Are Massages Good For You?
There aren’t many people who don’t like to give themselves some TLC by partaking in some self-care Sunday activities every now and then, and I think we all know why. One of the greatest universal self-care activities? A relaxing massage session. But are massages good for you, or are they just an hour wasted? Despite the obvious hurts-so-good, relaxing 60-minutes or so of peace, massages offer an extensive list of benefits to the body and mind that extend far beyond just feeling good (that’s just a bonus). So, if you’ve ever wondered if massages are actually good for you *spoiler alert!* the answer is yes, and here’s why.
- A massage is an ancient tradition that involves the kneading and manipulation of the body to alleviate muscle and joint pressure. Most professional massages are done by a masseuse, but you can also massage by using a foam roller or massage gun.
- Massage therapy provides both mental and physical benefits to the body that range from alleviating pain to soothing anxiety and depression.
- Massages are safe for virtually everyone, so the benefits offered are applicable to everyone.
Are massages good for you?
So what constitutes a massage? While it may seem obvious, a massage is defined as an ancient practice that involves having your body kneaded and manipulated to aid in the alleviation of any pressures in your muscles or joints that you may be experiencing. While massages are normally done by a professional masseuse, a massage can also include rubbing your own sore muscles, using a foam roller, or using a massage gun, such as a Theragun.
To prepare for a massage and maximize the benefits of your experience, it is critical to stay *extra* hydrated for the 24-hour window prior to and following your massage experience. After receiving the massage of your dreams and being absolutely submerged into a state of ultra-relaxation, it’s important to take care of your body to fully maximize the benefits. The best way to soak in all of the massage glory (aside from staying hydrated) is to stretch, eat a nutritious meal, soak in an Epsom salt bath, and release all the toxins from your body by making sure you drink water (and using the bathroom after to get all the bad stuff out).
Additionally, massage therapy is an option for everyone, as most massages are considered safe, and there are no drawbacks. If you have a serious medical condition, make sure to consult your doctor prior to partaking, or ask your doctor for massage therapist recommendations to find someone who can accommodate your needs.
The benefits of massages
Put aside any thoughts that a massage is simply a way to pamper yourself and indulge in a self-care treat: massages can be an influential tool to help you take care of your body and mind by taking control of your well-being and health. Regardless of whether or not you have a specific condition, or you’re just looking for a way to unwind after a long week, here are just a few of the benefits of massages.
1. They alleviate muscle pain
You know that feeling when you wake up the day after a tough workout and you can’t reach your arms up enough to even brush your hair? No? Just me? Regardless, if you have sore muscles (for any reason) massage therapy can be your saving grace. When dealing with either localized or general pain, a massage can be the perfect antidote. By invigorating blood circulation and encouraging tight muscles to ease up, masseuses are able to provide immediate and gradual relief to muscles and those too-tight areas. By treating yourself to regular massages that manage pain, you could eventually end up minimizing your dependence on pain medication for sports injuries, arthritis, or other uncomfortable joint conditions.
2. It counteracts the sitting we do (all day)
It is estimated that upwards of 80 percent of all Americans suffer from back problems as a result of poor posture at some point in their lives. Essentially, most individuals are suffering from some form of postural stress, and more often than not, that stress congregates in the upper body, predominantly the shoulders and the neck. But 9-to-5 office workers beware: more intricate forms of postural stress can express as pain in the lower back and glutes as a result of extended periods of sitting down. That being said, *regular* massages can help to counteract the discomfort that arises from that desk work.
3. It calms anxiety and depression
Although it may sound strange, studies have shown that the human touch aspect of a massage promotes a safe, friendly, and professional environment that soothes the body and alleviates feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, when muscles and joints become stiff and tight, it invokes pain and thus minimizes movements. Massage therapy ultimately works to reduce the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety and depression by promoting blood flow and relaxation.
4. It allows for better sleep.
In addition to fostering restful, deep sleep, massage therapy aids those who struggle to comfortably rest. The tension that we often hold in our necks and back can leave us feeling rigid and tight, making it difficult to sleep peacefully. Via a professional massage, the tension can be released like magic and allow you to catch up on days of lost snooze time. Even more, the alleviation of stress and anxiety in itself promotes restful sleep; specifically, the National Sleep Foundation notes that massage therapy triggers serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that nurtures calm feelings.
5. It plays a role in boosting immunity.
Research shows that scheduling regular massage therapy supports an immune system and flushes toxins out. At this point, almost everything stems back to improved blood flow and circulation. Massage therapy also boosts the activity of white blood cells which helps our bodies fight off diseases and helps to reduce cortisol.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a sign to book that self-care day (or hour) and put your next massage on the calendar, this is it. We all deserve a day full of R&R, and with all the pros that massages have to offer, it seems like this one is a win-win. So grab your significant other for a couples massage or take yourself out on a date! You deserve it.
Written by Morgan Taylor