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Experts estimate that 80% to 90% of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork helps to combat those frightening numbers by helping us remember what it means to relax.

The physical changes massage brings to your body can have a positive effect in many areas of your life.

  • Increases relaxation
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases circulation which can improve recovery from injury
  • Helps to sleep better, reducing fatigue to give you more energy
  • Increases concentration

Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind. By producing a meditative state or heightened awareness of living in the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing with it true relaxation and peace. The incredible benefits of massage are doubly powerful if taken in regular "doses."

Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami, is known for her massage research, along with colleague Tiffany Field. Together, they and other researchers have done outstanding work proving the value of massage.

While their studies have shown we can benefit from massage even in small doses (15 minutes of chair massage or a half-hour table session), Hernandez-Reif says that receiving bodywork 2-3 times a week is highly beneficial. And if we lived in a fantasy world, Hernandez-Reif has the answer. "I feel a daily massage is optimal."

It is undoubtedly a wonderful thing when our therapist begins unwinding those stress-tightened muscles; Your days troubles begin to fade away. But it's the cherry on top to know this "medicine" only gets better with frequency.

 

What You Already Know: The Benefits of Massage

  • In an age of technical, and at times impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body's natural ability to heal itself. So what exactly are the benefits to receiving regular massage and/or bodywork treatments?
  • Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
  • Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body's natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
  • Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body's largest organ - the skin.
  • Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles.
  • Reduces spasms and cramping.
  • Increases joint flexibility.
  • Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.
  • Releases endorphins - the body's natural painkiller - and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.
  • Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.
  • Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.
  • Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication.
  • Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
  • Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays.

 

The Need for Touch

As a society, we are touch deprived and this can lead to disease or emotional dysfunction. From the cradle to the nursing home, tactile stimulation and the emotional assurance of caring touch bring about a sense of well-being and security.

In numerous studies conducted on massage for infants, TRI researchers have found improved weight gain and development in pre-term infants, improved weight gain and motor behavior in cocaine-exposed infants, and improved weight gain and decreased stress behavior in HIV-exposed infants. Full-term infants also benefit with increased alertness and social behavior, less crying and increased weight gain.

 

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