol is a stress response, and massage can reduce it by up to 50 percent. Massage can increase serotonin and dopamine which help stabilize moods. Therefore, massage has a positive effect on reducing depression.
10. Relieves anxiety: Massage can help relieve anxiety temporarily, by helping a person relax their stressed muscles and joints. Usually when people are anxious, they stiffen up. Massage can relieve tension and stiffness. It can also lower cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30 percent. When cortisol is lowered, Serotonin and anti-pain substance increases by about the same amount. By doing these two things, your body is helping to reduce pain, anxiety and sadness.
Massage can produce an emotional balance that is vital to overall well-being. It helps people refocus and get clarity of the mind. The mind-body connection is increased. Massage can increase self-confidence. Human contact through touch has a healing effect both physically and mentally.
11. Reduces scar tissue: If you have had an injury or surgical incision, the collagen in your skin will form a scar while healing. Specific types of massage can remodel the scar tissue to make it less pronounced. It will also help the area of the scar to become more mobile and flexible. Without massage, the scar tissue can become stiff and lose its stretchiness. Depending on the area of the body affected, scarring can cause immobility and loss of use of certain body parts. Starting massage therapy as soon as possible will give better results
12. Reduces muscle cramping: Massage can reduce muscle cramping by helping muscles relax. This will reduce pain as well. Muscle cramps are long muscle contractions, that cause sharp pain. An electrolyte imbalance is sometimes the cause of this when the body is overheated. Electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium enter the muscles, causing either contraction of relaxation. By excessive perspiring, the body losses fluid through the skin. Since sweat contains electrolytes, it can cause an electrolyte imbalance, delaying the relaxation of the muscles causing long contractions and therefore cramping,
Massaging the cramping muscle can help increase circulation to the area, bringing fluids back in balance, stopping the cramping. Sometimes in sports massage, reciprocal massage can stop cramping. That is when massaging the opposite muscle that is cramping can relieve the tension on the opposite muscle.
13. Releases endorphins to reduce pain: The body’s natural pain relievers are endorphins. Older people with arthritis usually turn to pain relief medication. By getting regular massages, the body will release more endorphins, allowing people to cut back on conventional medicines they are taking. Massage will help increase blood circulation in the body as well, reducing the pain of arthritis. When pain is reduced, the person feels mentally and physically better.
14. Relieves migraine headaches: The relieving of tension and stress with a head massage, has helped many people recover from migraine headaches. Gently massaging the face and head can many times replace headache medication. It causes the body to produce serotonin, a natural pain reliever. It helps the person relax, relieving tension headaches.
15. Improves quality of sleep: Massage can help you sleep better, because you will have less tension. Massage also triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter than can help you calm down significantly. After a busy day at the office, a massage may be just what you need. If you can relax more, right before going to bed, you will fall asleep quicker and get a deep sleep, allowing you to feel rested and refreshed in the morning.
16. Increases energy: Massage can increase your energy level, by improving your overall circulation. With blood flowing more freely through your body, you will have more energy. Massage has been known to reduce fatigue and help us sleep better, making us feel better. It increases circulation, reduces stress and pain, and re-energizes the body.
Many people in sports use a variety of massage techniques to aid in the recovery of tired muscles. This is done to improve and fortify performance, or prevent the delayed onset of soreness from overworked muscles. Muscles need increased circulation, to get rid of lactic acid and to bring more oxygen rich blood to revitalize them.
17. Increases focus and concentration: Massage can increase your concentration because it increases your feeling of well-being and it reduces pain, making it easier to focus on other things. Concentration and memory go together to make a stable functioning mind. Stress can cause you to lose concentration. Keeping the brain focused and relaxed is a major challenge.
There are specific acupressure points on the body that can help stimulate the brain to focus and concentrate better. The LV3 on the liver meridian can help many with shortfalls. This point on the boy helps people make major decisions with better focus.
