Many people believe that going to a massage therapist is just a way to pamper or indulge yourself. This is why so many of us wait to have one; we treat it as a way to reward ourselves for special occasions, like birthdays or vacations. The truth is, the benefits of receiving a therapeutic massage run much deeper than the superficial "feeling good" — which seems like a good enough reason, in my mind!
There are endless positive benefits to receiving a massage, but here are just a few:
1. Receiving a massage can alleviate chronic pain.
This may seem obvious, but there are many people out there who live with chronic back, shoulder and neck issues. Massages can reduce the causes of this pain, which can be a healthier and more holistic approach than reaching for synthetic drugs or other forms of pain relief.
2. Massages promote better sleep.
Many people struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. When we get a massage, it not only reduces tension in the muscles, but it can also change our hormone levels in such a way that allows for more profound relaxation to arise. Massage therapy has been linked to increased delta waves in the brain, which are connected to deeper, more restful sleep.
3. Massage therapy may relieve mild depression.
Massage therapy has been touted for releasing the tension, stress and anxiety that is often accompanied with mild depression. It's believed that receiving physical touch can change our bio-chemisty and lower our cortisol levels, our bodies stress hormone. If our cortisol levels are too high on a regular basis it can lead to all kinds of imbalance in our system, including feelings of depression. Massage therapy can be a beautiful, natural way to regulate these hormones levels thus creating a more relaxed, improved state in our overall mental and physical wellbeing.
4. Getting a massage is a great way to boost your immunity.
When we're stressed and anxious all the time, it's harder for our bodies to fight off and defend against the pathogens we're exposed to every single day. Even a light, gentle touch can allow the lymphatic system to drain and release waste like bacteria and viruses from the body more efficiently, increasing our chances to fight off the germs we come in contact with as a part of our everyday lives.
5. Self massages can ease your financial concerns.
If you're someone who finds that taking the time to schedule a massage on a more regular basis is a challenge, or you feel hindered by the cost, you can always try self massages. Begin by finding the right oil — I like using sesame or coconut oil. You can add a few drops of high quality therapeutic grade essential oil to it, like lavender (this part isn't necessary but adds a lot to the experience). I'll have my health coaching and massage clients begin practicing this by focusing on the major joints in the body first. You can begin by gently rubbing the oil into your neck area, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Then continue by moving to your hips, knees and ankles. If that's all you have time for, that's still going to be of great benefit to you and will naturally lubricate these often neglected areas of the body.
So the next time you're thinking about getting a massage, remember that the experience runs much deeper than just pampering yourself. Having a massage can be seen as a great tool for improving your overall health, and it's a step in the direction for increasing your own capability to enhance and practice exceptional self care.
Kate Greenleaf is a wife and a mother to three amazing children. She's a practicing Holistic Health Coach and long time Yoga Instructor and Massage Therapist. Along with teaching her health coaching clients and weekly open yoga classes, she leads corporate wellness retreats and small private holistic health and yoga groups in the mountains of her beautiful home state of Vermont. To find out more about her work or to connect with Kate, visit her website.