Watching your diet and getting plenty of exercise are great ways to improve overall health, but they're not the only keys to wellness. Massage therapy is one of the ways you can work to keep your entire body in peak condition.
Wide-Ranging Benefits of Massage to Improve Overall Health
The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This means being truly healthy, according to the world's leading authority on the subject, means more than simply avoiding illness and injury. It means fostering whole-body wellness by caring for your emotional, physiological and social health. Massage therapy targets all of these areas, with research to back up its myriad benefits.
- Physical health –An estimated 80% of American adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Workplace injuries, repetitive stress and the normal toll of everyday life can contribute to aches and pains throughout the body. One in three American adults are functionally sleep deprived, which brings its own host of issues to the table. Physical health suffers when you're not able to do the things you enjoy or get a good night's sleep. Massage therapy has been proven to aid in not only relief from musculoskeletal pain, including that affecting the lower back, but also your ability to sleep soundly.
- Mental health –By lowering levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, massage therapy works to improve overall health from an emotional standpoint by reducing stress and mitigating some effects of anxiety. While cortisol levels decrease, serotonin and dopamine levels rise to create a deep sense of relaxation. Massage therapy can be an effective adjunctive treatment for anxiety disorders and depression, one which does not require an additional pharmaceutical intervention.
- Social health –All human beings have the need to touch and be touched. Working with a massage therapist on a regular basis inherently fosters a sense of trust and openness, and a session of intentional touch does do wonders for your health. Research indicates that, during a massage, the social bonding hormone oxytocin is released. At the same time, adrenocorticotropin hormone levels are reduced.
Supporting Whole Body Health with Massage Therapy
Few therapeutic treatments have the power to promote physical, emotional and social health as significantly as massage therapy. Working with a licensed and knowledgeable massage therapist can be a great way to improve overall health, while giving yourself a momentary respite from the stress of daily life. For most people, massage is very low risk with high-benefit potential, but it is important to speak with your doctor before scheduling an appointment for massage therapy if you have certain types of injuries or some health conditions.
Because massage therapy is non-invasive, conservative and prescription-free, it provides patients suffering from everything from chronic illnesses to minor injuries the chance to reduce their pain, improve mobility, promote better sleep and safeguard against anxiety. Touching upon all three tenets of the WHO’s definition of “health,” massage therapy just might be the answer you’ve been seeking.