Reduce Stress and Anxiety While Increasing Productivity and Alertness
Research shows that massage reduces stress on physical and psychological levels by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, and insulin levels. Serotonin and dopamine are also released, which helps the body overcome chronic or habitual as well as acute or short term stress.
A well-known study by The University School of Medicine's Touch Research Institute found that 15 minutes in a massage chair enhances measurable EEG brain activity in adults. Additionally, these adults performed more quickly and accurately in mathematical testing after receiving the massage, while groups without massage showed no improvements.
Improve Your Mood
Massage also increases the production of endorphins, your body's natural "feel good" chemical. This helps balance your body's mood and more.
As noted above, massage therapy boosts serotonin levels, which the brain can convert to the sleep hormone, melatonin. So enjoy your chair pre-bedtime for a blissful night's sleep!
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Decades of research shows massage can serve as a powerful complementary treatment for lowering stress (as mentioned above) and blood pressure, two major contributors of heart disease. In fact, massage has been shown to acutely reduce blood pressure and heart rate in hypertensive women. Another study found that massage therapy may reduce pain, anxiety and muscular tension in cardiac surgery patients.
Manage Lower Back Pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Approximately one in ten people have it, and for many who develop back pain, it becomes a chronic condition.
A recent study found that massage may provide lasting relief for chronic lower back pain, according to research published in the journal Pain Medicine. Researchers looked at 104 people with persistent back pain who were referred by their doctors to licensed massage therapists. They went to 10 sessions over 12 weeks, and the practitioners were free to design massage programs that were individual to the patients, rather than all using the same technique.
Most subjects completed a questionnaire, and more than 50% reported clinically meaningful improvement in their back pain. Several people even dropped below the threshold for disability according to lead author Niki Munk, an assistant professor of health sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Additionally, many of these improvements lasted. Three months later, with no further massage sessions, 75% of the people who reported initial improvement said they still felt better.
Tension headaches are often caused by poor posture, a sore back or tight neck, or constantly straining your eyes. Massage improves blood flow and loosen tight muscles to reduce that pain and tension. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that massage reduces distress symptoms, pain, and sleep disturbances. Subjects in the study also experienced more headache free days and showed an increase in serotonin levels.
By helping you relax and giving you a moment to pause, massage opens your mind. You can think more clearly and get a better picture of the project at hand or the problem you're trying to solve. This is another massage benefit linked to the release of the hormones serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, and the decrease of the stress hormone cortisol.
Rekindle the Romance
One of the common side effects of chronic stress, depression, and anxiety is reduced libido and sexual dysfunction. While no studies have been done linking massage therapy to the improvement of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, massage has demonstrated the ability to dramatically reduce stress as measured by lowered cortisol levels. Cortisol also decreases testosterone, the hormone most responsible for sex drive. So hop in your chair for a relaxing massage sesh, let the stress melt away, then light some candles and set the mood!
Be More Mobile
Massage therapy has been proven to improve flexibility and range of motion by working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. It also stimulates blood flow. This keeps your joints more fluid and less prone to injury.
Research indicates that massage may strengthen the immune system (especially during winter months) by increasing the activity level of the body's white blood cells, which fight viruses. The up in white blood cells is another result of a decrease in cortisol, which destroys natural killer cells.