Massage is great for you for a multitude of reasons. From relaxation to improving blood flow, easing muscle tension and even the feeling of a little ‘selfish’ indulgence, the benefits are many. So rid yourself of the guilt because massage shouldn’t just be relegated to being a rare special treat, it’s an integral part of your long-term wellbeing – and here’s why:
Massage can help with headaches. The power of touch seems to help limit headache pain. Start by applying gentle pressure with your fingertips to your temples, then move them in a circular motion along the hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead.
It can help you sleep. The calming treatment can also help you spend more time asleep, according to research from Miami University’s Touch Research Institute: “Massage helps people spend more time in deep sleep, the restorative stage in which your body barely moves.”
Massage can reduce pain. A 2011 study found that massage helped people with low back pain to feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t get a rubdown.
Massage may ward off colds. There’s a small body of research that suggests massages boost immune function. A 2010 study, believed to be the largest study on massage’s effects on the immune system, found that 45 minutes of Swedish massage resulted in significant changes in white blood cells and lymphocytes, which help protect the body from bugs and germs.
It could make you more alert. At least one study has linked massage to better brainpower.
The stress reduction is scientific. Between the dim lights, soothing music and healing touch, it certainly feels like stress melts away during a massage, but research suggests a very literal reduction of cortisol, a major stress hormone.
It may alleviate depression symptoms. A 2010 review of the existing studies examining massage in people with depression found that all 17 pieces of research noted positive effects.
Massage may ease cancer treatment. Among patients receiving care for cancer, studies have noted multiple benefits of massage, including improved relaxation, sleep and immune system function as well as decreased fatigue, pain, anxiety and nausea.