18. Increases circulation: The whole point of a massage is to improve blood circulation to the body. Whether you have sore hands, sore feet or pain and swelling anywhere else in your body, a massage will increase blood circulation to the areas and promote relaxation,
19. Reduces fatigue: Massage can reduce fatigue because it stimulates the deep cells and muscles in the body. It wakes you up in a way. You will be more alert and less fatigued. Massage also helps people sleep better, and deeper allowing them to be more alert when they awaken. When the body does not get enough deep sleep, it results in a feeling of chronic fatigue or tiredness throughout the day.
20. Relieves arthritis stiffness: People who suffer from arthritis sometimes feel that they are better off remaining quiet and still to relieve the pain the condition can cause. This is obviously, not true. Massage is a way of increasing the serotonin in your joints and in your body, so you can get pain relief. The moving of muscles through deep massage, can alleviate some pain, allowing people with arthritis to move more freely and stay active longer,
21. Children with asthma report improved air flow: It has been shown that children with asthma have less frequent asthma attacks when they receive just 20 minute massages from their parent, right before bedtime. It helps to reduce their stress and help them relax, reducing stress on their airways. Parents who give regular Swedish massage to their children with asthma, show that it reduces children’s anxiety and reduces that number of asthma attacks. Children who receive massage also have improved pulmonary function. Research also showed that parents who give regular massage to their asthmatic children, receive benefits also. Less stress and anxiety.
22. People with burn injuries have reduced pain and itching: Massage can help the scars from burns be reshaped a bit and can make them less stiff and allow more mobility of the skin and body part affected. With increased blood flow through massage, pain and itching can be reduced as well. Increased circulation can help the body heal more quickly.
23. Improves condition of people with high blood pressure: Myofascial trigger-point massage therapy has been shown to produce decreases in diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Patients also had decreases in muscle tension and lowered heart rates from massage. The general relaxation provided by a massage can change some of the most vital organs in the body for the better.
Chinese Medicine says that the foot is a separate body and can have an effect on various parts of the body. It is divided into energy sections. By massaging a specific area of the foot, the body part effected gets the benefit. To reduce high blood pressure, massage the foot’s kidney, adrenal gland, ear, ureter, uterus and head. These areas affect blood pressure. This type of massage boosts your body’s self-healing ability. It is important to drink plenty of water after the massage to clean out toxins.
24. Women with PMS have decreased water retention and pain: Many women experience significant pain and discomfort during the menstrual periods or the time just before their period. Therapeutic massage has been shown to help reduce water retention and pain for many women who suffer from PMS. Regular massage can help reduce the symptoms of PMS before they even start.
Abdominal massage can help reduce symptoms caused by fluid retention and other things associated with PMs, like headache, cramping, back pain and fatigue. Massage can reduce overall aches and pains by increasing the circulation of blood to the abdomen and other parts of the body.
25. Babies have improved heart rates and nervous system functioning: A
study at Louisville School of Nursing showed that babies who received regular
massage experienced reduced erratic heart rates. It also helped them have
better functioning of their nervous systems. Just like adults, massage can help
babies sleep better. It can reduce stress and behavior problems.
It has been proven to improve their motor development. It can relieve congestion. Baby massage, done properly, can improve an infant’s health early in life. It can help with the development of body organs as well as arms and legs.
Touching from a parent through massage can build your baby’s psychological health as well. It is very helpful with bonding with the baby. It can even help a nervous first-time parent relax and feel more at ease with their child.
Babies who receive regular massage from their parents develop better self-esteem. It helps with their communication skills. It can also help with the baby’s digestion by keeping things moving throughout the body. Reports claim that massage helps underweight babies gain weight faster. It helps boost the immune system early in life.
26. Reduce colds: Massage is recommended for reducing colds and flu. It stimulates the nervous system, and the lymph system increasing the body’s defenses against germs and viruses. It reduces stress and increases the immune system, helping the body ward off colds and flu. The immune system is what keeps us healthy, so increasing its ability to work can prevent many illnesses.
Massage stimulates the body’s immune system to work better. Massage reduces stress, and allows the body to relax. Regular massage promotes deep breathing and relaxation. Stimulating specific pressure points, can relieve congestion, neck pain and headaches as well as other cold and flu symptoms. The release of extra endorphins stimulates the immune system to work better.
