How can massage boost your health?

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Did you know that massage can ease a whole range of health problems from IBS to PMS? Here’s how.

When you develop a dull pain in your lower back or a stiff neck, you probably think of booking a home massage to provide relief. But the benefits of massage therapy don’t just start there…

‘I always ask clients if they have any health issues at the start of a session,’ says Devjit, a London-based massage practitioner. ‘They may come to me with a bad back, but then they mention other issues such as migraine or digestive problems, which means I can target specific areas.’

The power of massage

‘Massage works on so many levels,’ says Devjit. ‘When you’re relaxed you feel better about yourself and your immune system is stronger. It alleviates stiffness, boosts your circulation, and encourages the body to release pain-relieving endorphins.’ But which problems can massage help?

  1. IBS and digestion issues – ‘Abdominal massage gets the digestive system moving,’ says Devjit. This helps alleviate symptoms such as bloating and constipation, and eases stress, which is a trigger for IBS.
  2. Tension headaches and migraines – ‘A deep tissue massage of the neck, shoulders and upper back is ideal,’ says Devjit. Researchers at the University of Auckland found people who received massage therapy for several weeks reported fewer migraines and more restful sleep afterwards.
  3. Premenstrual syndrome ­– Massage has been found to banish mood swings, bloating, headaches, weight gain, and other PMS symptoms. Try Thai massage, where the therapist uses his or her body to move the client into a variety of positions and includes compression of muscles and mobilisation of joints.
  4. Insomnia and anxiety – ‘People can get trapped in a cycle of worry which affects mood, but massage can help release physical stress and even improve emotional issues. I may try Swedish massage to relieve muscle tension and help reduce stress levels,’ says Devjit.
  5. Depression – Evidence shows massage may help alleviate symptoms of depression. Researchers think this could be due to inducing relaxation; building an ‘alliance’ between the therapist and patient, and by causing the body to release the ‘trust hormone’ oxytocin.

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