Most people think of massage as something they get when they want to feel pampered or else something that helps reduce pain. However, not everyone realizes that scheduling regular massages can actually help you to live a healthier life. Here are just some ways that massage helps you stay well, or increases wellness.
Long term stress can have many negative effects on your health. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, and even anxiety attacks all which can affect your health and lower your quality of life. However, massage is known to help relieve stress not only by relaxing those knotted painful muscles and making it easy to get some restful sleep, but also simply by allowing your body and in turn your mind to relax relieving some of that constant stress.
When people feel stressed their blood vessel narrow, which often leads to headaches, and muscle aches. In addition, many people feel anxious when they are stressed and overeat trying to overcome the anxiety and depression they feel which can lead to obesity and further increase your risk of high blood pressure.
However, a massage improves circulation and gets that oxygen carrying blood to flow through your veins bringing with it not only a reduction in tense muscles, but helping to relax the entire body and bring about feeling of well being. Many people have reported not feeling stressed for hours or even a days after a massage, and the less stressed you feel the less that stress is going to impact your eating and your health.
In addition to relieving stress, a massage actually enhances energy and the more energy the have the more likely it is that you will want to be active and get in some exercise which has health benefits all it’s on. So getting a good massage, can actually help you to have the energy to do what you need to do to increase fitness levels and the fitter you are the more healthy you are.
Increases Flexibility and Range of Motion
People who suffer from arthritis and other joint problems often live in pain and become less active simply because movement is difficult and often painful. Massages can do a great deal to help people with arthritis live a more active lifestyle in a number of ways. First by improving circulation, a massage may help to reduce some of the inflammation around those affected joints thus reducing the pain and simply making the arthritic person feel better general. Second, regular massage can help the arthritic patient to achieve greater flexibility and more range of motion will allow them do more things which will also make them feel better in general. The increased activity will also help them to stay more fit and simply enjoy life more.
While getting a regular massage may not cure your problems, or make you healthy in and of itself, it can provide you with many benefits that if taken advantage of can lead you to living a healthier life both now and in the future.
Therapeutic Benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage
Most people know about Swedish massage, deep tissue, or sports massage and the therapeutic effects they have on the body and mind. However, many people are not aware of another type of massage that has the power of releasing toxins from your body – manual lymphatic drainage.
Lymphatic drainage is a gentle form of massage, focusing mainly on the skin, which stimulates the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system, which removes bodily toxins and waste, and helps fight infection.
The lymphatic system is an extensive network of vessels that carry lymph – a clear, watery fluid that contains nutrients throughout the body. This system keeps the body in balance and helps defend the body against infections.
Lymph fluid flows through the lymph nodes, and act as filters as they trap anything harmful that the body does not need. This includes bacteria, viruses, and damaged cells. We all have experienced swollen lymph glands. This happens because when bacteria or other threats to the immune system appear, our lymph nodes produce more white blood cells, which causes them to swell. Swollen lymph glands mean the body is doing its job of fighting off infection. On average, we have between 400-700 lymph nodes.
The lymphatic system has no pump to move lymph through our bodies. It relies on regular body movement (exercise) and breathing to move lymph through our bodies and to our lymph nodes. That is why people who do not exercise regularly or are too sedentary, or who eat too many processed foods may have lymphatic systems that are working improperly. With compromised lymphatic systems, people become more susceptible to infection and disease. Have you known people who always seem to get sick? By stimulating the lymph nodes manually through massage, these blockages are cleared and their lymphatic systems get a boost to help it run more smoothly and more effectively.
What to expect
Lymphatic drainage is a specialized hand technique that consists of very gentle and rhythmic movements. Each stroke gently and slightly moves the skin in the direction that lymph flows. The goal of manual lymphatic drainage is to encourage the drainage of your body’s waste and toxins. Because it is so gentle, it is very relaxing and soothing. After your lymphatic drainage massage, it is important to drink plenty of water, and to avoid too much salt and any alcohol.
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Detox: Manual Lymphatic Drainage can help detox the body from too many starchy foods, or from not getting enough rest, or from not getting enough exercise.
Headache: Many headaches are the result of sinusitis. This congestion responds well to lymphatic drainage. Once the tissues are decongested, blocked fluid and circulation improve, which reduces pain and discomfort.
Promote healing: After surgery or injury, our tissues are swollen and sore. Lymphatic drainage will help drain the tissues, reducing inflammation and improving healing at the same time.
Reduce swelling: After long periods of not moving, such as air travel, fluid tends to stagnate in the tissues, making them puffy and tender. This puffiness and tenderness responds well to manual lymphatic drainage.
Reduces scar tissue: Manual lymphatic drainage helps tissues regenerate to reduce scarring after surgical incision sites.
Whatever the cause of lower back pain, there are a variety of ways to help manage the pain and discomfort. Low back pain is often caused by lifting something heavy, bending the wrong way, or by week core muscles. Here are a few options to do at home to ease the discomfort and pain.
Ice or Heat
Clients often ask if they should use ice or heat to treat their injuries. The general rule of thumb is in the first 24-48 hours to use ice. Ice helps with inflammation and accelerates the healing process. Try to avoid using heat at this point, as heat can increase inflammation this close to the onset of the injury. After the first 48 hours, heat or a combination of heat and cold (contrast therapy) can be used to relax your sore muscles. When using ice, it’s important not to use more than 20 minutes.
