Massage is often typecast as a form of relaxation, says massage therapist Howard Michael Burnham Gowen. And while this is certainly true, investing in regular massage therapy can go beyond mere relaxation, creating deeper, long-lasting benefits for both your physical and mental health.
Massage Lowers Your Stress Levels Says Howard Michael Burnham Gowen
The first and most well-known benefit of massage therapy is its ability to lower your stress levels, says masseuse Howard Michael Burnham Gowen. While this can seem like a temporary benefit at best, reducing your stress levels whenever possible can actually have a massive impact on your physical and mental health.
Stress hormones like cortisol send your body into fight or flight mode. This means digestion is slowed, adrenaline is released, and your blood pressure skyrockets as blood is sent to your extremities. While this is an excellent evolutionary response when you’re faced with physical danger like a large predator chasing you, it’s not especially helpful when your stress response is being triggered by your workload or your boss’s attitude.
In fact, these hardwired responses do your body and mental state a great deal of damage when they become chronic. Anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, cancer, weight gain, and high blood pressure are all associated with chronic stress, says Howard Michael Burnham Gowen.
Massage decreases stress levels and allows your nervous system to reset. Regular massage can help you fight the effects of chronic stress and reap the benefits of a more mellow lifestyle.
Massage Helps You Manage Pain
Chronic pain affects more than 50 million adults in the U.S. alone, according to the CDC. Whether it’s caused by an illness like MS or rheumatoid arthritis, or an injury to your musculoskeletal system, chronic pain can drastically decrease your quality of life. Difficulty completing everyday tasks, being distracted by pain during work or quality time with your family–all of these contribute to the depression and anxiety that often accompany chronic pain.
Massage offers relief from chronic pain–and not just temporarily, says Howard Michael Burnham Gowen. Investing in regular massage therapy can decrease stiffness and restore mobility, both of which allow you to move more normally and strengthen the proper muscle groups to help reduce ongoing pain.
When you’re massaged, your body also releases natural painkillers in your body like serotonin and endorphins. These feel-good chemicals also fight the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Massage Strengthens Your Immune System
Stress hormones weaken your immune system, which means that regular massage can help you combat those effects and restore your immune system as it decreases your stress levels. Research also indicates that massage activates your body’s T cell activity, says Howard Michael Burnham Gowen. T cells are your body’s first line of defense against germs, bacteria, and other foreign bodies, so the more active they are the better!