Studies show massage has greater benefits than you might think



Feeling achy? Stressed? Or just want to give yourself a treat after a long week of work? How often do you get a massage as a means of checking all those boxes? Once a year? Almost never? According to the American Massage Therapy Association, only 18 percent of Americans had a massage during 2014 to 2015. But if you consider the health benefits of massage, this number should be much greater.

Here’s what you may be missing out on, and what you can look forward to by working a massage into your weekly schedule:

  1. Better sleep.

Insomniacs the world over should rejoice. We all know the benefits of sleep are many, but here’s something that will help get us there. Getting a massage can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine. What follows an increase of dopamine is a higher level of melatonin, which is what helps regulate your sleep cycle. This was found during a study done by University of Miami School of Medicine. What happened? Those who received a massage showed an increase in serotonin and improved sleep as a result. Want to see if this works? Ask your partner to give you a massage, or give yourself a gentle neck and shoulder rub. Then snuggle down and get ready to drift off.

  1. Speedier recovery and improved athletic performance.

You see it all the time. Athletes with their coaches, trainers, and their … massage therapists. But there’s a reason for this. Massage has long been believed to speed up muscle healing times. In a study done by McMaster University in Canada, 11 men engaged in harsh aerobic exercise. Afterwards, one leg was massaged, and the other served as the control. Biopsies showed that the messaged leg showed less inflammatory cytokine activity. Inflammatory cytokines are what is experienced as inflammation and pain after a workout. So less cytokine activity means less pain… Which means good news for gym goers everywhere.

  1. Improved mood.

Rotten moods happen to us all. Ever wonder what’s going on in your brain when you’re in the middle of a funk? Or when you’re feeling depressed? Chances are those feel-good chemicals, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are a bit low. Want to know what can increase the levels of those chemicals once again? You guessed it. Massage. In a study conducted by 5 doctors, they found that massage therapy greatly reduced symptoms of depression. Massage is a way of re-leveling the chemicals in your brain toward relaxation and away from stress. But everyone who has ever had a massage can attest to this one.

  1. Relief from tension headaches.

Tension headaches are just about the most common headache out there. And according to the World Health Organization up to 70 percent of some populations are suffering from it. Poor posture, restricted blood flow, missed meals, depression… The list goes on as to what can cause these headaches. So how do massages help? Targeted massage to trigger point areas can help to relieve pain felt at specific parts of the body. Tension headaches can be reduced simply by finding the right part to massage, such as the back of the head, base of the neck, or the forehead.

After reading about all that massages have to offer, don’t let the average cost of a massage therapist put you out. (It’s $60 an hour, not including a tip and gas money to get there.) The good news is that an increasing number of handheld massagers are now available to the public. Don’t have enough dough for weekly visits to a massage therapist? This unique massage tool is the same as having a personal chiropractor session.

The benefits of massage can be yours and the improved quality of life is worth the investment of time and money put in to obtain it. A small investment compared to the benefits of better sleep and pain relief that massage has been proven to provide.