This is a guest post by Morgan Taylor
Morgan Taylor is a recent college graduate living in North Carolina. As a communications major, she enjoys writing and learning about health, productivity and fitness. When she isn’t writing about health and wellness she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and cooking exciting new recipes.
The healing benefits of massage therapy have been understood and utilized by other cultures for centuries, however, these benefits are still relatively unknown by many in Western culture. Thankfully, we are seeing more and more practitioners of massage working to illuminate the holistic power of massage therapy. Here’s the five most important reasons you should try massage therapy.
Massage Counteracts All the Sitting We Do
There is no denying it – we are in a sedentary age. And, although we know how detrimental it is to our health, the average American is still spending between 6 to 8 hours of their day sedentary. All of this sitting is causing us to suffer from serious postural stress, spinal problems, and pain in the neck, shoulders, back, and glutes. Massages work to relieve the tension caused by a sedentary lifestyle, improve blood circulation, and counteract the spinal imbalances caused by excessive sitting.
Massage Boosts the Immune System
Looking to prepare for cold and flu season? Try starting with a massage! Studies have shown that massages can increase the amount of white blood cells. These blood cells are the body’s leaders in defending against dangerous invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Other studies have demonstrated that massages can increase immune system strength in women with breast cancer as well as people who are HIV-positive.
Massage Improves Quality of Sleep and Combats Sleep Disorders
Many of us have found ourselves dozing off during a massage – but why? Well, a growing body of research has shown that massage can be beneficial in combating insomnia and other sleep disorders because it promotes the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is used by the brain to produce melatonin – a hormone that tells the brain to “chill out” and prepare for sleep. In addition, research has found that the brain waves that appear during deep sleep, delta waves, increase through massage.
Massage Helps With Anxiety and Depression
Massage therapy, especially when coupled with aromatherapy, induces the body’s relaxation response and increases levels of serotonin and dopamine – neurotransmitters that, in low levels, have been linked to depression. In addition, massage has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol by up to 53%. Lowered levels of cortisol decrease stress symptoms like increased blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of anxiety.
Massage Helps Prevent Migraines, Tension Headaches, and Vascular Headaches
If you suffer from migraines or headaches, you know that they can be debilitating. Massage is a treatment that many have found to be very effective in reducing or preventing migraines and headaches. Neck and shoulder massages loosen and relieve tension in the suboccipital – the muscles at the base of the skull which can shoot pain through the back of the head into the eye areas. Massage also acts as a natural pain reliever by improving blood circulation and increasing endorphin production, the body’s natural pain killer. Due to the extreme sensitivity to touch during a migraine, the most favorable and beneficial routine is a deep tissue massage in between migraine attacks.