If you’re like most people these days, you often find yourself overworked and stressed. Over time, your stress builds up and creates tension and physical problems. It’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly where your physical (especially musculoskeletal) problem come from, but stress and tension are obviously a factor.
So what can you do to relieve it? There are many answers, but one of the most effective things you can do right now to relieve tension in the body and mind is massage therapy. Too many people think massage is simply a way to relax or indulge yourself, without realizing the tangible therapeutic benefits.
Here are five solid reasons why massage therapy is good for you:
1. Reduces damage from sitting
The average office worker spends around 10 hours a day in the seated position. Medical experts continue to warn us about the effects of sitting for long periods of time; it puts us at risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression. It can also lead to muscle and joint problems. As the shoulders slump forward and the eyes strain, the lower back and gluteal muscles become overstretched and weak.
If you spend a large part of your day sitting, consulting with a qualified massage therapist can help alleviate your pain and postural stress. It’s also important to make a concerted effort to practice good posture, and take frequent “activity breaks.”
2. Lowers anxiety and stress
Stress and anxiety routinely find their way into our lives. Apart from the immediate experience of stress, it’s also thought that many diseases are either caused or exacerbated by anxiety and stress. Massage has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body and increase both serotonin and dopamine (which help alleviate stress).
Numerous studies have linked massage with a reduction of stress and anxiety. For example, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported that they felt less depressed and angry.
3. Boosts your immunity
The body’s natural defense system is the lymph. It’s been found that massage increases your number of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that help protect your body from disease. It also reduces inflammation (which is associated with asthma), cardiovascular disease, and depression.
4. Eases muscle pain
Imagine you hit your knee on a table; you’ll probably rub it immediately, as this reduces the pain. Massage works the same way. It directly reduces inflammation of muscles which may be involved in pain, and has the same pain-relieving effect as medicine like ibuprofen and aspirin. Massage also increases and improves circulation.
5. Improves sleep
Massage can make your sleep more restful. It also improves relaxation and sleep in people who are undergoing chemo or radiation. Parents of babies may also be happy to know that massage can help infants sleep more, cry less, and experience less stress.
Is massage therapy right for you?
These are just a few of the many benefits of massage therapy. If you’re feeling stressed, experiencing muscle pain, or having trouble sleeping, speaking with your local massage therapist is a good way to explore your options and better understand the treatments available for you.
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