Massage therapy is often thought of as a luxury indulgence, reserved for vacation or celebratory occasions at the spa but the surprising benefits of massage are far too extensive to reserve for the rare occasion. Regular massage therapy not only feels great, but has proven physiological and psychological benefits that can improve your well-being and overall health.
Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Massage techniques applied by a trained therapist can:
Help alleviate pain
Relieve stress and anxiety
Promote an overall sense of health and wellness
The physical benefits of massage include increased blood flow, reduced pain, and greater flexibility and range of motion. The psychological benefits include decreased anxiety, depression, and enhanced feelings of well-being.
With so many advantages for both body and mind, massage therapy should be considered an integral part of a healthy lifestyle rather than an occasional indulgence. Make massage a habit and reap the rewards of better health, reduced stress, and an improved quality of life.
Massage therapy has been shown to effectively reduce stress and promote an overall sense of relaxation and well-being. Here are some of the ways regular massage can benefit both your physical and mental health.
Surprising Benefits of Massage
Decreases Stress Hormones
Massage lowers cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. Cortisol affects nearly every organ system of the body including the immune, cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems. Cortisol helps regulate the body’s stress response, metabolism, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Sustained, elevated cortisol levels can lead to increased inflammation and a weakened immune system.
Massage leads to an increase in dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good chemical messengers of the nervous system (neurotransmitters) responsible for regulating mood and promoting positive feelings.
Massage promotes deeper, more restorative sleep. People who receive regular massages often report decreased insomnia and an easier time falling and staying asleep. This may be due to the role cortisol plays in sleep-wake circadian rhythm cycles.
Lower Blood Pressure
Massage can lower heart rate and blood pressure, easing stress and anxiety. Research has shown massage can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Massage stimulates circulation throughout the body, increasing oxygen and nutrients to cells and the removal of waste materials. This aids tissue repair and facilitates recovery post-exercise as well as from injuries and overuse.
Improve Posture & Flexibility
Certain massage techniques can break up scar tissue, release adhesions and distinguish trigger points in muscle, increasing flexibility and mobility and improving posture.
Therapeutic massage can relax contracted muscles and spasm, rehabilitate scar tissue, trigger points, and adhesions that result in relief of pain from a variety of injuries and conditions such as headaches, TMJ, Fibromyalgia, Plantar Fasciitis, and repetitive stress injuries.
When received regularly, the physical benefits of massage can have long-lasting effects on your health and quality of life and should not be viewed as merely a luxury but as an important practice for maintaining holistic health and happiness
Finding a Licensed Massage Therapist in Your Area
California state law does not currently require passing a state exam or state licensing for massage therapists. Thankfully, however, many counties and municipalities require therapists acquire a certification from a private, non-profit called the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) that vets massage therapists for voluntary certification. The CAMTC certification requires passing a fingerprint and background check as well as passing a minimum 500 hours of training from an approved school. CAMTC approved therapists are required to post their certification in plain view in their office as well as on their website. You can visit the CAMTC website at www.camtc.org to check if a therapist is certified or to be sure they remain in good standing.
Check Reviews and Websites
Read online reviews from sources like Yelp or Google to determine the general experience of the clients. Look for therapists with mostly positive reviews mentioning their ability to provide effective relief from pain or stress. A massage therapist’s website should provide information about their education, experience and the techniques they offer. Additionally, by reading some of their blogs, you’ll get an idea of their skill set.
Schedule a Consultation
Contact a few therapists who interest you and schedule a phone call. This allows you to discuss your needs and goals, ask any questions you may have about massage techniques or pricing, and determine if you feel comfortable with them. Trust and comfort are important, as massage therapy requires intimate contact. Choose a therapist you feel at ease with.
Discuss Techniques and Experience
During your consultation, discuss the massage therapist’s experience, credentials, and the techniques they use. Make sure the therapist has experience treating your specific conditions or needs. Some massage therapists specialize in certain modalities like myofascial release, lymphatic drainage or oncology massage. Choose a therapist with the proper experience and training for your needs.
Check Pricing & Insurance Coverage
Massage therapy is typically not covered by insurance unless related to an automobile accident or is deemed medically necessary by your healthcare provider and covered in your healthcare plan. Some HSA or FSA are eligible for massage therapy, but again may need to be considered medically necessary to be approved. Always check your policy prior to your first appointment so you are not in for any surprises when you submit your bill for reimbursement.
Look for Package Deals to Save Money
Although a bigger upfront cost, packages can save you money in the long run. Purchasing several massages at once for a discount can stretch your budget and allow for regularly scheduled massage sessions throughout the year. Look for package options you can share with family members and that don’t expire such as these here with Modern Body.
As you have read, massage therapy provides significant benefits beyond just relaxation and stress relief. Regular massage can improve your flexibility and range of motion, enhance your posture and balance, relieve tension headaches, and even boost your immunity. While a single massage will provide temporary relief, to gain the maximum health benefits consider massage therapy as part of your regular wellness routine. The physical and mental rewards can enhance your quality of life in ways you never imagined. Why wait? Find a licensed massage therapist in your area and start your journey to better health and wellbeing.