Massage has been practiced for thousands of years, originating from ancient cultures all over the world. Most people want to treat themselves to a massage after a long day, but it can be much more effective for the body for other reasons as part of a healthy routine. Not only does a massage feel nice, but research suggests that getting massaged can promote overall wellness. The best part: you don’t need a prescription for a massage. So, how do you know when you actually need to schedule one?
You’re Stressed Out
Massage therapy is a great way to decompress and take time for yourself both physically and mentally. If you’re feeling stressed, your body is most likely going through a “fight-or-flight response” which can cause many problems with your health if it goes untreated. A Korean study found that patients that received a quick massage five minutes before surgery had significantly lower blood pressure, heart rates and cortisol (the stress hormone) than those who went into surgery without any massage.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
With up to 70 million Americans suffering from chronic sleep problems and insomnia, massage can be a crucial tool to help you get some well-deserved rest. Not only does it aid in pain relief and feeling comfortable enough to sleep, but it increases your serotonin levels (the happy hormone). By massage therapy boosting serotonin, your body will get a natural chemical reaction to create more melatonin; making you feel super sleepy. One small study found that even a 20-minute massage reduces blood pressure and increases sleepiness immediately.
You Have Neck, Shoulder, Hip or Back Pain
Massage is a natural painkiller! People with chronic pain often turn to massage therapy to help naturally improve mood as well as manage the pain. If you’re dealing with ongoing discomfort caused by arthritis, IBS or another condition, it’s important to keep vocal about what hurts and what “hurts so good” so your therapist can facilitate healing for you. In one study, neuroscientists noticed brain activity of people undergoing massages activated the same part of the brain that is activated by opioid painkillers. If you feel pain in a particular area, direct pressure on the “knot”, or contracted muscle fibers, by your therapist is targeted and stimulates blood circulation and serotonin.
You Work a Sedentary Desk Job
Posture can be a great indication of the tension you’re holding in your back and neck. Hunching can create a build-up of tension, bad posture and headaches. Not only does massage reduce tension, but it helps your muscles receive proper blood circulation and oxygen to relax to their natural position to support your spine.
Your Muscles Are Sore
Those who exercise on the regular can have recovery rewards from a massage, which will loosen tight muscle bundles that have formed (causing soreness). Your massage therapist can release the tight muscles and tension by focusing on a specific area to assist in your body’s recovery. In a recent study, people either rested or massaged their hamstrings after doing a lot of deadlifts. Afterwards, the group who massaged reported less of the muscle soreness and pain and were able to recover quicker than the ones who didn’t. If you go into a workout with soreness, your tight muscles will have resistance that makes your body and limbs feel heavier. It’s important to get blood flowing to sore areas and get that tension released with a massage.
You Get Frequent Headaches
While headaches and migraines can have all kinds of causes, usually they stem from high stress levels or lack of sleep. Another big cause of headaches can be a result of tension in the back, neck and head. Massage will help the body maintain an optimal level of relaxation and stress relief, while also easing pressure and discomfort on the neck, shoulders and head. A recent study showed that people who received massage exhibited fewer migraines and better sleep quality during that time, than did people who did not receive massage therapy. You’ll also notice an extra bonus with regular massage: an increase of serotonin leading to regulated mood, sleep and appetite.
You Keep Sighing
Sometimes a little symptom of sighing a lot can be a major sign it’s time for a massage. Instead of naturally exhaling after breathing in, some people hold their breath because of tension in the ribcage, resulting in frequent sighing. When this happens, it’s time to release these muscles with a massage, as they’re now impeding on regular breathing from holding too tightly.
You’ve Never Had a Massage
Not every massage has to be a treatment of a problem. Don’t wait for stress or pain to build up before you come in. Massage simply feels good and you’ll find yourself naturally relaxing and your tension will be released. Many clients have had decades of pain, medication, stress and other pain management treatments and have never tried massage therapy. Surprisingly, some people don’t even know they have an underlying pain or issue until their therapist starts working on them. Start taking care of yourself and see how your body benefits from regular massage therapy.
You Just Started Working Out
If you’re just starting to work out (or it’s been a while!) you’ll be building new muscle. However, this also means you can put strain on your entire body and end up tearing a muscle. Sometimes the muscle can heal on its own, but make sure to commit to caring for your muscles just as much as you put strain on them. Massage therapy is good for improving range of motion, releasing tension and deep stretching the muscles, which can lead to injury if left unaddressed.
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