For many people, a massage is a small luxury only to be enjoyed during a day at the spa. Unfortunately, this mindset may be causing millions of people to feel undue pain and stress. The benefits of therapeutic massage have been clinically proven, so if you’re reserving it for vacations and spa days, you might want to think again.
#1 – Pain Relief
People who are physically active aren’t free from pain – which includes muscle soreness, joints and injuries. Therapeutic massage is beneficial because it relieves pain without the need for chemicals that can cause brain fog or liver damage. Through careful pressure, the muscles can relax, and circulation will improve in turn. In fact, regular massage therapy can help to prevent the onset of post-workout muscle fatigue and soreness. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, massage therapy was highly beneficial in acute pain care settings – and in many cases, it provided as much relief as OTC or prescription drugs, too.
#2 – Relaxation
You probably already know that training hard takes its toll on your body, but it can also be hard on your mind. Athletes and bodybuilders who push themselves to perform at their very best often live with extreme stress. They want to be the best, the fastest, and the strongest, and they’ll stop at nothing to reach their goals. If this sounds familiar, therapeutic massage is a great way to reduce your stress and enjoy a superb feeling of relaxation. Numerous studies have shown that regular therapeutic massage could produce measurable psychological responses as they pertained to stress, depression, and anxiety.
#3 – Treatment and Rehabilitation of Old Injuries
Old injuries seem to fade away for months or even years at a time, but once you really get back to pushing yourself to your limits, they can make themselves known again. One of the benefits of therapeutic massage involves improving circulation throughout the body, which can decrease inflammation caused by old injuries and scar tissue. In fact, a study published in the North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy showed that therapeutic massage increased flexibility and range of motion significantly in patients dealing with mobility issues caused by past injuries.
#4 – Regulating Blood Sugar
Sugar is your body’s number one fuel source, and when you’re working out as hard as you possibly can, you’re quickly depleting your body’s stores of sugar. This can cause your hormone levels to fluctuate wildly as your insulin response tends to change as you work out and as you rest. Whether you have diabetes or you’re pushing your body to its limits in the gym, blood sugar regulation is vital to your overall health. Research out of Duke University has confirmed that stress management reduces glucose levels, and massage has been clinically proven to reduce stress.
#5 – Ridding the Body of Toxins
If you use supplements or performance enhancers as part of your daily routine, chances are good you’ve had some concerns surrounding toxins that may be building up in your body. Supplements like milk thistle can certainly help when it comes to your liver, but there’s also evidence to suggest that massage can help your body eliminate potentially harmful toxins, too. Studies have shown that regular massage keeps sinuses clear, loosens mucus in the lungs, opens the airways, and even boosts your lymphatic system, which acts as a highway for toxins, including those that are well-known byproducts of protein synthesis.
#6 – Improving Your Immune System
Whether you’re training hard for a show, a game, or even your own personal goals, there’s nothing quite like illness to cause a significant setback. Keeping your immune system in good shape is just as important as keeping your muscles strong. Another of the major benefits of therapeutic massage is the way in which it can improve your immunity over time.
A clinical trial that took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2010 actually measured immune and endocrine responses to the Swedish massage technique, and the results were astounding. In this large-scale study, published in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, individuals who received regular massage demonstrated much higher percentages of lymphocytes, which are responsible for protecting the body from disease.
The benefits of therapeutic massage have been proven time and again by doctors, researchers, and students across the globe. Not only does massage feel good and create a sense of relaxation, but it can also improve your overall health and maximize your efforts at home, in the gym, or even on the playing field.
Next, read about deep tissue massage benefits for active people here.