The antidote to physical and mental ailments, relationship difficulties or stressful days can be found in the power of touch.
According to Cathy Ulrich, a bodywork and massage professional, “touch is as essential to human survival as is food”. The necessity of the power of touch and its healing capabilities are illustrated across the globe, every day. From soothing our own children, comforting a loved one or friend, to stroking our pets, the power of touch is recognised cross-culturally; it’s universal.
Perhaps you’ve had a bad day at work? Or an argument with your partner? Or are the stresses of life just generally getting you down? The answer lies at our fingertips.
The power of touch does not just have a positive affect on us mentally, but physically as well. Touch has the power to boost our overall health and well-being. This is one of the main contributing factors to why massage therapy is said to offer so many benefits for our minds and bodies.
Massage therapy has been around for hundreds of years and is used for a variety of health-related purposes. Generally, massage therapy is often categorised as a Contemporary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) method.
There are various types of massage therapy that offer their individual techniques and benefits. Some of the most common types of massage therapy include:
- Swedish massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Prenatal massage
- Postnatal massage
- Remedial massage
- Sports massage
- Indian head massage
The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy
A number of studies have recently been commissioned by The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to further explore the effects and various health benefits offered by massage therapy.
Although massage therapy is strongly associated with increasing relaxation, its health benefits extend much further than that. Massage therapy for health-related purposes is generally used by individuals seeking to relieve pain, rehabilitate sports or other injuries, help treat anxiety and depression, reduce stress levels, and aid in a person’s general wellness and well-being. This form of therapy has also been associated with having a positive impact on the body’s immune system and sleep cycle.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of massage therapy more closely on its ability to:
- Reducing stress levels
- Help manage anxiety and depression
- Boost the immune system
Reducing Stress Levels
Reducing stress levels is massage therapy’s most well known benefit. Stress can be a positive motivator when it is experienced temporarily. However, increased and extended occurrences of stress can exacerbate certain conditions and in some cases, even cause them. Stress is a risk factor associated with many chronic conditions and has particularly close links to anxiety and depression.
Massage therapy effectively reduces stress levels by not only allowing the individual to relax and take their mind away from the effecting stressors, but by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
Helping to Manage Anxiety and Depression
Now more than ever before we are seeing an increasing number of people suffering from the negative effects caused by anxiety and depression. These conditioners are often caused or worsened from being exposed to increased and extended periods of stress.
There are a number of techniques to help reduce the negative symptoms of anxiety and depression. One of these is massage therapy. As evidence through previous research, massage therapy helps to reduce cortisol levels, which has been shown to significantly soothe the negative feelings associated with these two conditions.
In order to benefit from the positive effects massage therapy offers, just one 30 minute session a week for a month can be enough to help significantly reduce the negative symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
Boosting the Immune System
Massage therapy has been known to help boost a person’s immune system. In a 2010 study, it has been shown that receiving just one 45-minute massage increases the number of white blood cells in the body that help fight disease. In addition to this, massage therapy causes other physiological changes including reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowering levels of molecules that are known to play a part in inflammation, and reducing levels of hormones that are associated with aggressive behaviour.
Interested in Trying Massage Therapy?
A range of spas and facilities are available that offer a variety of different massage therapies. If you have not yet tried this form of therapy but suffer from any of the discussed conditions, you can view a range of spas and facilities available across the UK here.