9 Medical Benefits of Massage

massage chambers center for well-being, morristown, njWhen you hear the word “massage,” you might think it’s a luxury. But in reality, for many people, massage therapy is a necessity. In fact, about who book a massage at Atlantic Health System’s Chambers Center for Well-Being do so for medical reasons.

“When you get a massage, you are taking care of you,” says massage therapist Valery Jaramillo at the Chambers Center. “When you take care of yourself, you love yourself more, and your overall well-being improves.”

Massage therapy may be beneficial to treat the symptoms of a variety of health conditions, including cancer, lymphedema, fibromyalgia and heart disease. Let’s look at nine medical benefits of massage.

  1. Pain relief – “The most common reason people schedule a is because they’re experiencing mild to severe pain,” says massage therapist Cymbelene Nardo with the Chambers Center. This can include pain in the shoulder, back, neck or legs, or pain caused by chronic headaches, sciatica and fibromyalgia. link regular massage to a reduction in pain symptoms.
  1. Balanced immune function – Stress has a negative effect on the body’s immune system. “When we’re stressed, our cortisol level increases,” Nardo says. Massage helps decrease cortisol levels and increase endorphins, which helps to stimulate the immune system. One study suggests that regular massage may balance immunity by increasing the production of disease-fighting white blood cells in the body.
  1. Reduced anxiety – In addition to releasing feel-good endorphins, massage also helps people boost their energy levels and balance the body and mind. All of this can help lessen people’s stress and anxiety, according to one study.
  1. Improved sports performance – When you participate in sports or work out regularly, your muscles can get tight and tense. “A sports massage can help reduce inflammation and release muscle tension, helping you lengthen those muscles and regain your flexibility,” says massage therapist Felicia Drouillard with the Chambers Center.
  1. Faster recovery from surgery – Massage can help move inflammation away from the joints after knee, hip or shoulder surgery. In addition, a massage technique called cross-fiber friction can soften the tissue underneath surgical scars, which may promote faster healing.
  1. Increased circulation – “Massage therapy can help improve blood flow throughout the body and deliver more oxygen to the brain,” Drouillard says. One study shows that massage is a safe and effective approach to lowering blood pressure. A small amount of evidence suggests that massage can also help manage symptoms associated with early stages of dementia.
  1. Reduced swelling – Massage is a proven treatment for lymphedema, swelling in the arms or legs that can be a side effect of cancer treatment or certain surgeries. “Lymphatic manual drainage moves fluid toward healthy lymph nodes so it can be filtered and drained,” Nardo says. In addition, studies show massage is beneficial in treating cancer pain.
  1. Better sleep – Massage increases levels of serotonin and dopamine in your body. Research indicates that this can help you get a better night’s sleep.
  1. Pregnancy – A prenatal pregnancy massage can help relieve pregnancy pain, while a postnatal massage may help reduce stretchmarks and increase milk circulation.

What can help you maximize the health benefits of massage? Making massage a routine part of your wellness program. “We find that people who get a massage every four or six weeks get the biggest benefits,” Nardo says.