Why you can't afford to not get a massage

(BPT) - Though they may seem like just part of a daily routine — caring for kids, commuting to work, running errands and even getting a good workout in — our lives are busy and our bodies are in constant motion.

To stay healthy and on-the-ready to take on life, many of us try to eat healthier, catch a few extra zzz’s, take our vitamins and exercise more. Many are also making regular massage a part of their overall wellness routine, and therefore incorporating total body care into their lives.

In a one year span from July 2013 to July 2014, approximately 32.6 million adults in America had at least one massage. With all the benefits massage therapy offers, from boosting energy to easing headache tension, it’s no wonder 90 percent of respondents to a survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.

Massages make you happy. When life becomes stressful, your body reacts by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that fuel our “fight-or-flight” responses. Adrenaline and cortisol increase your heart rate and blood sugar and over time, as everyday stressors occur, the constant release and buildup of these hormones can cause negative physical reactions ranging from headaches to problems sleeping. Massage therapy can help alleviate these symptoms.

Research shows massage therapy can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and also relax your muscles. A clinical study also shows just a single 1 ½ hour session can lower your heart rate, insulin and cortisol levels, all of which explain why massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand. As an added bonus, massages also increase your body’s production of endorphins, a naturally occurring “happy” chemical that produces pleasurable feelings and increased relaxation.

They relieve aches and pains. If you sit at a desk all day, chances are you have certainly found your neck or shoulders a bit stiff when it’s time to head home. Many of these aches and pains can come from poor posture or repetitive movements, like twisting around to answer a phone. Over time, this habit can cause your body extra stress, leading to spinal misalignment, joint damage and fatigued muscle groups that can weaken over time.

Regular massage therapy can go a long way in easing those daily muscle pains. Massage relaxes and loosens sore muscle groups, giving your body the freedom to position itself in its natural-and pain-free-posture.

Massages can improve muscle recovery. