Listen: I know how difficult it can be to make time for a massage. I typically treat myself only once a month or so. As I’m booking my session, I question whether or not I really need it, could I be spending that money on something else, etc. And you know the horrible thing about this? I’m a massage therapist myself.
So I get why you might not get massaged as often as you should. But the thing is, I never regret it afterwards, and consider it money well spent. There’s a new study coming out every few weeks or months now it seems, scientifically confirming what we’ve known intuitively for literally hundreds of years: Massage shouldn’t be treated so much as a luxury, but as a part of one’s wellness plan, right alongside exercise and proper nutrition.
With that said, here’s five vital reasons you should book your next bodywork session in the near future:
1. Massage Reduces Anxiety and Stress
It’s said that the vast majority of diseases and their complications are brought on by anxiety and stress. Massage has been proven to lower cortisol levels in the body while increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, thus helping to alleviate the stress we suffer from day to day, and promoting perspective and clarity.
2. Massage Addresses Low Back Pain
Massage addresses a number of musculoskeletal issues, but let’s single out the leading cause of disability in the U.S. (according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010). Thirty-one million Americans are suffering low back pain at any given time, with over $50 million dollars spent every year spent on traditional medical treatment, worker’s compensation, and lost time from work. A 2011 study found that regular massage to the lower back can help alleviate pain, and it didn’t even matter whether it was deep tissue or lighter Swedish massage – bodywork in general to the low back is helpful.
3. Massage Enhances Immunity
Swedish and deep tissue massage promotes the movement of lymph, the body’s natural defense system.
4. Massage Reduces the Effects of Long Hours of Desk-Sitting and Driving
The most common responses I get when I ask clients what causes them the most pain are these two things. The average American worker sits 8-9 hour a day either at a computer or behind the wheel, causing shoulders to become pulled forward and rounded, upper and lower back muscles to become overstretched and weak, and that’s just what happens to the upper half of your body. Coupled with a regular exercise routine, massage can help alleviate pain, and keep those postural deviations in check.
5. Massage Helps Athletes Prepare and Recover from Events
Many of us aren’t just exercising regularly these days, but challenging ourselves with athletic events such as marathons and Iron Man competitions, and events like Tough Mudder. Massage to help recover from these events is great, but even better is incorporating it into your wellness program leading up to the big event. It will help reduce muscle soreness and tightness, and keep joints mobile and flexible.
6. Giving Massage Can Provide Just as Much Benefit and Receiving It
While I certainly do like job security, I also hate to hear when a client comes to me (and it’s almost always a female in this scenario) and complains that her spouse or boyfriend won’t give her a massage, or if he will, it’s a half-hearted five-minute one at best. Aside from the chance of bonding it provides for a couple, giving massage has been proven to lower cortisol and raise serotonin and dopamine levels in the giver as well. The most frequent excuse I hear when the guy is called out right in front of me (and yes, that happens more often than you might think) is “I’m horrible at it”. You’re probably not as horrible as you think. And if you really want some bonus points, there are a number of classes offered showing couples how to give the gift of massage to each other.
But, you know, you should still make time to see your massage professional.