27. Reduce stress: One obvious benefit of massage is that it helps reduce stress. By reducing muscle tension, you will be able to relax and breath more deeply, relieving stress. According to research, massage releases endorphins that help calm the nervous system. The Mayo Clinic claims that massage reduces stress and pain. The clinic reported that massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and it also decreased anorexia symptoms in women. It also had a positive effect on people trying to quit smoking.
A study published in the journal Psychoncology reported that massage in people receiving chemotherapy reduced serum cortisol and prolactin. Cortisol is a stress hormone. By reducing this, it reduces a person’s overall stress and allows them to feel much better.
28. Improve alertness: By releasing tension and pain, you will be able to have better mental clarity and alertness. Stress and pain can cause a person to become exhausted, even after sleeping. Massage helps a person relax so they can truly sleep deeply, allowing them to be more alert after waking.
29. Increases hair growth: A trained masseuse or masseur knows where to apply pressure to the head, to stimulate blood flow to the scalp. They stimulate the blood vessels on the scalp to get more oxygen from steadier flow of body fluids. A scalp massage can reduce stress levels, and increase blood flow to the hair follicles, increasing hair growth. When stress is too high, cortisol sends a message to the follicles to shut down. The follicles stop producing new hair. With massage, the skin and scalp are warmed, increasing blood flow, reducing cortisol and increasing hair growth.
30. Improves Digestive System: Massage in the abdominal area of the body can actually stimulates the digestive tract to function better. It can help reduce cramping, bloating and constipation. It is reported that it has helped move masses through the digestive system. It reduces inflammation and increases circulation, which helps the digestive system move more freely. Research shows that neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood are also in the gut, influencing the whole digestive system.
31. Alleviates symptoms from cancer treatment: Massage lessens chemotherapy-related nausea. It decreases stress, and lessen fatigue caused by cancer. It also reduces pain, helping cancer patients have a better quality of life. It can help reduce the fatigue that comes with cancer treatments also. It reduces nausea, anxiety and depression. Many cancer patients who receive massage therapy, report better mental clarity and alertness. It also helps them. Studies show that cancer patients who had 60-minute sessions had longer lasting results.
32. Softens hair and makes it more manageable: Head and scalp massage stimulates the natural oils from the skin to be released, which can soften hair. It makes it more manageable as well. Gentle pressure on the scalp wakes up skin cells causing them to secrete natural oils.
33. Prevents hair from thinning and graying: When scalp massage is done with Pitta-pacifying herbs, it can help balance Pitta Dosh and help prevent problems related to it like thinning hair and premature graying. or thinning of hair. It also helps reduce body heat in general, especially if you have been up late a few nights or your eyes are smarting from too much close work on the computer or reading. ..
34. Reduces ankle and joint problems: Massage can be very beneficial for ankle pain like achilles tendonitis. It can help break down scar tissue. By stimulating blood flow. It can speed healing and help stretch the calf muscles. By relaxing the muscles in the ankles and feet, it can reduce swelling and inflammation, easing pain and discomfort.
35. Relieves bunion pain: Most people believe that bunions can only be treated with surgery. Obviously, the shoes you wear will have a major impact on whether or not you develop bunions. However, after you have them, massage can help get rid of them. A therapist will evaluate your walking and gait to start with and then develop a technique for using massage to benefit your feet. The massage helps decrease soft tissue accumulation, reducing the pain of the bunion. Massage helps reduce inflammation and increases blood circulation to the area.
36. Helps heal diabetic foot ulcers and other diabetic problems: Massage can help reduce the stress associated with having diabetes. Varying blood sugar levels can put stress on the entire body. It can cause foot ulcers for sufferers. Calming the central nervous system with massage can give the body and mind needed rest. Massage can decrease the production of stress hormones. It increases blood circulation throughout the body. This helps with uptake of insulin and more efficient production of energy. Elevated blood sugar levels cause thickening of connective tissue, which affects mobility.
37. Helps reduce artery disease: Harding and narrowing of the arteries, can be caused by a decrease in blood flow in the body. Acupressure has been shown to increase the blood flow, reversing some of the problems. An example of how it helps, is by increasing the blood flow to people with swollen legs, reducing the condition.
