The Beneficial Effects Of Massage
By Laura Stonehouse - Massage Therapist
Recent research is encouraging a fresh approach on how we view the benefits of massage to the point that it could become part of a number of prescribed strategies to treat patients within the NHS itself. According to a report by the British Beauty Council produced in early 2021, massage therapy could reduce sick days by 1.76 million. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy commissioned the Report after the phenomenon was brought to their attention. Key findings of the Report demonstrate that touch therapy as well as massage can have a significant effect on reducing mental health problems. Mental ill-health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, contributing up to 22.8% of the total burden compared to 15.9% for cancer.
So what are the benefits of massage and how can it support both the body and the mind? First of all, as within the first few minutes your mind will be (and should be) in a state of total relaxation (stress relief), your body is becoming active and in a state of recovery and renewal. A massage stimulates the nervous system, wakes up your muscles, organs and glands, encourages blood and lymph circulation and increases the production of chemicals and hormones. In short, massage helps the body to renew itself and reverse the effects of stress. Massage and touch therapies can help manage back, neck and shoulder pain, support fatigue, osteoarthritis, cancer symptoms and fibromyalgia – and this list is not exhaustive.
Let’s explore the benefits even further. The first moments of a massage will involve a series of deep inhalations; controlled, deep breathing is one of the first strategies in stress relief, and anxiety management. Those first few moments are signals to your mind and your body that it is a safe place to rest and recover. As you relax your nervous system goes into recovery mode as well and for those areas of pain and tension on the nerves from tight muscles, there is relief. This in turn reduces the production of stress hormones and increases the presence of endorphins – you feel happier, you begin to feel better in yourself. Your body and your mind rebalance, you will generally sleep well after a massage. Hormones that regulate sleep/ wake cycle, menstrual cycles, immune cells, blood sugar and even your appetite will perform better as the body and the mind find much needed relaxation.
As we are searching for much needed moments in our day from the stress and pressure of everyday life, this is one moment, one treatment in fact, that no should no longer be seen as an indulgent luxury but as a necessary element in our self care.
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