You know a good massage takes the kinks out after a long day. But massage’s reputation as a luxury may be keeping you from relishing in the many mental and physical massage benefits. Here are five good reasons to prioritize massages in your everyday life.
Fight Back Against Desk Body
Do you sit at a computer or a desk all day? If you do, chances are your body suffers from some postural stress. Sitting all day keeps your legs in one basic position, so your hamstrings tighten and your back compresses. Likewise, hunching over your keyboard causes neck and shoulder strain. Even if you aren’t at a desk, you get a lot of the same negative impacts from looking down at a smartphone for prolonged periods.
Massage combats these effects. An active massage such as Thai massage stretches your muscles and opens you up your whole body. Hand massage concentrates on releasing the stress of typing or texting all day, and even a chair massage relieves the pressure in your upper body. Can’t make it to the spa regularly? An at-home percussion massager can make a real difference in releasing tense muscles.
Calm Muscle Pain from Exercise
Whether you’re putting in major work at the gym or a large part of your work is physical labor, your muscles benefit from the circulation-stimulating effects of massage. Regular exercisers who get massages consistently report less soreness after workouts, even when the participants just used a foam roller on their legs for 10 minutes. Massage also improves your flexibility by letting go of the tension, especially in your core and neck, that prevents you from settling deep into stretches. So even if you already have a healthy body, massage helps you get even healthier.
Support Your Immune System
On top of improving your circulation, a Swedish massage, which specifically targets blood flow from your extremities toward your heart, actually encourages your body to create more blood proteins. These proteins are major players in your body’s ability to fend off pathogens, tumors and viral infections. Likewise, studies show massage improves your white blood cell count, which is vital for fending off disease. For a holistic approach, talk to a massage therapist about how essential oils and aromatherapy can complement this effect.
Ease Depression and Anxiety
While massage’s benefits physically are somewhat evident, its part in maintaining a healthy mind is equally valuable. Human touch in a safe setting such as a professional massage releases oxytocin after just 15 minutes of therapy. Studies show that women who had breast cancer and got massages three times per week were less likely than their non-massage counterparts to experience anger and depression.
If you’re just feeling a bit down, a massage can help with that, too. It’s an excellent mood regulator. It raises your dopamine levels, which correlate to arousal, motivation and reward, by 31 percent. It also increases happiness-inducing serotonin by more than a quarter. Of course, massage also drops the effects of stress on the body, including the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
Get Your Zzzzs
Massage’s impact on sleep is twofold. First, relaxing your muscles and soothing other pains in your body helps you rest better. Second, if you have insomnia from feeling stressed out or depressed, massage contributes to lessening those feelings and just might help you fall asleep. Even babies sleep better and don’t cry as much if they receive massages.
Getting a massage benefits you in many more ways than simply indulging in a moment of peace. Invest in a regular massage routine to support a healthy mind and body, and you’ll reap the rewards of regulated hormones and flexible muscles. You deserve it.