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INTEROCEPTION

Benefits of Massage

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Serenity Float and Massage Team

14 April 2019

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Massages are generally viewed as a wonderful form of self care, for relaxation and aches and pains. However, there are more incredible, lesser-known benefits to massage as well, making them not only lovely to receive but immensely beneficial to many systems of the body.

Massage therapy has been used in the East for millennia as a well known physical therapy to facilitate healing of many ailments, and almost every culture has developed systems of therapeutic massage. Today it is increasing in popularity in Western medicine as a valuable tool for assisting recovery and maintaining good health. In fact, demand for massage is at an all time high worldwide!

Massage can be used as a preventative practice – keeping your muscles supple and your immune system strong- and can also be used as a recovery tool. Massage promotes balance, maintains internal and external wellness, and can be used to stimulate many of the bodies natural healing responses. In what ways does it contribute to total wellness, you ask?

The following will outline some of the lesser known benefits of massage therapy.

  • Neurohormonal effects
  • Physical effects
  • Immune system

Neurohormonal effects

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Caring, flowing and intuitive, a Swedish massage will encourage calmness and feelings of “wholeness”, as physical touch stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good hormones. In fact, many of the benefits of massage can be related back to the body production and regulation of neurohormones. Simply described as mood enhancing, research from the University of Miami revealed massage increases availability of all neurohormones affecting brain chemistry. This enhancement can lead to improved intuition, inspiration, joy, and enthusiasm, as well as natural regulation of cravings, mood, and sleep cycle.

Even a 15 minute massage has a major impact, and depending on technique, can either stimulate the sympathetic nervous system to improve alertness and focus, or by using deeper and slower techniques, can reduce epinephrine (adrenaline) levels, creating a feeling of relaxation and facilitating quality sleep.

Oxytocin is another neurohormone produced by massage, which is valuable in supporting feelings of deep connection especially for those pregnant, birthing or lactating, making it a wonderful tool for mothers and mothers-to-be.

This enhancement can lead to improved intuition, inspiration, joy, and enthusiasm, as well as natural regulation of cravings, mood, and sleep cycle.

Physical effects

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Longterm effects of massage include improved circulation, and the importance of this is profound. The circulatory system keeps us running, bringing a fresh source of blood supply to damaged, stiff or achy muscles. The pressure and sequences of massage are designed to keep blood flowing through congested or damaged areas of the body. Alongside blood circulation, massage encourages lymph fluid circulation which moves metabolic waste away from internal organs and muscles, lowering blood pressure and improving overall body function.

Massage is wonderful for posture, which in most peoples cases nowadays is heavily impacted, especially in the shoulder, neck, and back, as a result of a lot of desk work or repetitive strain. Because the detrimental impacts of poor posture will continue to worsen over time leading to chronic painful conditions, the posture improving aspects of massage are amongst the most important. Regular massage will help get the body back into proper alignment, relaxing and loosening muscle and fascia, allowing release back into organic, pain-free posture.

Immune system

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Many of us now are experiencing some kind of stress or anxiety, which has a suppressing effect on our immune system. This results in dramatically reduced ability to protect the body from infections, pathogens and bacteria. By utilising massage, stress is not only reduced, but the immune systems cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of “Natural Killer” cells) is notably boosted, enhancing the bodies tolerance and protection against foreign invaders which lead to sickness.

Regular massage is fast being acknowledged as a valuable tool for prevention of chronic ailments, as well and tension and improvement of daily life on mental, physical, and energetic levels. Please consider massage as a front-line preventative and maintenance therapy, and enjoy the many benefits of regular massage.

 

References:

 

Haugh, L. (2015). 7 Benefits of Massage Therapy. Retrieved from https://guardianlv.com/2015/09/7-benefits-of-massage-therapy/

 

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/11/08/neurohormonal-effects-massage-therapy

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