This post is authored by one of our fantastic teammates: Michelle Heath, Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist at Azura Skin Care Center in Cary, North Carolina.
I’ve been a therapist for over 7 years now. I still find it surprising how many people have never experienced a professional massage or understand the many benefits of regular bodywork. Today, I’ll cover a few of those benefits, but believe me there are so many more your head may spin!
Benefits of Massage
One of the obvious benefits of massage is stress reduction and decreased anxiety. You may wonder, how can physical touch actually help you become mentally relaxed? A good place to start is by looking into how our brains work. By physically manipulating our muscles, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. When cortisol levels are high in the body our blood pressure is increased and our immune system is weakened. High levels of cortisol can also slow down the healing process. Cortisol is definitely a problem child in our bodies.
Falling Asleep on the Table
Let’s also talk about some of the neurotransmitters in our brains. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, make us feel all warm and cozy inside. Serotonin, which promotes a sense of well-being and happiness, also regulates mood, hunger, and sleep. That is why it is so easy for some to fall asleep on the massage table even though a massage can be very rigorous at times. The increased level of serotonin kicks in and puts you to sleep. Not only does a massage feel good, but it can actually help your body boost its own self-defense mechanism as well as help in regulating blood pressure and other metabolic levels in the body.
Massage > Rest After Exercise
Other benefits of massage are reduced muscle tension and fatigue. After exercise, there are tiny tears in the muscle fibers which cause inflammation and soreness. Massage enhances blood circulation which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients sent to the muscle. When more oxygen and nutrients are present, muscle fatigue is decreased. Massage further helps by flushing out waste products that form after exercise. Potassium, lactic acid, and chloride are some of those waste products. The stretching and lengthening of muscle fiber from massage also increases the range of motion and flexibility significantly. For instance, a fatigued muscle only recoups by 20% after five minutes of rest but 100% after five minutes of massage! So, after a strenuous workout or other physical activity, recovery time is shortened by 80%!
Additionally, in our practice, I see many repetitive motion injuries. Repetitive motion injuries (RMI) unfortunately develop from our own poor body mechanics while at work or participating in sports activities. For instance, bursitis and tendonitis are inflammation and degeneration of soft tissue around the muscle and bone. Signs of RMI include pain, redness, heat, and swelling. As the injury progresses, muscle soreness and tension increases, which can lead to limited range of motion and the formation of trigger points. Ever wonder what the knots are when rubbing out sore muscles? Those are knots that form in tight muscle bands. If those knots or nodules are not worked out they could end up compressing a nerve. Using deep compressive and cross fiber friction strokes can help to reduce trigger points and relieve muscle spasms.
Remember: Just like after a good workout, be sure to drink plenty of water and stretch after every massage!
Make Time for Yourself
All in all, there are many benefits related to regular bodywork. From reduced pain and tension to general relaxation and stress reduction. With all the benefits of massage, you have to actually make time for yourself and get on the table. Listen to your body. Don’t wait until you have limited range of motion and extreme pain before you take action. If your problem formed over weeks realize that one session isn’t going to fix the problem. You need to be consistent with bodywork and making changes in your everyday life as well.
Thank you guys so much for reading my first blog. I was so excited to bring this information to you. Check out all the massages we offer at Azura, including our VIP Program, and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-307-8033.