There aren’t many things more heavenly than slipping into a soft white robe, laying on your front, plonking your face into a padded hole and getting a massage. They just feel sooo good. In fact, the word “massage” alone is enough to loosen our minds and put us in a lethargic state. It’s that feeling of loosening up a little, having all those tight muscles rubbed into relaxation, and falling into a zen-like state for an hour or so – just you, a pair of professional hands and some strangely hypnotic music. The problem is our perception of massage — everything you think you know about massage is pretty much wrong.
Booking into a spa isn’t cheap, which makes it super-duper-hard to justify it because they’re just a treat yourself thing, right? Wrong. Massage is so much more than a bit of self-indulgence where you get to go “ooooooo” and “aaaaahhhh” and so, starting now, we’re about to change the way you look at them.
To put it bluntly: A good massage has more benefits than a Mr. Whippy ice cream van has sprinkles. Getting a rub down can enhance your physical mobility, relieve any muscular pains you might be suffering from, lower the concentration of stress hormones in your bloodstream, boost the number of feel-good chemicals spurted out by your brain (#dopamine #serotonin), make your immune system stronger than Clark Kent and, to pop a cherry on top, improve your sleep.
Essentially, massages aren’t just a cheeky little indulgence you should enjoy with champagne on your birthday — they should be a part of your healthy lifestyle efforts, sort of like going for a run, practising Muay Thai or eating an uber-healthy energy-boosting snack].
So, let’s crack on with this epic list of benefits, shall we…
- Relax To The Max
If you’ve been an adult for more than six-and-a-half minutes, you’ll know life isn’t all rainbows and winning lottery tickets. It’s pretty stressful too. It can be mentally stressful (thank you very much utility bills and bickering politicians) and it can be physically stressful (mucho gracias workouts). And the reason we’re telling you this is simple: when you are stressed, you unwittingly produce an unhealthy level of cortisol – which is Mr Popular amongst the stress hormones – and this can lead to a bunch of unwelcome problems, like weight gain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, migraines and more.
That’s where massage therapy swoops in wearing its red cape and matching mask. Studies have shown that massage therapy can decrease these levels of cortisol in the body, which will help your body recover more efficiently. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Massage therapy also triggers long-lasting feelings of happiness, relaxation, chipper moods, and overall reduced stress levels. So, to sum it all up, massages are oh-so-groovy.
- Be A Better You
To say a massage will help you reduce stress now would sound like we’re repeating ourselves, but we’re more just calling in some reinforcements to back-up a point that needs it — massage aids stress relief, every gorgeous aspect of it. Yes, a single rub down here and there will make you feel relaxed, but regular massage sessions, enjoyed over a prolonged period, now that’s where you’ll find the gold at the end of the rainbow. We’re talking boosted energy levels, significantly reduced pain (including chronic agony) and, best of all, a whole new lease of life both physically and emotionally, which is something we could all do with a little more of.
- Blood Pressure Is Going Down
No one wants to hear that their blood pressure is on the up and up. Why? Schimples. The higher your blood pressure the more strain there is on your heart and vessels and that can lead to… well… we don’t want to wander too far down that dark and gloomy path, so let’s just say its not good news. Thankfully, regular massage sessions are pretty ace at reducing blood pressure levels. In fact, we’ve even seen some long-term studies that show those rocking a consistent massage program have reduced both their systolic (that’s the upper number) and their diastolic (which is the lower number) blood pressure. That’s amazing. And we’re not done with the good news yet.
Consistent massage sessions also deserve a high-five for tackling the triggers for so many different things, from anxiety to hostility, tension to depression. Oh yeah, and then there’s the fact lower blood pressure means a much lower risk of suffering a heart attack, a stroke, and/or kidney failure, as well as a plethora of other health issues. Go massage.
- Give Your Muscles A Minute
If you were to break the whole massage therapy thing down to its most basic purpose, you’ll find it’s all about targeting any body pain you might be suffering from and then eliminating them by relieving any muscle tension, increasing your body’s flexibility, and forcing any affected muscles to take a chill pill. Actually, massage therapy kind of tells your whole body to relax a bit, which can only be good news. And that ain’t all, buddy.
