Benefits of Massage Therapy for Stress and Anxiety

There are many benefits of massage therapy for those suffering with stress and anxiety. Massage has proven benefits for the mind, body and spirit. It has been used for many centuries and all throughout the world and by all cultures. Chronic stress and anxiety leads to muscle tension. Muscles tense up automatically when we are stressed and much of the time we are not even aware of it. This tension constricts blood flow and effects our circulation. It has also been known to causechronic muscle fatigue. When experienced long term, this tension can eventually lead to other medical problems such as chronic headaches, TMJ dysfunction, and issues concerning the stomach, neck, shoulder, and lower back. One of the best things about massage is that no matter how stressed you are feeling you can count on it to effectively relax your muscles and when you relax your muscles you end up relaxing your mind. As with the mind-body-connection, whatever affects one will affect the other. So this means whatever happens to the body, affects the mind, and what goes on inside the mind affects the body. Massage relieves stress by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, and it also increases relaxation through releasing hormones responsible for us feeling good such as dopamine and seratonin. As we reduce stress, we also regulate negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.

History of Massage

For centuries, massage has been one of the most effective strategies for stress relief. It has also been used to aid in healing the body and soothing the mind. The history of massage therapy dates back to 3000 BCE (or earlier) in India, where it was considered a sacred system of natural healing. For more on the history of massage, THE TIMELINE HISTORY OF MASSAGE (3000BC TO 100BC) / History of Massage / By Julie Onofrio is a great website to learn more.

Emotional Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has a profound affect on our emotional health. Some of the most common emotional benefits of massage therapy are:

  • Elevates Mood
  • Provokes Feelings of Love and Appreciation
  • Helps Us to Feel Worthy & Taken Care Of
  • Promotes Feelings of Peace
  • Brings Us Into Self-Awareness
  • Improves Energy
  • Decreases Anxiety, Lowers Stress Levels, and Reduces Irritability
  • Helps Alleviate Depression
  • Physical Benefits of Massage Therapy

    Massage also has outstanding, positive effects on our physical health. Clinical studies have proven that massage has the amazing ability to do the following:

  • Reduces Physical Tension Caused By Stress & Anxiety
  • Relieves Physical Pain
  • Increases focus & Attention
  • Promotes Better Sleep
  • Promotes Mental & Physical Healing
  • Builds Immunity
  • Increases Blood Flow & Improves Circulation
  • Boosts Metabolism
  • Increases Flexibility & Range of Motion
  • Slows the Heart Rate
  • Reduces Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Pain
  • The Science Behind Massage

    What does medical literature tell us?

    There is much scientific evidence behind the benefits of massage therapy in regards to low-back pain, neck & shoulder pain, Osteoarthritis, Headaches, Cancer Symptoms & Cancer Treatment Side Effects, Fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, Infant Care and much more. For some excellent links to these studies, visit Massage Therapy for Health : What the Science Says December 2018 - Clinical Guidelines, Scientific Literature, Info for Patients: Massage Therapy for Health. Another study worth reading is: Treating generalized anxiety disorder using complementary and alternative medicine

    What Type of Massage is Best for Stress & Anxiety?

    There are many types of massage that works well for those suffering from stress & anxiety. Most often, people choose deep tissue, swedish massage, therapeutic massage but there are all kinds of massage that you prefer better. It really is about the person receiving the massage and what feels best and promotes the healing in mind and body that you are targeting. Some massage is gently and targets just the relaxation portion while other massage techniques aim at healing the body through targeting the deepest tissue. If you have hypertension, or other medical conditions such as vein issues, please contact your doctor prior to getting certain types of massages.

    Always tell your massage therapist if you have (or in some cases have had) any condition from one of these categories:

  • Contagious skin conditions (boils, warts, or herpes)
  • Other skin conditions (burns, rashes, or sores)
  • Circulatory system issues (high blood pressure, varicose veins, or stroke)
  • Digestive system issues (ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, or colitis)
  • Edema -tiny blood vessels in the body, also known as capillaries, leak fluid. The fluid builds up in nearby tissues. The leak leads to swelling.
  • Endocrine system issues (diabetes or thyroid dysfunction)
  • Musculoskeletal system conditions (carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Lymph/immune system issues (chronic fatigue or HIV/AIDS)
  • Nervous system conditions (herpes or Parkinson's disease)
  • Respiratory system issues (asthma)
  • Miscellaneous conditions (pregnancy, migraines, cancer)
  • When chronically stressed or anxious, a full body massage is highly recommended. Find a massage practitioner, and learn more about the benefits of massage, at American Massage Therapy Association

    Is Self-Massage Effective? What about doing massage at home?

    Athough self-massage can be an effective way to ease muscle tension and relax, many people find that it simply is not the same as getting a massage from a professional. This is because when you give yourself a massage, you need to activate some muscles while trying to relax other muscles. But, with that said, it is helpful and worth learning more about and can be incorporated into your daily routine for maximum benefit. There are so many self-massage tools on the market today and the options are far and wide. From small balls to large exercise chairs, it is really up to you to decide what you want and/or need in your daily routine. With the help of a friend, a spouse, we can also benefit even more from the emotional connection that can bring as we release built-up tension and stress that has accumulated throughout the day.

    Best Self-Massage Tools for Home Use

    Here are some of the most popular self-massage tools that are highly rated and effective. No matter what you are looking for, there is something to fit any budget.

  • Body Back Buddy Classic - Trigger Point Massage Tool, Neck and Back Massager Handheld, Manual Self Massager, Massage Cane, Muscle Knot Remover with Instructions (Black Marbled)

  • Peanut Massage Ball Roller, Double Lacrosse Ball, Acupoint Myofascial Release Muscle Knot Relaxer Mobility Trigger Point for Physical Therapy Self Deep Tissue Manual Massager Equipment Tool Set

  • MIKO Foot Massager Machine with Deep-Kneading, Compression, Shiatsu, and Heat for Plantar Fasciitis, Neuropathy, Fits up to Men Size 13

  • Top 3 Massage Balls Set, Spiky, Lacrosse ball, Peanut Muscle Roller Massager. Ideal for Self Myofascial Trigger Point Release, Acupressure, Plantar Fasciitis, Reflexology for Physio, Back, Legs & Feet

  • Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller for Exercise, Massage, Muscle Recovery - 12", 18", 24", 36"

  • Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion with Heat Massage Chair Pad Kneading Back Massager for Home Office Seat use
  • Looking for some FREE self-massage resources? THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SELF-MASSAGE: TECHNIQUES FOR AT-HOME MASSAGE THERAPY offers free information, tips and tecniques for at-home self-massage.

    Let's Talk about Massage!

    Share how massage therapy has helped to improve your life, helped you to manage your stress and anxiety, and/or relieve physical pain. Share what self-massage tools you find most helpful, and offer your tips and techniques to others! We want to hear from you!

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