More than Just a Feeling – Why Massage Therapy Is So Good For You

massage therapyBy now you’ve heard the ad campaigns, extolling the benefits of regular massage treatments.  Retail massage shops Massage Envy talk about the detoxifying effects of shiatsu and deep tissue massage and why you should schedule a few sessions a month to stay in good shape.  But don’t discount these claims as mere advertising copy; massage is more than just a way to relax.  Once people discover the health benefits of regular massage, their next question is usually, “how often?”

How often should you get a massage?

When one finds an elixir for high blood pressure that reduces stress and boosts the immune system, it’s hard to limit sessions to once per month. Not only will that, but the detoxifying effects of massage are more impactful with weekly sessions.  Because of this, outlets like Massage Envy Spa have instituted annual memberships that give clients an hour-long massage each month for only $59, plus additional hour-long sessions for only $39 each.  Larger corporations are catching on to this trend too, by bringing in massage therapists to help employees maintain wellness during the workday.  If pure relaxation is your only motivation for massage, then it might be more convenient to schedule a 90 minute massage once each month.

The health benefits of massage therapy

A recent article published in Newsweek (“The Magic of Touch”) confirmed what many Americans had already discovered on their own; that regular massage sessions are a great way to release blocked energy and cleanse the body of harmful toxins.  It also does wonders for people who suffer from migraines, back strain and work-related stress.  More and more doctors and chiropractors are prescribing massage to help their patients manage stress and combat the aches and pains of everyday life.  They believe in it because they’ve seen patients stop taking medications for back pain, blood pressure and other common ailments.

A substitute for intimacy?

Some men find massage therapy intimidating, worrying that their wife or girlfriend will fall for the massage therapist, but women are not inclined to look at their masseur with bedroom eyes, not even when they’re single. That said, a regular massage session can do wonders for the woman who misses a man’s touch.  Single women might find it satisfying to get a deep muscle massage from a strong young masseur, particularly when she is not involved in an intimate relationship.

While there is nothing blatantly sexual about a therapeutic massage, it can help women reconnect with their bodies in a healthy way.  Getting a weekly massage might seem a bit self-indulgent, but new research suggests it is beneficial enough to warrant a slot on the weekly calendar.  In order to justify the expense, some women have given up a weekly manicure or that daily trip to Starbucks.

A new form of preventive healthcare

The jury is still out on whether regular massage therapy will become a “covered expense” by mainstream insurance companies, but a few HMOs have already begun sharing the cost.  According to Laura Favin of Not Just a Luxury Onsite Massage, “Massage is medicine, not merely an indulgence… Scientists are now finding that the practice can boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure, dampen harmful stress hormones and raise mood-elevating brain chemicals…”  She explains that massage is unbeatable for relaxation, and it should be placed in the same category as proper diet and exercise.  If this is true, and massage helps maintain a person’s overall health, then why shouldn’t it be used as preventive medicine?

Massage for your metabolism

According to the Tiffany Field, founder of the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute, massage can stimulate the nerves that carry signals from the skin to the brain, which trigger some very desirable changes in the body.  As opposed to a light touch, massage stimulates a nerve in the brain called the “vagus,” which controls the secretion of food-absorption hormones such as insulin.  This allows one part of the body to communicate with the other.  In short, massage can do more than help one maintain optimal health by stimulating the nerves and relaxing tense muscles, it can actually help stimulate metabolic processes.

Many small and large corporations have adopted wellness programs to help their workforce stay healthy.  Similar to exercise, massage does more for you the more often you engage in it.  Even a monthly session can be an effective way to maintain general health.  Wellness consultants recommend making regular massage a priority in your life in order to guarantee a healthier tomorrow.

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