Movement helps keep the body healthy, including times of injury. So, continue with your day-to-day activities and keep the body moving. If your regular routine is too painful, exercise in the pool.
Strengthening the muscles of the low back and of your core will help avert future injuries and flare-ups from reoccurring. Making these muscles stronger have the added benefit of helping your posture and encouraging proper alignment of your spine. Having strong abdominal, pelvic, and hip muscles will also help to support your back.
Create a work space that is designed ergonomically, to avoid sitting hunched over to use the computer or stretching to use the mouse. Your chair should ideally give you enough support for your lower back area, while allowing your feet to comfortably reach the floor. Otherwise, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on your back. Be sure to get up every now and then to stretch and to avoid staying in a slumped position for extended periods of time. Also, if you feel particularly stiff or sore after a day of work, incorporate regular stretching or yoga routines to ease your back pain.
It’s probably no surprise that I’ll recommend not smoking, as it’s well known that smoking can cause a long list of health related issues, including the risk of osteoporosis. By increasing the risk of osteoporosis, you are also increasing the risk of compression fractures in the spine. Non-smokers are less likely to have low back pain, compared to regular smokers.
Massage provides very tangible physical benefits. It is deeply stress-relieving and gives people a sense of “True Relaxation.” The benefits are many to many different people. But in every case, the therapeutic benefits of a massage are valuable, meaningful, relaxing and even curative! Massage is a manual therapy that manipulates the soft tissues and decreases muscle tension, pain, stress and depression.
The simple act of placing the hands on the body can itself encourage a person to thrive. Many studies have illustrated that without physical touch; babies (human or animal) will not thrive and may not even survive. Touch also has a positive effect on caregivers. For example, mothers who regularly have a great deal of physical closeness with their babies experience postpartum depression to a far lesser degree, and elderly caregivers feel a decrease in stress, anxiety and depression when they touch and are touched.
Massage therapy offers an avenue for balancing the stress of everyday life. Our bodies reflect our inner state of mind. So if someone feels overwhelmed and taxed, the muscles may be tense, sore, or stiff. Likewise, the physical state affects the mental state. Being in discomfort or pain, makes a person, prone to more negative thought patterns, and anxiety.
Acupressure massage therapy is a form which involves pressing particular points in the body which affect different organs of the body. Several different kinds of acupressure are currently practiced, although the same ancient trigger points are used in all of them. Varying rhythms, pressures, and techniques create different styles of acupressure, just as different forms of music use the same notes but combine them in distinctive ways.
Massage therapy, if properly done:
• Increases circulation;
• Enhances the immune system;
• Promotes nervous system functioning;
• Reduces blood pressure;
• Relieves pain and muscle tension;
• Improves mood, intellectual reasoning and job performance;
• Positive effect on conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes and migraine headaches.
Depending on the technique used, massage therapy can also:
• Stimulate the nervous system to help reduce muscle atrophy;
• Increase muscle tone;
• Stimulate the functions of the skin or an organ deep inside the body;
• Sedate the nervous system to help ease muscle tension, spasticity, stress-related symptoms and headaches;
• Boost the functioning of the immune system and maintains health when done regularly;
• Stimulate sluggish circulation or slow down the circulation of someone who has just run a marathon when using friction massage techniques;
• Allow better range of motion and support the connective tissue and muscles in becoming strong and healthy when doing simple joint movements and joint stretching.
The health benefits are enormous, hence to infer it can easily be said the Massage Therapy not only helps treating body ache, stress and several other ailments, it is also the best way to be rejuvenated.
Massage and Neck Pain
For people with chronic tightness and soreness in their neck and shoulders, massage therapy can provide relief. I find in my practice that many people carry stress and tension between their shoulder blades. When stressed, it’s common for us to contract our shoulders. Sometimes clients describe their shoulders as moving towards their ears. This gets worse by more stress, or improper posture. Driving or sitting for long times at the computer can also aggravate neck and shoulder pain.
Muscle and Scar Tissue Pain
People often describe knots as the source of their pain. If you’ve had a particular hard week at work or home, these knots begin to get tighter and cause more pain. This muscle pain begins to radiate from the knots to the head or shoulder. This tightness sometimes goes down their back, or into the lower body.
These knots cause the muscles to get shorter than normal, which eventually puts stress on joints. These shortened muscles start to pull on the joints, putting stress on them. These shortened muscles and stressed joints change normal movements, which aggravates and injures joints. Many tension headaches and migraine headaches develop this way.
Massage Therapy Decreases Neck & Shoulder Pain
Massage therapy is effective in decreasing the size of these knots, and prevents it from getting worse, and from affecting more parts of your body. Massage breaks up these adhesions and scar tissue. This is why massage therapy is recommended to treat muscle pain, neck pain, and back pain.
These knots if left untreated, can affect how the scapula moves. A good massage therapist will work on increasing the range of motion of the scapula, and will work on the adhesions under the scapula. A good massage therapist will also address your chest muscles, as they are often being pulled as a result of the tension on the front of the body.
Massage therapy is an effective and safe treatment for neck and shoulder pain. Massage helps to break up adhesions and scar tissue that has accumulated from daily stress and strain. Many people feel the benefits of massage in one or two sessions. Often, headaches are alleviated during the session.