Getting a professional rub down is also a groovy way to improve the circulation of blood to any tense or damaged muscles, which is epic news because the more blood flowing to these affected areas the more nutrients and oxygen your damaged tissues will be getting. This extra dose of the good stuff will also help reduce any stiffness and swelling you might be feeling in your muscles and joints, by increasing your flexibility. Ergo, less pain.
But here’s the point that’s really worth popping on a postcard and sending home: getting a massage helps release endorphins (they are the happy-vibe hormones that reduce pain), as well as dopamine and serotonin. Basically, it’s good news for positivity because all of these hormones will boost your body physically and emotionally. So, to recap, massage therapy has secret healing powers, helps with pain management, calms your nerves and gives you a large dollop of euphoria. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
- Miss Circulation, It’s Good News
When you pop into a spa to get a massage, you’re pretty much hoping it’s gonna get rid of that crick in your neck and the worries on your mind – even if just for a day or two. You’re excited about the instant “ahhh yeah” feelings. But there’s a whole bunch of long-term benefits that shouldn’t be underestimated or overlooked, such as a dreamy circulation, and that’s kicked off by getting massages on the regular – consistently. Why? Because the better your circulation of rich blood the quicker your body can heal.
Of course, there are plenty of alternative ways you can improve your circulation, such as drinking water, or green tea, propping your legs up, exercising often, and not drinking as much alcohol. But what makes massage therapy the best is its use of hands-on pressure. Yup. The person massaging you isn’t just making you feel like you’re on cloud nine, they’re moving your blood through the damaged and congested areas of your body and, at the same time, by releasing this pressure, new blood can flow into your tissues. It’s epic.
“But what about all those squeezing and twisting and pulling actions?” We here you bemuse. “Are they just for effect or is there a point to them?” Well, the short answer is: the latter — there’s a point to them. A big one. These techniques are used to remove lactic acid from your muscle tissues, and by doing so you get to revel in an improved lymph fluid circulation (that’s what carries the metabolic waste products away from your internal organs and muscles allowing your body to function better overall).
- The Perfect Posture
We don’t have the official numbers here, but we reckon about 98.9% of people have clutched their lower back and muttered some mild obscenities under their breath about how much pain they’re in. Muscle pain. And the same goes for the shoulders and neck. Of course, there’s a smorgasbord of things that could cause this sort of discomfort, but the most common of the lot is a poor posture. Just to confirm, that’s poor posture while standing and sitting. The reason this sucks a bunch is that it puts extra strain on the back that can often lead to some rather undelightful spasms, pains and tense muscles, especially in the hips, glutes, back, neck, and legs. That’s where a proper massage can make a big old difference.
Massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment, and that’s one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of being massaged. It’s about allowing the body to relax and the muscles to loosen, which sets of a chain reaction resulting in the body positioning itself in its natural and pain-free posture. Massage therapy also gives your joints greater freedom, improved flexibility, an improved range of motion and, if that wasn’t enough to make you smile, relieves the pressure points causing you to bemoan getting old. Basically, adding a spot of regular massage to your life will sort you right out.
- Never Feel Wiped Out Again
Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but massage therapy is known to improve the body’s immune system. Period. This is because the more stressed your body is, the more susceptible you are to both injury and illness. Think about it for a moment. When you are stressed, you lose sleep and pick up ugly habits, like not eating healthily, all of which directly wallops the body’s immune system. Thankfully, massage therapy helps reduce stress — and that’s not all.
A good rub down can also boost the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity, enhancing the body’s ability to deliver nourishment where needed, not to mention this method of therapy is also an amazing addition to any exercise program. This is because massages are able to keep the body fine-tuned, which helps to keep the immune system stronger than a weightlifter and more resilient than a professional Muay Thai fighter. Like we keep saying, it’s amazing.
And there we have it. 7 solid benefits that prove a massages isn’t great – it’s epic. So epic you should add them to your healthy lifestyle strategy, incorporate them into your exercise routine, and use them to help you recover. They’re like the green tea of the therapy world in that they help with everything. So, what are you waiting for, find a massage therapist near you and do all it takes to become BFFs. It’ll be the best thing you’ve done for your body since committing to 8 glasses of clean water a day.