The art of massage for healing and relaxation dates back many thousands of years and extends across pretty much every ancient civilization. The Chinese, Indians, Ancient Greeks, and Romans all practiced it extensively as a vital component to their healing and health regimes. In fact, Roman gladiators were even given a vigorous massage just before their fights to ensure they were properly warmed up and fit for battle!
Pretty much every single part of the body can benefit in some way from being properly massaged. Of course, with such a long history, massage techniques nowadays can vary and come in many different forms (for example, Thai massage or Swedish massage), and can range from vigorous to gentle depending on what you require.
Essentially, however, it is all the same thing – i.e. manipulation of soft body tissue.
1. Massage Relaxes The Body
Sounds obvious, but a good massage is a great way to relax tight muscles, stiff joints and aching tendons.
And who doesn’t need that from time to time?
Massage movement not only helps to ease stiffness by warming and loosening up the body, but also stimulates the blood flow, which brings additional oxygen and nutrients to those parts that need them most.
2. Massage Makes You Feel Calm And Less Stressed
There's nothing more relaxing than a gentle soothing massage; the more relaxed you are, the fewer stress hormones are released into the body; especially from the often much over worked adrenal glands.
In fact, massage is so effective that it can even help regulate your periods if they have been adversely affected by too much stress.
Another great reason to hop on that massage couch!
3. Massage Helps You Sleep Better At Night
Massages are so good at helping you sleep that it’s quite common to nod off during a massage. This has happened to me on countless occasions! Apparently, it’s down to how massage works on your autonomic nervous system.
It is thought that massage can alter your brainwaves from the normal beta and alpha waves, which you experience when you are awake, down to the delta waves, which are similar to that of deep sleep.
The trick is to make sure you stay awake on your journey home!
4. Massage Makes Your Skin Look And Feel Better
How? Well, as your sweat glands become more active, this has a detoxifying effect.
In addition, during massage the skin is rejuvenated by the increase in circulation, which brings nutrients to the sebaceous glands, which in turn makes the skin softer and more supple.
As an added bonus, massage also removes the dead top layer of skin further improving its condition and giving you a nice healthy glow.
5. Massage Improves Digestion
The major benefit of massage on the digestive system is the way it stimulates the movement of food through the digestive tract. However, it can also be used to help relieve bloating, constipation and even conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
You can even learn to self-massage so you can provide yourself with instant relief. When performed properly, self-massage is simple and incredibly effective.
6. Massage Acts As a Detoxifier
The lymphatic system is responsible for helping the body to fight off infection, distribute fluid, and transport fat. But unlike the heart, the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump.
This is where massage comes in!
Massage is a fantastic method for speeding up the flow of lymph to detoxify the body and help prevent fluid retention. It also gives a boost to the immune and autonomic nervous system.
7. Massage Helps You Breathe More Easily
The process of massaging the chest, back, and upper body helps to relax the respiratory muscles, which makes breathing easier. Plus, the increase in blood circulation to the lungs also helps to carry nutrients and rids the body of carbon dioxide.
So, if you are stressed and suffer from shortness of breath or have a problem with asthma or bronchitis, you should consider getting a regular massage for this benefit alone!
I know this all sounds pretty great, but before you rush off to your nearest professional massage therapist, there is just one little thing I should mention. Although massage is incredibly safe, there are certain situations that mean it’s not always advisable to have one. These are known as “contra-indications” and can include things such as allergies and high blood pressure.
However, the good news is that these are pretty rare and normally localized. Besides, any qualified therapist will discuss them with you in the pre-consultation and make sure everything is okay long before you get on the massage couch.
I would also recommend taking it easy after a good massage and drinking lots of water to help with the detox. But in truth, massage is normally incredibly good for mind, body, and spirit, so if you have the opportunity; I cannot recommend them highly enough.