It’s an idea catching fire from the grass roots. In a 2015 research study, 77% of people said their reason for getting a massage was medical or stress-related. Eighty percent of more than a thousand medical centers in an American Hospital Association survey reported that they offer massage therapy.
The fact that more than 70% of those hospitals said massage was one of their options for pain management and relief is particularly significant, given widespread concerns today about the over-use of prescription opioids and narcotic pain relievers. A survey of anesthesiologists conducted by their professional association, the ASA, reported that only one-fourth of patients even ask about non-opioid options. Because some of the saddest headlines of our times have to do with an epidemic of overdose and addiction, the awakening to safer alternatives for pain relief could not be timelier.
On a brighter note, massage has been recognized for centuries to help the body do what it does naturally – improving circulation, relaxing muscles, and opening trigger points where the body’s flow of energy through nerve impulses may be blocked or constricted. These “knots” are specific, local points of contraction in the muscle fiber that can become fixed and persistent. Massage offers a therapeutic way to untie those knots, to relax and release the body’s natural posture, alignment, and paths of motion.
Why it Works
The contrast between how widely accepted are the health benefits of massage and how fledgling is the nature of understanding the science behind those benefits might be the result of how many ways massage works. There’s more than one reason why it’s good for you.
On one level, massage reduces the body’s production of cytokines, which are proteins that contribute to inflammation. Conversely, massage is shown to stimulate mitochondria, the energy-producing units that help cells function and repair themselves. For counteracting stress, massage appears to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, a hormone released by stress that arms the body for fight or flight. The human situations in which cortisol – and its cousin adrenaline – can help are rare nowadays, and so the effects of these stress hormones are often more harm than good. Reducing the level of stress hormones is both a cause and an effect of how massage relieves stress. Massage sends that spiral in a positive direction.
And it Feels Good
Even when we’re discussing the medical benefits of massage, it’s not out of place to recall that massage feels good. Feeling good is another one of those chicken-or-the-egg things about well-being – it’s hard to separate cause from effect. There are so many methods from which you can choose that selecting the approach you prefer can add the “before” to a complete cycle of enjoyment – before, during, and after your massage.
You can make different selections for different results and occasions, from relaxing to deep and therapeutic. The choice is yours, and the opportunities are abundant. Considering the long-demonstrated benefits and the variety of options, the only puzzling thing about massage therapy is that more people don’t do it more regularly.
Part of our philosophy at Genesis4Wellnessis is to make massage more accessible, and so we make it affordable. It’s an extension of our mission to offer people the ways of well-being within easier reach. We hope you’ll find, as we do, that massage plays a role in the life you enjoy, a role that is unique in its ability to relax, rejuvenate, and restore.