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The Soothing Touch: Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

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Treating yourself to regular massages can have more of an impact on your health than you may think.

Receiving a rubdown can not only alleviate sore muscles after an intense workout, as well as reduce inflammation, but a new study shows that massages do more for the body than just relaxing it.

Massage is a general term that describes the pressing, rubbing, and manipulating of the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

For the same reasons that a massage is relaxing, it can also soothe anxiety and depression. According to MayoClinic, massages aid in reducing the stress hormone cortisol, which can lift the spirits of the person, while reducing blood pressure.

It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression.

According to a 2012 study, massage helped individuals in pain feel and function better compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.

“We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga,” said Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., and lead author of the study.

If you found yourself dozing off on the massage table, then you know how a massage can promote healthy sleep. A massage can affect delta waves in the brain, which are brain waves that help promote deep sleep, according to Health magazine.

Even though a massage has many rewarding factors, it may not be for everyone. Massages may not be appropriate if you have ⎯

• Bleeding disorders, or take blood-thinning medication.
• Burns, open or healing wounds.
• Fractures.
• Severe osteoporosis.
• Deep vein thrombosis.

If you are considering getting regular massages, first discuss the pros and cons with your doctor, especially if you’re pregnant or have cancer or unexplained pain.

Also, discard the notion that a massage is only a “pampering” service. Stress can be extremely harmful on the body, so engaging in regular massage ⎯ even if it’s only once a month ⎯ can help melt away that stress, and help your body function at its peak performance.

Take charge.

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