Today getting a massage is often considered to be a thing of luxury, something to treat yourself with once in a while, centuries ago this was not the case. Take ancient Rome as an example, who built several public baths to improve general health of their citizens by using water therapy and massage. Hopefully these scientifically proven health benefits will inspire you to treat your body and mind to the “treatment of touch” more often.
The tradition of massage goes centuries back, it is believed it all started in Egypt, where the earliest written recordings were found. Why was it such a big part of their culture, and what benefits have been scientifically proven from getting such a treatment? To mention some countries that have this deep within their historical culture; India, Egypt, China, Japan, Greece and Rome.
The Chinese tradition of massage therapy was developed from the combined expertise and methods of doctors in traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners of martial arts, Buddhists and Taoists. The latter viewed touch as essential to their spiritual yoga training. Texts documenting the medical benefits of massage were found in China dating all the way back to 2700 BCE. Athletes in Ancient Greece used massage to get their bodies in peak condition before a competition. Physicians also used massage techniques combined with herbs and essential oils, to treat many medical conditions.
If you are looking for proof that massage have scientifically proven health benefits, you will have no problem finding this. There are tons and tons of studies that goes to show that the “treatment of touch” have positive effects. From easing muscle soreness after exercise to reducing stress, dozens of studies have linked massage with real physical and psychological benefits.
- REDUCES STRESS – This study found that levels of the stress hormone Cortisol dropped by 30% following a massage treatment. This improves your overall feeling of well being and can reduce blood pressure. Massage can also increase levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which is also helpful for those suffering from depression.
- IMPROVES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM – Several studies have also shown the effects massage has on the immune system, this is one of the newer ones. The result shows an improved production of white blood cells, which again results in an overall better health.
- REDUCES PAIN – Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by way of several mechanisms, including relaxing painful muscles, tendons and joints. Such treatment will also stimulate nerve fibres and impeding pain messages to and from the brain – actually mentally helping you to “close down the pain gate”. One of many proven studies, a 2011 study of lower back pain published in the Annals of International Medicine found that Swedish massage or deep tissue massage can help alleviate chronic lower back pain. Another study, published in Complementary Therapies, showed a reduction in hand pain and an improvement in grip strength among people who had four weekly hand massage sessions and did self-massage at home. They also slept better and had less anxiety and depression than people in the control group who didn’t receive hand massage.
- REDUCES INFLAMMATION – Just 10 minutes of massage can actually reduce inflammation and help your body recover more quickly. A study published in Science Translational Medicine in 2012 backs this up further with the discovery that massage greatly relieves sore muscles after physical exercise. Furthermore this discovery is an interesting read – of massage actually reducing damage to the muscle fibres.
The next time you are considering treating yourself to a massage, you should do so with a clear conscience – it doesn’t only feel good but will also contribute to better health – both physically and mentally.