Benefits of a regular massage can include better sleep, increased energy and better concentration, as well as the physical benefits of easing aches and pains.
1. Helps to decrease stress
The number one benefit of massage. Many massage clients report that massage helps them cope with stress and feel more focused. A 2005 study found that women with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week found they were less depressed and angry, while a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found massage boosted patients’ white blood cell counts, increasing the number of circulating lymphocytes – which in turn can boost immunity. Massage was also found to reduce anxiety and depression in a 2004 meta-analysis of 37 studies found that massage reduced anxiety and depression.
2. Encourages positive hormone production
Massage may help to release endorphins (the body’s own “feelgood hormone”). These are amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
By helping to reduce stress, massage can assist in preventing the overproduction of certain hormones such as adrenaline, which is the “flight or fight” hormone. This causes your muscles to tense as your body can’t tell the difference between a dangerous grizzly bear and an annoying boss. This tension can aggravate existing muscular conditions or cause pain by itself. Becoming stressed also releases cortisol, which can suppress the immune system, decrease libido and even contribute to obesity.
3. Reduces aches and pains
Regular massage can also help with back pain, another very common reason for having to take time off work. In a Group Health Research Institute study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2006, one in three patients receiving a weekly massage for 10 weeks found it improved their back pain, compared to just one in 25 who continued with their usual care.
4. Improves energy levels
Massage helps stimulate blood circulation. This in turn increases energy, heightening efficiency of organ function, particularly regarding the elimination of toxins. According to a small study carried out in 1996 by the Touch Research Institute, it can even make you feel more alert.
5. Massages feel good!
There is the simple fact that massage feels good and allows you to take time out for yourself without distractions of technology and work.
An expert opinion
Urban Massage’s lead therapist Geoffrey Owden said: “Getting into a routine of having regular massages offers huge benefits. Your body remembers what you do to it. If you treat it in a dysfunctional way – which can be something as simple as sitting for eight hours straight as we do in offices – you need to undo that damage.”
“Having a regular massage can help reset your bodily systems – not just your muscles but also help regulate your hormones and your mood – generally make you feel better.”
How often should I get a massage?
Geoffrey believes that all well-being rituals should be carried out as regularly as possible. “If I was king, everyone would have a massage every other day. But I realise that that isn’t possible for most people.”
“Having a massage every week is pretty good, but if you can’t manage that, you could try alternating a fortnightly massage with a yoga session or similar in the other weeks – or whatever you find fits in best with your lifestyle as well as helping you to relax.”
“There are so many benefits of massage – better sleep, reduced stress, increased energy and circulation. If you can make it a regular thing, you are bound to notice the difference.”