38. Menopause Relief: Many physical changes take place during menopause. Reflexology and foot massage both help alleviate symptoms of menopause. They helped to decrease anxiety, depression, hot flashes and night sweats in women during menopause. Certain areas of the feet stimulate the brain to feel better, reducing some of the symptoms of menopause.
39. Relieve fibromyalgia symptoms: Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic pain in the body. A study at the University of Miami shows that for patients who suffer from the condition, massage can increase the level of serotonin in the body, and decrease the level of stress hormones circulating. It can decrease substance B, a cause of pain. These things will help improve sleep and overall well-being.
40. Improve cardiovascular condition: The general benefits of massage all contribute the improved heart health. Relaxing, better sleep and less pain. Massage relieves contracted muscles and pushes blood towards the heart, easing the strain on the heart. Better circulation, keeps the heart working better.
41. Help reduce effects of dementia: Massage for dementia patients is helpful with behavior issues as well as the regular benefits of massage. Many patients respond by feeling more calm and having less anxiety., when they receive regular massage. The increase in circulation has been cited as a benefit in potentially slowing down the progression of dementia.
Massage can be used with dementia patients to reduce pain and relieve the stress most patients experience. There are several different types of dementia, however, at this point there is no cure for the condition.
A report from April 2015 of ‘Massage Today’ claims that massage therapy has a positive effect on people with dementia. It can help reduce the use of chemicals and drugs in relieving symptoms.
One of the major benefits of massage for these patients is that it focuses on human interaction. Dementia patients benefit from building strong bonds with family and care takers.
Types of massage helpful for dementia patients include:
Hand massage: This has been shown to reduce the cortisol levels and help with relaxation. Gently rubbing the palm helps reduce agitation for many patients.
Slow back massage, using the palm of the hand in long, strokes is very helpful as well. It releases endorphins and helps patients sleep better. It can also reduce blood pressure.
Foot massage: Researchers have determined that short foot massages helps improve the behavior of many patients, reducing verbal aggression, and repetitive movements.
Simply by increasing touch by another human being, many dementia patients get relief from anxiety and reduce problem behavior.
42. Reduce chronic neck pain: Regular massage can relieve neck pain if it is done properly, and for a longer period of time. The times that appear to help the most are one-hour sessions, two to three times a week, for at least four weeks. This is according to a scientific researcher at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
Chronic neck pain is common in many adults and can be caused by sleeping in an uncomfortable position, sitting in front of a computer for hours during the day, car accidents and other daily activities that can strain the neck.
Anti-inflammatory medicines can help, but sometimes they do not provide enough help. Massaging the neck can increase the blood circulation and increase the lymphatic fluids flowing through the area, helping relief the problem of chronic neck pain, without the side effects of drugs.
The study done at Group Health Research Institute, showed that of the subjects in the study, the best results were from the subjects who received a one-hour massage, three times a week for four weeks. These subjects were five times as likely to report meaningful improvement in functioning and a decrease in pain.
43. Improve balance: For older adults, a one-hour massage once a week for six weeks helped improve balance as well as other benefits. This helps them retain their good health and ability to move around independently. In a study conducted, on seniors, lower blood pressure was also a benefit. The study included people between 58 and 68 years old. Older adults are more prone to falls and broken bones than other groups. Massage can be a non-drug way help avoid this by improving the balance and overall well-being of those who receive them.
44. Foot massage can relieve symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis:: Reflexology is a massage technique that has proven helpful for people suffering from MS. It is based on traditional Chinese medicine, in which pressure is applied to the feet to stimulate specific organs in the body. The pressure sends energy to the areas pinpointed in the massage. It has shown positive results with reducing muscle spasms, pain and bladder and bowel problems. It has helped improve walking and overall well-being.
45. Massage can reduce swelling in the body: Swelling in the legs or other parts of the body is called edema. It is when fluid is trapped within the body’s tissues. This condition can be improved by massage therapy. Edema can be caused by pregnancy, heart disease, liver or kidney damage or injuries. If you have heart, liver or kidney problems, you need to get medical help. For others, massage can be beneficial.
