Most people love to get a massage only because it feels good. There’s no better way to pamper yourself than allowing someone to melt away the day’s tension with the touch of their hands.
But as it turns out, getting regular massages has real health benefits as well. Massage can improve your mood and even help your body fight off colds and the flu better.
Here’s a look at five benefits of massage that may also come as a bit of a surprise.
It Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Several studies have shown that massage can help people of all ages with depression and anxiety.
One of the reasons why massage can feel so soothing is because it helps the body release dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of pleasure.
In one study, pregnant women who were depressed and received massage therapy for 16 weeks reported lower levels of anxiety and depressed mood. They also had higher levels of dopamine and serotonin, and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrine—two stress hormones.
Boosts Your Immunity System
It turns out that getting regular massages may help make your body resist infections better.
In 2010, researchers at Cedars-Sinai found that people who received Swedish massages experienced a significant bump in their white blood cell count. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, help us fight off infections and illnesses.
At the same time, their blood samples showed a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, something that can compromise the immune system. While massages do not replace getting the flu shot, regular massage therapy can give your immune system a helping hand.
Helps You Sleep Better
Massage helps you relax and as mentioned, causes your body to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with calmness and sleep.
And as massage helps ease pain (see number four below), it can help those with chronic pain get some relief for a better night’s rest.
For The Pain
Massage eases pain in many ways. It improves circulation so blood can help achy areas heal faster, and it also helps the body release endorphins that act as a natural pain reducer.
A massage loosens up sore muscles and tendons and makes the body feel more supple.
When over 1,200 cancer patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center received a massage, their chronic pain, nausea, and anxiety related to their illness and treatments decreased by 50%.
Benefits of Monthly Massage #5: It Counteracts Sitting For Long Periods
If you sit at your job for several hours at a time, you may begin to experience back, shoulder, and neck pain from being hunched over at a computer.
Regular massages including chair massage can help counteract the effects of sitting all day, including the pain and poor posture associated with it.
In addition to a regular massage, there are many exercises you can do at work while standing to help improve your posture.