Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Real Benefits of Massage

The Real Benefits of Massage 


Massage has often been regarded as a 'treat', something we only indulge in when visiting a spa or going on holiday. So why is it something that more people are turning to on a monthly basis? 

Before I trained to be a Beauty Therapist, I'd only ever had 3 massages in my whole life; two were paid for as birthday treats and the other was at a spa when celebrating a special occasion. Now I can't imagine going a month without having a massage. Probably because I'm much more aware of the benefits, but also because the more I have them the truly better I feel. I've been doing lots of research about the growing trend in regular massages and here's why:

1. Lowers Stress and Anxiety 
It's true, massage lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, it releases endorphins and also relaxes the body and mind which in turn reduces stress. Relaxing massage can have a  sedative effect that makes us feel calm (which is especially beneficially for those with sleeping difficulties). Amazing eh, especially when stress is a major contributing factor to the top leading causes of death! 
Research shows that as little as 30 minutes massage per month can have a real positive impact on mental health. However, lets be realistic massage isn't going to get rid of all your stress - you need to look at all aspects of your life and incorporate massage as a regular activity, not just special occasions!

2. Reduces Muscle Tension, Muscle Soreness, Aches & Pains
During a massage, muscles, tissues and joints are manipulated, stretched, pressed and stroked. These specialist movements reduce stiffness and improve physical function. There is also a release of serotonin which is the body's natural production of anti-pain chemicals. 
I once saw a client who suffered from chronic migraines and neck pain, and he actually had a headache when he arrived for his massage. I performed a 30 minute scalp massage and at the end he was almost in tears with the relief. At the time I was genuinely shocked because I didn't even realise that massage could be that powerful. 

Another benefit is relieving tension and 'knots' - this is my main reason for getting a regular massage. Tension in the back and shoulders only gets worse over time, so it's important that we take care of our body and fix the problems that we cause ourself. I'm guilty of having bad posture, sitting at my computer for too long, carrying heavy bags, not stretching after exercising etc etc. - all of which puts our muscles under a lot of strain. Massage can relax these muscle and push out any toxins that can cause tightness. 

3. Improves Skin Tone
Firstly lets state the obvious - putting oils or creams on to the body will improve the look and feel of your skin. Massage can do wonders if you have dry or sun-damaged skin, especially when body brushing is also involved in the treatment. 
That's great but now to the not so obvious stuff: 
Stimulating massage movements do help to move stagnant fatty deposits which can smooth out the look of cellulite. Again, this doesn't happen over night - regular massage is required. As muscle tone can also be improved by stimulating inherent reflexes within muscle fibres, this also has a positive effect on how you look. 

4. Boosts Immune Function & Circulation
Ok let me explain. Massage helps move Lymph (waste) from the tissues and back to the heart where it can be filtered. By doing this we are removing toxins and increasing the bodys ability to fight infection. It can alleviate sinus congestion, water retention and inflammation, as well as generally making us feel good and uplifted. The increased circulation and the lymphatic drainage together boosts the way that our body works - we are helping all of our organs work better (which is why you often need to pee after a massage!). If you're ever feeling tired, sluggish, or even jet-lagged, massage is a great way to get the body (and mind) working effectively.

5. Makes Us Feel Good
Massage is not just about the body, but also the mind and our consciousness. During a massage the mind quietens and we're aware of what's happen in the now - this mindfulness causes us to be less reactive and remain engaged in the current experience. 
A therapists touch alone can cause an immediate reaction in the brain that decreases adrenaline and increases feel good hormones. 

This is why I'm passionate about massage and why I love performing massage, and having one myself!