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Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

August 15, 2013

Massage therapy can improve a person's life in dramatic fashion. Half of the health benefits of massage therapy are measurable and the other half are purely quality of life improvements.

The Tangible

Circulation is the body's way of both delivering nutrients to all body parts and its way of cleaning those areas of waste. Under normal circumstances, this cleansing effect occurs slowly as a healthy blood pressure is a relatively low intensity thing. During massage therapy, this circulation is forced into higher intensity by the kneading of muscles. The effect of such actions is like using a pressure washer instead of a garden hose.

The added circulation can flood exhausted muscles and connective tissue with blood, providing a sudden boost in the delivery of Oxygen and other essential nutrients. It can also jar loose blockages and hasten the removal of waste products. This effect is one of the primary reasons many athletes will opt for a massage immediately after strenuous workouts - the massage reduces recovery time.

The Intangible

Being social creatures, humans crave physical contact. Massage therapy fills this craving in a very satisfying manner. While the fulfillment of this social need cannot be measured, its side effects can. Lower blood pressure is often an immediate and measurable result of massage therapy.

Whether the result is directly caused by the relaxation of massage, the reduction of stress due to meeting the social need of touch or the expansion of blood vessels caused by the actual process of massage is a topic that could be debated. If there is a single answer to the question of what exactly causes the effect, this answer hardly matters. What matters is that there are things that lower stress and blood pressure for which science has yet to come to a consensus as to the actual cause. Spending time with pets causes a very similar effect and there is no answer to why beyond "It makes us happy."

Some claim the benefits of massage therapy are purely in the minds of those who undergo the treatment. The rebuttal to this opinion is that the people who rely on their bodies the most, athletes, are as enthusiastic about receiving regular massage as they are about eating healthy food. The placebo effect is real and people do gain psychosomatic improvements from treatments of various types. That said, people do not universally feel the same improvements from the placebo effect, but they do claim the same benefits from regular massage therapy treatments.

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