The popular view is that massage is only for pampering purposes, not for health and, therefore, that it’s a luxury that few can afford on a regular basis.
However, massage has been around for centuries as a therapeutic process which increases mental and physical health and promotes positive aging.
According to Antiagingsavantess recent studies have shown that massage therapy can provide us with much more than just a temporary feel-good effect.
These studies show, using massage, we are increasing our overall psychological feeling of wellness. We are also, via its physiological benefits, preventing ailments that tend to occur as a result of aging. Massage Therapy should, therefore, be considered Anti-Aging.
1) Massage can decrease stress response and its health related issues:
We are all well aware that stress is a major aging factor and health risk. Reducing the stress we experience is of the utmost importance to our quality of life and the rate at which age takes its toll on our appearance. Massage can help!
Studies reported in the Intensive and Critical Care Nursing Journal that during the five minute foot massage, critically ill patients experienced decrease heart rate, blood pressure and respirations.
Antiagingsavantess reports that this evidence was used to make conclusions that massage induced relaxation resulted in physiological health benefits. Another long term study showed that massage programs can decrease blood pressure and cortisol stress hormone levels, improving cardiovascular health and decreasing anxiety and depression.
How massage promotes health and anti-aging:
- Decrease cortisol and insulin levels while increasing calming serotonin and dopamine: see above.
- Encourages oxytocin release: Oxytocin is a stress reducing, bonding hormone most famous for its role in birthing. It helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system to slow down heart rate and breathing, relax musculature and improve digestion.
- Increases endorphin release: Endorphins are pain reducing neurotransmitters. Anxiety created by stress can cause increase sensitivity to pain. Endorphins help stop transmission of pain signals.
- Decrease Beta Brainwave activity: This leads to increase stimulated release of relaxing neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine as well as decreased release of cortisol levels.
- Stimulates Delta Brainwave activity: This type of brain activity is one which facilitates deep sleep induction….explaining the natural tendency to dose off during your session!
2) Massage Therapy improves circulation:
Massage works on your circulatory system. Your circulatory system is comprised of your lymphatic system and your cardiovascular system.
Your lymphatic system plays an important role in waste removal and in aiding an efficient immune system response. The waste it removes includes excess fluid, pathogens, dead blood cells, toxins and cells implicated in cancer. It assists immune function by distributing immune cells throughout the body to help filter out and protect against harmful agents.
An efficient lymphatic circulation mean rapid defense against infection and cleaner blood and tissues. A person with poor lymphatic system circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pain, pooling of the fluid in the extremities (arms and legs), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness. Massage can help improve lymphatic circulation system and prevent toxic waste accumulation causing these symptoms and improve overall health.
Our cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating blood and therefore distributing oxygen and nutrients to all tissues. As we age the cardiovascular system declines due to buildup of plaque, reduced elasticity of vasculature (vessels loose ability to dilate and contract due to loss of collagen, elastin and plaque) and stress (receptors become less responsive due to over stimulation, resulting in high blood pressure and poor circulation to various tissues).
Massage may not be able to control your cholesterol level but can help decrease stress on cardiovascular system and improve vessel health by improving overall tissue nutrition. Seeing that cardiovascular disease is a strong risk factor for premature death, (heart disease is still number one cause of death in most developed countries), a natural way to help decrease influencing contributors should be put into practice.
3) Massage Therapy boosts your immunity:
In a study conducted by Gail Ironson, M.D., HIV positive men responded to regular massage by increasing cellular immune profile, increasing blood serotonin levels, and improving overall effectiveness in fighting disease.
Another report in the Journal of Complementary Medicine in 2010 reported an increase in these immune cells following massage therapy 3 times a week for 30 minutes in women with breast cancer. In addition to improved health and disease fighting ability, these patients also reported less depressed mood, anxiety and pain after their sessions.
Additionally, a report in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2010 showed that leg massage promoted and reinforced the immune system by increasing the secretion of peptides which aid in fighting bacteria.
By Improving lymphatic circulation
- By improving the lymphatic circulatory system, we improve the immune response through better blood filtration and getting more lymphocyte exposure to where these pathogens or tumor cells might be brewing.
By increasing immune systems cytotoxic capacity
- Massage has shown to naturally improve the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity by increasing the Natural Killer cells (a type of WBC or lymphocyte that has large role in our immune response and releases cytotoxic granules to fight viruses and tumor cells).
By decreasing circulating levels of cortisol and insulin and increasing serotonin and peptides.
- Since both cortisol and insulin are linked with impaired immune function, massage can also help immunity by controlling levels of these stress hormones.
- Serotonin releases and bacteria fighting peptides have been linked to improved immunity.
4) Prevents Muscular Strain.
Both muscular strain and bad skeletal alignment can contribute to back pain. Any natural treatment which can help treat pain in general without the use of aggressive and dangerous medical interventions (medications, injections, surgery), needs to be considered. Massage therapy is an ideal preventative and alternative therapy for musculoskeletal issues.
A study published in Science Translational Medicine in 2012 reported a short 10 minutes massage helped reduce inflammation post workout quickly. This allowed athletes to recover in a much shorter time period and perform more efficiently in their next session.
An additional note about massage therapy and pain relief: According to Antiagingsavantess the Arthritis Foundation says that massage therapy is becoming an increasingly popular alternative therapy to treat painful symptoms of arthritic disease. Doctors are realizing the efficiency and cost effectiveness to alleviate their patients of their chronic and debilitating disease related pain. Many massage therapists report that their arthritic clients find better and longer-lasting relief from massage than from pharmaceuticals.
Less pain, less medication means a longer quality life….what can be more anti-aging than that.
5) Improves posture
Poor posture doesn’t just upset your grandmother; it causes some muscles to get shorter and tighter, while allowing others to virtually wither away. Misalignment of your spine also puts added stress on your circulatory, digestive and nervous systems. As a result of poor posture, we also suffer increasing pain in various joints and along back, nerve related pain (due to pinching in spine or other constrained area), deformities which may be difficult to correct, improper digestion and limited breathing capacity (as chest and spine cave in on lungs).
- Again, massage therapy relaxes and loosens the muscles and teach you what it feels like to be in proper alignment. During a massage you can experience natural muscle movements and skeletal positions. After your massage, you will be more likely to seek out these healthier movements and positions with less discomfort, ultimately contributing to improved posture and its benefits.
- The more relaxed our muscles feel the more liberated our joints feel and our journey to a better posture will be made easier.
- The more space we will be able to create between our spinal vertebra and joints, the less risk for adding on to intervertebral stress and compression which can attribute to disc degeneration, nerve and vascular damage. This translates to less back pain, less sciatica and prevention of both muscular overuse and atrophy.
- Regular massage can ultimately encourage a more balanced, elongated body.