Massage directs pressure to muscles areas where edema exists. The lymphatic system is stimulated and helps drain the fluid. The type of massage is known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage. It is when gentle massage is used to get the body’s circulation going. It also helps boost the immune system. The massage is done in the direction of the heart. It is best to massage the nearer parts to the heart first, to clear the way for the lymph system of farther away parts. After the massage, wrap the area in minimal-stretch bandages. This supports the connective tissue and help prevent fluids from returning.
For pregnant women, it has been shown that foot massage can be very beneficial. A study done on pregnant women in Turkey showed that women who received foot massages during the later stages of pregnancy, suffered less swelling and fluid retention in their legs.
46. Reduces neuropathy: Neuropathy is a problem with the nerves, especially those in the arms and legs. The problem causes either numbness or pain or both. The pins-and-needles sensation and tingling in the feet and hands can be difficult to live with. Neuropathy can be caused by several things, but the\\\ most common are diabetes and chemotherapy.
Thirty percent of sufferers have unknown causes. Other less likely causes are infections, liver disease, poisons and vitamin deficiencies. Massage can reduce neuropathy in sufferers. By increasing circulation and blood flood to the affected areas, it can reduce pain and increase the overall feeling of well-being,
47. Facial Pain Reduction: Massage can be helpful with facial pain reduction. Temporomandibular joint disorder is the most common cause of facial pain, aside from migraine headaches, and sinus pain. They are caused because of problems with the facial bones and joints connecting them. This can be caused by teeth grinding, stress, injury or arthritis. This pain can make chewing nearly impossible. Some methods for relief include:
Cranial-Sacral Massage: It can help restore the bones to their natural position. It can reduce the pressure caused by this condition.
Acupressure: This can help reduce future instances of this type of pain.
Gentle massage of the whole face can help with relaxation and give relief from pain.
48. Emotional Balance: Massage can improve emotional balance by giving relief from stress and the fight-or-flight response. Stress can lead to stomach problems, headaches, insomnia and more. It can cause drug or alcohol abuse, social withdrawal and other negative side effects.
Most emotional disorders can be reduced through massage. It helps a person relax and helps them to feel physically better, which can help with their emotional well-being. Massage lowers the heart rate, and increases the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the body. Serotonin and dopamine are increased through massage, which can reduce pain and improve emotional balance.
49. Anti-Wrinkle Treatment: A little bit of oil and a facial massage each day can help your skin tighten and make it possible to smooth out wrinkles over time. Increased circulation can help slow the visible signs of aging. Things that increase wrinkles is sun exposure, not drinking enough water, not taking care of your skin, and aging.
To prevent wrinkles for showing up to early in life, aromatherapy along with facial massages are very helpful. Facial massages not only help you look better, they help you feel better.
By stimulating the skin cells, you are increasing blood flow to the face. This not only makes your skin look better, it makes it healthier through increased oxygen flow into the cells. By going to a professional masseuse, you can avoid the early onset of wrinkles.
50. Massage to Reduce Cellulite: Massage can help the lymphatic system and can help improve blood circulation. This can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. The guidelines for massaging away cellulite include:
Apply body oil from the feet or knees upwards. This makes the rubbing and massaging for circulation a lot easier. Use fingers to knead inner knee, shoulders, and smaller areas. Use your whole hand for larger areas like the hips, thighs, and stomach. This will bring the blood more towards the skin. Use a massage style like you are kneading dough. This helps eliminate waste deposits in the skin.
Use fists to move cellulite bulges. This will help break up the fatty deposits in the skin and help the body get rid of them naturally.
Wringing motion can also help breakup cellulite. It is just moving the flesh as though it is a towel you are wringing out.
Last method is using heavy strokes with deep pressure from the hands and feet upwards. This helps the cellulite to be eliminated by the metabolism.
Most people think of getting a massage as simply a way to relax and feel good, but you can see that there are many added benefits to consider. Increased blood circulation and relaxing tense muscles are major benefits, but these things have major benefits to the human body.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.