Enjoying the finer side of luxury and relaxation is far from the only perk of massage therapy.
The relaxation you consciously feel during a massage is actually also enabling your body to perform a number of beneficial, subconscious "chores" that it may not be able to in your daily life due to stress, anxiety, and/or your busy lifestyle.
This underrated opposite of "fight or flight" is the bodily state often attained during massage. "Rest and digest" is critical to hormone regulation that affects everything from sleep quality and having a healthy immune system to the production of endorphins and a normalized appetite.
Most people will only think about muscles when considering massage, but our skeletons shouldn't be left out. Bones have a blood supply, just like our muscles, and as a result, they also benefit greatly from massage. Move over, milk!
Massage has been in practice for 5,000 years and counting. Techniques traveled across the globe, eventually making it into Egyptian hieroglyphs and ancient Greek and Roman athletics. (Hippocrates was a huge fan.) Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective.
Until modern medicine reaches its boundless ends, it's inevitable that we're all going to age -- but that doesn't necessitate becoming infirm. Massage goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet and regular exercise, keeping us looking and feeling younger for longer. Treating our bodies well shouldn't be considered a luxury.
Licensed massage therapists are required to complete a certain number of educational and practical hours (as determined by their state) before taking their written licensure exam. Anyone can rub anyone's neck and call it a massage, but a good, licensed massage therapist will do their best to tailor your session to your body's specific needs, which requires strong listening skills and a deep working knowledge of muscles, bones, and technique, just to name a few.
Proven health benefits of massage include stress reduction, improved muscle recovery, better blood circulation (and therefore effects like healthier skin and a sharper mind), and improved immune function.
Although the medical world is constantly studying methods of care to determine what can be officially constituted as a "rule" rather than a "maybe," many more benefits are reported by a huge chunk of massage recipients (myself included!). - These include things like headache relief, mitigation of chronic pain, anxiety reduction, better sleep, and alleviation of TMJ disorder symptoms. Many practicing massage therapists see these benefits in their clients often and would likely argue them to be indisputably true, whether Western medicine has made its decisions yet or not.
While it won't come up naturally in many conversations, massage therapy can even help with issues like constipation. But don't worry! This treatment requires a specific technique that won't typically be performed unless expressly discussed.
Due to the effects of massage on the body, some individuals do need to avoid receiving massage. If you have a bleeding disorder or are on blood-thinners; if you have deep vein thrombosis; if you have an infection or are ill; if you have healing burns, wounds, or broken bones; if you have pitting edema; or if you have severe osteoporosis, talk to your doctor before booking a massage.
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