Health Benefits of Massage
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Massage - History and Health Benefits

While a good massage can leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and re-energized, there may be definite health benefits of massage as well.

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Anyone who has had the pleasure of putting themselves, quite literally, in the hands of a skilled practicioner of massage, generally a licensed massage therapist, will verify that a good massage feels terrific.

It can leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and re-energized. But the effects are often far more than just a pleasant afterglow. A good massage can provide a definite boost in health.

Tight muscles, a common problem in today's world, can result from over exercising or from stress, disease, injury and other causes.  In the first case, appropriate techniques can help relieve those knotty areas, improve circulation and help de-toxify muscles.  When tight muscles result from stress, a good massage can go even further to help restore health.

Stress, as we know, is generally a combination of physical and emotional factors, and jointly caused by both external and internal factors.  Usually, no external fact alone will cause lasting stress, except in extreme instances, but how you react to to that external stimuli does. On the other hand, you don't simply react to nothing just for the fun of it.  There are definitely external factors you observe before you evaluate them as stressful.

Massage helps work on the issue of stress from both directions.

Placing yourself into a quiet, peaceful ambiance with low lights, some nice music, maybe even a few pleasant scents, through the technique of aromatherapy, is the first step in removing yourself from the external stressors. You enter, at least temporarily, a comfort zone, free from the attack of the external stressors. Then the therapist can proceed to work on tense neck and back muscles, which are often the chief victims of stress.

The result of the session is an improved frame of mind, gained from better physical feelings and the opportunity to unwind and forget about the stressful events.  The effect is one of mood elevation.  That enhances the ability to deal with the emotional aspects of stress.

A properly administered massage, usually a Swedish massage, can aid circulation by directly working on areas where fluids can get trapped.  Renewing or increasing flow in those areas leads to better tissue flushing, if you will, eliminating build up of toxins, and bringing in fresh nutrients.  Muscles that receive a fresh flow of blood repair better and feel better.

Another benefit is the possibility of improved digestion.

Both stress and poor circulation are hindrances to good digestion.  As the massage relieves both those trouble areas, the stomach and intestines respond accordingly.

One of the obvious and usually immediate benefits is improved range of motion.

Sports massage sessions often result this, but it happens with other techniques as well. Once tight muscles have been relaxed, and joints made more limber, stiffness dissolves.  The result is a greater range of motion.

Effective massage techniques can, in some cases, work as part of an overall treatment plan to combat certain diseases and conditions.  As a result of this, many doctors who once would have relied on medication and/or surgery alone for some conditions, now consider massage as an option in some cases.   Arthritis sufferers, those who have had surgery on limbs and others frequently find that massage complements physical therapy.

Certain injuries can be induced to heal faster by adding massage therapy to the mix of treatments.  

Caution is advised, however.  Such conditions as broken bones which sometimes go undiagnosed in athletes when the break is small, can be worsened by massage therapy.  So too, inflammations and external lesions should addressed by a doctor before beginning massage therapy.

In general, however, reasons for having a good massage can be much more simple than that. While the healing power of touch is well known to body work professionals and they use all their tools to bring the patient to optimum health, sometimes, it just feels good.  Those new to massage should be skeptical of claims of miracle cures, but there is ample evidence that massage does provide direct and indirect health benefits in many instances.

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Updated 5:58 PM Sunday 8/12/2012