May - Jun 2016

The Health Benefits of Massage

By Pamela Shenk, CHt


Most of us don’t need much of an excuse to get a massage because it feels great. But it’s an extra bonus to know that massage can be healthy for you too.


The medical community is now embracing the health effects of massage and for good reason because research shows that a massage can not only lower stress but improve immunity, fight pain and more. As a matter of fact, most hospitals, wellness centers, physical therapy and sports rehab centers have a massage therapist on staff.


Massage has become a part of complementary and alternative medicine and is increasingly being offered in additional to standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Some studies have also found that massage is beneficial for anxiety, digestive disorders, insomnia, soft tissue strains or injuries, and much more.


It’s also important to note that there are many different types of massage- and they all seem to work in different ways. Swedish massage, for instance, is a gentle form of massage good for relaxation. A deep-tissue massage uses slower and more forceful strokes to target deeper layers of muscle and tissue, thus relieving muscle tension. Sports massage is similar to a Swedish massage, but geared toward people involved in athletic activity to prevent and/or treat an injury. Trigger point massage focuses on a particular area that may feel tight or in pain. To add to that, there are now the hot stone massages. Hot stones are placed on the body while the therapist massages other areas. The heat can be deeply relaxing as well as useful to release tight muscles. Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils that are stress-reducing, relaxing, or energizing with the massage treatment. Shiatsu massage is a Japanese massage, where finger pressure is used on acupuncture points to help heal the body. This technique is most often used by acupuncture physicians.


So, if you are being treated by your physician for some of the conditions listed, you may want to ask him or her if massage would be beneficial. You may be surprised by the health benefits you experience from massage.