Health Benefits of Massage

by : j_hardcastle89

More and more Americans are turning to massage to relieve the stresses of everyday life. It is pleasant and relaxing to receive an aromatherapy massage in a quiet spa. However, massage actually can have significant health benefits beyond the simple relaxation of a basic spa massage.

Massage therapy has been proven to reduce the amounts of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the hormone that causes the symptoms of stress including muscle pain, irritability, headaches and other physical symptoms. Digestion, which is often directly affected by stress, can be improved by application of regular massages.

Additionally, some scientists suspect that massage may release endorphins which produce a "high" or a sense of well-being similar to that which is achieved by exercise. Because of this effect, massage therapy has been particularly useful in helping arthritis patients who may not be able to exercise regularly. Massage can also help arthritis patients improve the range of motion in their joints.

Massage may also help improve circulation. It is theorized that the stroking motion of massage encourages healthy blood flow and assists in clearing toxins from the blood. The stroking motion may also assist the flow of lymph fluid. Lymph fluid bolsters the body's immune system, leading to increased resistance to disease.

Shiatsu massage, which uses some of the same principles as acupuncture, tai chi and other types of Chinese medicine can be used to treat more specific illnesses. Unlike a regular massage session at a spa, a shiatsu practitioner will take your medical history and ask you questions about specific symptoms, diet and exercise. Some of the conditions treated by shiatsu massage include asthma, menstrual cramps, arthritis, insomnia and constipation.

Ayurvedic massage is a 5,000 tradition of holistic healing including massage. Ayurvedic massage places emphasis on using scented oils and healing herbs to heal and relax the body. People can learn how to give themselves an Ayurvedic massage which, if performed in the morning, can increase vitality, circulation and stamina throughout the day.

Certain people should avoid all types of massage. These include people with open wounds or rashes, people with circulatory disorders, people who have had recent surgery and people with a history of blood clots. People with cancer should avoid massage following radiation or chemotherapy treatment and should avoid direct massage of any area with a tumor. Pregnant women are advised to avoid abdominal massage during the first three months of pregnancy.