Massage Therapy: Self-Care or a Luxury?
How do you view massage therapy? Should it be treated as a rare indulgence or luxury or does it offer valuable health benefits? It seems there is a widespread misconception that massage should be a guilty pleasure, or a “treat” that should only be indulged in every once in a great while. In reality, massage therapy has countless benefits in addition to relaxation and feeling good.
Massage Is Not a Luxury
Lots of people, especially women, tend to feel guilty about taking time out to look after themselves. Sometimes, other people can try to make you feel as if indulging yourself in a massage is a waste of time and money. Your well-being is important, and self-care plays a vital role. Even if you’re a busy parent, worker, or caregiver, it is imperative to take time to do something good for yourself because if you’re depleted and exhausted, you’ll have no energy to do anything for the important people in your life who need you. Regular massage therapy should be a vital component of your self-care regimen, in addition to adequate sleep, regular exercise, good nutrition and supplementation, and other healthy lifestyle choices. Just as it is important to take good care of your vehicle with regular gas fill-ups, car washes, oil changes, and other maintenance in order to ensure smooth operation and performance, it is just as relevant to take care of you, in order to keep you healthy and prevent a condition from progressing.
According to the Touch Research Institute, which has carried out over 100 studies on massage and its many benefits, massage therapy has been proven to help treat the symptoms of conditions as diverse as depression, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and MS. Even if you’re not managing a particular health condition, you still need massage in your life. It can help keep your joints and muscles supple so you’re less prone to injury. It’s great for dealing with stress—even if you’re not actually depressed—and improves immunity and sleep, making you more present and productive at work. Massage also plays a large part in injury and disease prevention.
Massage for Stress and Sleep
It is widely known that living with high levels of stress for a prolonged period of time can be responsible for many physical and mental conditions, such as muscle tension (especially in the back, neck, and shoulders), headaches, insomnia, and even heart disease. Regular massage therapy sessions help to lower your body’s cortisol levels and increase serotonin and dopamine, resulting in relaxation and a positive mood. Research has demonstrated that massage can be helpful in reducing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In particular, Swedish massage and hot stone/Himalayan salt stone massage are very effective. MediCupping™ also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby resulting in relaxation.
Massage therapy also helps to combat insomnia by helping to boost serotonin levels, which have been proven to improve sleep. Deep tissue and Swedish massage have been proven to support the lymphatic system, which is your body’s defense system against illness. Research suggests that receiving regular massage increases white blood cell count, thereby strengthening your immune system.
Massage for Muscles and Joints
There is a saying that “sitting is the new smoking,” and the average American sits still for eight or nine hours every day. In addition to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and shortening your lifespan, excessive sitting creates even more problems. Cornell University researchers discovered that up to 90% more pressure is applied to your lower back when you sit versus when you stand. If your job means that you have no choice but to sit at the wheel or a desk, it will pull your shoulders forward and cause them to become rounded. This has the effect of weakening your upper and lower back muscles, which is why you’ll be feeling that pain in your upper body. The direct muscular effects of sitting for prolonged periods are shoulder, neck, and jaw tightness, which can lead to headaches, nerve impingements, and sciatica. Your back, legs, and hips are greatly affected by that stationary position, as well.
Massage therapy, in particular deep tissue massage, targets the affected muscles to relieve tension and pain. Cupping and MediCupping™ also provide a myofascial release, resulting in the release of tight areas and muscle “knots.” Regular massage can be part of your preventative therapy as a way to stop aches and pains from developing into anything more serious. Other conditions that respond very well to massage are headaches, TMJ disorder, fibromyalgia, and plantar fasciitis, as well as some digestive issues.
Massage Regularly for Self-Care
How often should you get a massage? That depends. For general relaxation or minor aches and pains, at least once-per-month sessions are typically recommended. For someone who regularly feels stressed, who sits or drives all day for work, or who is managing a chronic pain condition, sessions are recommended once a week or twice per month. Muscle knots do not develop overnight, so it should not be expected that they will be eradicated in just a few sessions. It is important that your massage therapist discusses their recommendations for your individual situation with you, in terms of frequency of massage sessions and type of massage.
Receiving regular massage can be an important part of your self-care and help prevent certain health conditions from progressing. And in the long run, it could save you money on doctor’s visits, pain medication, or even surgery. Feeling better—both mentally and physically, improving sleep quality and immunity, and living with decreased pain—is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
Kristina Mozzicato is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Board Certified by NCBTMB. She is a 2009 graduate of the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. Kristina is also certified in Cupping and ACE MediCupping™. Kristina is the owner of Abundant Health Massage Therapy & Wellness in Farmington, CT and was named a Natural Nutmeg Magazine 10Best Award recipient in the category of Massage and Bodywork.
For more information and convenient online booking, please visit: abundanthealthct.com or call 860.778.0315.