Massage Benefits - The
Benefits of Massage
The Benefits of Massage: Is Bodywork Right For Me?
Massage provides relief to people of all ages—from infants to
seniors—and from all walks of life—the weekend or competitive
athlete to the home gardener or overstressed, overworked executive.
Treating the Body
Massage therapy addresses a variety of health conditions, the most
prevalent being stress-related tension, which, experts believe,
accounts for 80%-90% of disease. Massage has been proven beneficial
in treating cancer-related fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood
pressure, diabetes, low back pain, immunity suppression, spinal cord
injury, autism, post-operative surgery, age-related disorders,
infertility, eating disorders, smoking cessation, and depression, to
name just a few. Here’s why:
Bodywork offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach
based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Massage has many
physiological effects, such as:
- Increasing circulation, allowing the body to pump more
oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
- Stimulating the lymph system, the body’s natural defense,
against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients,
massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
- Relaxing and softening injured and overused muscles.
- Reducing spasms and cramping.
- Increasing joint flexibility.
- Reducing recovery time for strenuous workouts and
eliminating subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.
- Releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller. For
this reason, massage is being incorporated into treatment for
chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and
- Reducing post-surgery adhesions and edema and reducing and
realigning scar tissue after healing has occurred.
- Improving range of motion and decreasing discomfort for
patients with low back pain.
- Relieving pain for migraine sufferers and decreasing the
need for medication.
- Providing exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and
reducing shortening of the muscles for those with restricted
range of motion.
- Contributing to shorter labor and reduced tearing for
expectant mothers, as well as lessening the need for medication,
minimizing depression and anxiety, and shortening hospital
It’s important to note that there are some conditions where
massage is not recommended. For example, massage is contraindicated
in people with:
- Certain forms of cancer
- Some cardiac problems
- Some skin conditions
- Infectious diseases
Your practitioner should ask you about your specific health
conditions and determine if massage, bodywork or somatic therapies
are a good idea. In some cases, the practitioner may need your
doctor’s permission before providing services.
Treating the Spirit
Massage also provides another therapeutic component largely absent
in today’s world: tactile stimulation, or, more simply, touch. In
1986, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami
published groundbreaking research on the effects of massage on
premature babies. The preterm babies who received massage therapy
showed 47% greater weight gain and six-day shorter hospital stays
than the infants who were not receiving massage. But is this study
evidence of what loving touch can do spiritually, or rather what
massage can do on a physiological level? Regardless, babies are not
the only benefactors.
Many adults have reported cathartic experiences on the massage
table. As a therapist carefully unwinds a client’s stressed and
tired muscles, the therapist may very well be unwinding the taut,
pent-up emotions that one doesn’t always have time to process in the
middle of the day. And the feeling of being touched in a safe,
caring, compassionate manner can be a very powerful experience,
reminding the client that she or he is not alone in the world.
As studies continue to reveal the link between kinesiology and
physical and emotional health, the effects of massage will be
further documented. However, one need only experience a good massage
to know it's beneficial to body and soul.