Health Benefits of Massage
More than an indulgence, massage therapy can help you sleep better, boost your immune system and reduce aches and pains.
Massage therapy has been used as a therapeutic measure for generations, and across cultures around the world. Although different types of massage techniques are designed to target specific areas, dysfunctions, and promote natural healing processes, there are some distinctive benefits that can be received from regular massage. Physical benefits range from improved circulation, lower stress levels, and increased flexibility in tense muscles. Mental benefits include a calm mind, increased awareness, better focus and concentration, and increased alertness. Here are eleven physical and mental health benefits of massage.
Promotes deeper breathing
-deep breathing is vital to ensure that oxygen circulates easily throughout your body, and encourages healing and growth in the process. Decreased oxygen circulation results in headaches, tension aches, and random muscle pain that can accumulate into a significant problem over time. By enhancing your oxygen intake, you will naturally promote the release of toxins and negative energy within the body.
-although massage should never be used as a replacement for a chiropractic diagnosis, posture can slowly and naturally improve as the spine and muscles around the spine become more flexible and supple. Improved posture also aids in breathing and less tension throughout the body.
-an improvement in both blood and lymph circulation helps your body gain strength and maximizes your energy level. Especially during the winter months when circulation and metabolisms may be slower, massage can help in removing toxins in the blood and encouraging fresh energy to circulate easily. Efficient circulation also helps in muscle recovery, growth, and promotes the natural healing process.
Enhances skin tone and skin health
-when using high-quality oils and creams, massage therapists can significantly improve the tone and health of your skin after just a few massage sessions. Skin cells are revitalized, moisturized, and replenished naturally. Choose Vitamin E and natural grape seed oil bases for maximum benefits.
Increases and promotes joint flexibility
-repetitive stress or overused joints can stunt growth and create problems later. Massage helps to relieve stored tension and encourages flexibility of the joints after rest. Any soreness experienced after a massage can be indication that these are tension spots for you, and focusing on these areas on your next massage will increase joint recovery. There are even some special oil formulations to target joints, so do check with your massage therapist beforehand to discuss options.
Enhances a calm mind
-encouraging a calm mind creates an avenue for creativity; it is during these times that our minds are most conducive to creative thinking, developing plans, organizing thoughts, and reducing stressful thoughts. Massage can encourage this state of mind by relaxing the entire body.
-as a natural deep relaxant, a successful massage can significantly reduce anxiety. Usually, anxiety is stored in some key areas of the body; the lower back, shoulders, abdomen, and neck. By relieving these areas of tension, the mind can ‘let go’ of anxiety and experience a light, almost freeing sensation.
-the mind-body connection is often overlooked in today’s fast-paced society. From the minute you wake up, to the moment you go to bed, it is easy to slip into ‘mind-only’ mode. When you re-establish the connection with your body, you will experience greater ease of movement, a more centered feeling, and an enhanced feeling of well-being.
Promotes mental alertness
-although a massage can bring you into a state of deep relaxation, this is also a state of heightened mental alertness. Your mind is relaxed and calm, but acutely aware and in this state, capable of solving even the toughest problems!
Increases peace of mind
-with your ability to feel relaxed and naturally aware, peace of mind becomes a necessary result. Peace of mind can be defined as a sense of calm well-being and just feeling good naturally.
Satisfies need for human touch
-as human beings, we all need to feel the touch of another human being. This can range from a simple hug, handshake, or a nurturing touch. A massage encourages this type of connection and increases your appreciation for this human need.
What is massage?
Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage, but may also use their forearms, and even elbows. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure.
There are many different types of massage. At Neighborhood Acupuncture and Healing Arts we offer:
Massage is used in the working of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. Massage involves working and acting on the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system.
Hot Stone Massage
The rejuvenating properties of hot stones for healing dates back to ancient times, promoting deeper muscle relaxation through the use of smooth, water-heated stones at key points on the body. The warmth of the hot stones is comforting and relaxing and allows the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure. The hot stones also expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. The hot stones have a sedative effect that help relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
Prenatal massage shares many of the goals of regular massage — to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and to ease stress. But it’s also tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies.
Massage therapy during pregnancy, improves overall health and eases many discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as back and pelvic pain. While the increased circulation, helps reduce swelling.
Carrying a baby changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes your ligaments, so that your pelvic joints are less stable, and changes your posture, pulling your pelvis forward. Add to that the extra weight you’re carrying and you’ve got yourself an aching lower back. Massage alleviates pelvic pressure, eases back pain, reduces swelling, improves breathing and reduces muscle tension and fatigue.
Tui na is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy often used in conjunction with acupuncture, fire cupping, Chinese herbalism and qigong. It is a hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese principles in an attempt to bring into balance the eight principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practitioner may brush, knead, roll/press and rub the areas between each of the joints (known as the eight gates) to open the body’s defensive (wei) chi and get the energy moving in the meridians as well as the muscles. The practitioner can then use range of motion, traction, massage, with the stimulation of acupressure points; this is known to treat both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using fire. The air inside the cup is heated and the rim is then applied to the skin, forming an airtight seal. As the air inside the cup cools, it contracts, forming a partial vacuum and enabling the cup to suck the skin, pulling in soft tissue, and drawing blood to that area. It can leave temporary bruised marks on the skin.
Gua Sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edge. Commonly a ceramic Chinese soup spoon. The smooth edge is placed against the pre-oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, along the surface of the skin, with each stroke being about 4-6 inches long.
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