No one denies that a good massage makes you feel relaxed and refreshed but are there any true health benefits to a massage? Scientists have performed research on this topic and to date there are no known reasons why a massage makes you feel great, it just does.
Massage therapy actually dates back thousands of years and can be found in many cultures. Ancient writings from Japan, China and India depict massage therapy. It was first introduced into the United States around the 1850’s after two physicians had studied massage therapy in Sweden.
Uses of Massage Therapy
Massage Therapy has many different purposes. It can be used to help relieve pain, as a stress reducer, to help with sports injuries, helps people deal with stress and depression as well as for overall relaxation and general health.
Taking a massage is extremely popular, in 2007 a National Health Survey was conducted in the U.S. The results showed that 18 million adults and 700,000 children had received some form of massage therapy in the preceding year.
Types of Massage Therapy
There are many different types of massage therapy and variations of each one. One of the most popular types is the Swedish Massage. In this method of massage the therapist uses long sweeping strokes to apply pressure. They also use techniques such as kneading, tapping, vibration and the use of deep circular movements.
Other types include deep tissue massage, hot massage, trigger points massage and Thai massage. Thai massage is increasing in popularity in the Western hemisphere. This method makes use of the use of different poses and the therapist will often use their feet as well as their arms and hands to perform the massage.
Therapeutic massages often include the use of essential oils which help you to relax more deeply whilst enjoying the massage. Lavender is often used in these types of massages.
Main Benefits of Massage Therapy
As we mentioned earlier scientific evidence for the benefits of massage is extremely limited. But there are good signs which indicate that massage therapy does indeed offer benefits to people.
Going for a one time massage session can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Going for multiple massage sessions over a regular period of time can help with reducing anxiety, panic attacks, depression and alleviate pain.
Clinical trials have shown that massage therapy can be useful for people dealing with the pain of cancer. It can help those people who have chronic back and neck pain and for overall general well being.
It is not exactly known how this works but the theory behind it is as follows. Massage seems to stimulate those senses that send pain signals to your brain. It is thought that the release of certain chemicals such as serotonin or endorphins in your body is responsible for making these changes happen. It is not possible to draw any conclusions at this time and further study is necessary to test out and substantiate these theories.