The perception that massage therapy as a viable way to reduce stress and improve one’s health is growing. As the popularity of alternative medicine increases, more people will turn to massage therapy for pain reduction and other proven beneficial after affects.
10 Health Benefits
After a therapeutic massage, a client will experience a number of positive after effects, according to Dale Healey, dean of the School of Massage Therapy at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota. The client will have lower blood pressure, healthier skin, greater flexibility in his tendons and muscles, an increase in range of motion and a reduction in pain. Additionally, the client can expect the massage to boost her immune system, promote the circulatory system, facilitate the removal of metabolic waste, and decrease emotional and physical fatigue.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Research conducted by the Yale Prevention Research Center and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that Swedish massage sessions reduce pain in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. A chronic condition, osteoarthritis results in physical limitations and afflicts 21 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A study spanning 16 weeks showed that patients who received Swedish massage, combined with conventional treatments such as prescription medication, showed significantly “improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.” Patients who did not receive therapeutic Swedish massage treatments experienced no positive changes.
Slow stroke back massage sessions produced psychological benefits, according to a study published in the journal Rehabilitation Nursing. Each participant received one massage, three days in a row. Upon an evaluation of their perceptions, all patients showed a psychological benefit. Patients indicated that they felt “comfortable, good, pleasant and warm” during their massages. Among these positive psychological after affects, patients reported feeling calm, cared for and restful. Additionally, the experiment reports that patients perceived themselves to be happy and relaxed along with experiencing a decrease in anxiety.
Massage has been shown to increase the levels of neurohormones in the body, according to scientific studies conducted by the TOUCH Research Institute at the University of Miami. Neurohormones, like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin are produced by the nervous system and an increase in their levels produces positive mood enhancement. Dopamine helps people feel enthusiastic and inspired, while serotonin quells irritability and food cravings. Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “hormone of love,” infuses people with warm feelings of attachment to others.