How Massage Therapists Impact Health and Wellness
Updated: Jun 2
What mental associations pop up first when you think about massage and massage therapy? If your first thoughts are along the lines of “pampering,” “indulgence,” “spa days,” or “self-care,” you are missing the most important piece of the puzzle: the significant (health benefits of massage). For many medical conditions and needs, massage therapy is an essential tool to support health and wellness. It’s not merely a luxury; it’s a medical necessity. In fact, Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler defines massage as the “therapeutic practice of manipulating the muscles and limbs to ease tension and reduce pain.” As part of a physical therapy regimen or practiced alone, massage therapy can help reduce the symptoms associated with chronic pain, stress, and more. Surprised? Consider that 41% of survey respondents who received a massage within the past year were seeking medical relief and 26% were seeking help to ease stress, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. Researchers have found that massage therapy from licensed practitioners can produce numerous health benefits including reduced stress and pain and improved immune function, physical fitness, and health and wellness.
If you’re researching (how to become a certified massage therapist) or you’re interested in massage therapy in general, you might already know some of these (surprising health benefits of massage therapy). But if you’re curious about the myriad health benefits produced by massage therapists’ work, read on for a fuller breakdown of the ways massage therapy supports patients’ health and wellness.
What Are the Health Benefits of Massage Therapy? Massage therapy enhances patients’ health and wellness in numerous ways. A massage wakes up a recipient’s nervous system, gets blood and lymph fluids moving, stimulates muscles and organs, and gets chemicals and hormones pumping again. It can produce positive effects on all the body’s systems, including the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, integumentary, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems. In short, massage therapy can do the entire human body good.
Massage work can also help to ease the effects and symptoms of certain medical conditions. Read on for a quick list of the specific (health benefits of massage therapy) when executed by a certified massage therapist: 1. Reduced stress, anxiety, or depression symptoms
Studies have shown that massage improves patients’ emotional states and stress levels. The American Massage Therapy Association notes that massage therapy can prove effective for stress relief, citing studies showing improvements in heart rate and blood pressure readings as a result of massage and trigger point therapy. Similarly, the Mayo Clinic found that an hour-long massage can reduce the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 30%, which can in turn increase the body’s serotonin, helping it ward off anxiety, pain, and sadness. On top of that, a study in the journal “Depression and Anxiety” found that regular massage therapy can cut symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in half. Proponents of shiatsu massage, in particular, cite its effects on relaxation and tension relief that can improve mental wellness. 2. Relief for headaches or migraines
Massage is often cited as an effective therapy for tension headaches and migraines. Tension headaches can be triggered by muscular tension, body misalignment, and stress, among other causes, and massage can ease the pressure created by migraines and tension-related headaches. 3. Eased side effects associated with cancer A cancer diagnosis and treatment comes with stress, chemotherapy-related nausea, and other unpleasant side effects that massage can help to temper. Manipulating pressure points and massaging the abdomen can reduce nausea, and research has shown massage therapy to be an increasingly popular method of treating pain and symptoms associated with cancer.
4. Improved physical fitness
By its nature, massage can reduce muscle tension, enhance exercise performance, increase a patient’s range of motion, improve balance in older patients, and improve cardiovascular health. In short, it’s a secret weapon for improved physical fitness in patients.
5. Managed chronic pain conditions For patients with chronic soft tissue pain, regular massage therapy can be helpful in pain management. Massage can help patients manage low-back pain, chronic neck pain, and lower joint replacement pain. Additionally, massage therapy can ease the chronic discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
6. Increased overall wellness
Increased relaxation that comes from a great massage can improve sleep through the alleviation of stress on the body and mind and through management of body pain and tension, according to sleep experts. Good-quality sleep can produce a domino effect of improved eating and exercise habits and can support overall wellness. Additionally, lower blood pressure from massage and resulting relaxation can help stave off a number of chronic health problems associated with too-high diastolic and systolic stats. How to Become a Massage Therapist Want more information on how you can become a massage therapist and change patients’ lives by helping them enjoy a sound mind within a sound, relaxed body? Contact Cortiva Institute today and request information on a career in massage therapy.