The Medical Benefits of Massage
Stiff necks and aching backs aren't the only ailments aided by massage. A growing body of evidence suggests that massage can improve a variety of conditions -- as a primary or complementary therapy.
Rubbing Away Pain, Easing Stress
The Archives of Internal Medicine recently reported that massage significantly improved the pain of knee arthritis. How might it reduce pain? Possibly by boosting circulation to the sore knee, toning the supporting muscles and improving joint flexibility.
Massage also may help other types of discomfort, such as muscle soreness after a workout. A study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that a 10-minute massage cut soreness after exercise by about 30 percent. Among cancer patients, massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies. It can help reduce anxiety by up to 32 percent.
Other research shows that massage can help treat a variety of conditions, including fatigue, age-related and sleep disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, suppressed immunity, postoperative symptoms and depression.
How Does Massage Work?
Massage has many physiological effects, including:
- boosting circulation;
- stimulating the body's defenses against toxins;
- relaxing and softening muscles;
- increasing joint flexibility;
- releasing endorphins, the body's natural painkillers;
- improving range of motion and decreasing discomfort for individuals with low-back pain;
- exercising and stretching atrophied muscles;
- reducing shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
Ready to Try Massage?
Many different styles of massage are available -- from gentle strokes to deeper, kneading motions. Some are geared toward stress relief, while others are aimed at a particular medical problem, such as muscle spasms.
Although massage is considered safe by most, it can cause temporary pain or bruising. For some people, massage may be riskier and should be avoided. This includes people with the following conditions:
- deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the legs;
- a bleeding disorder.
While massage can be beneficial for pregnant women, talk with your doctor first.
The Lourdes Wellness Center offers a variety of massage programs for all ages and conditions. For a complete listing, go to www.lourdeswellnesscenter.org.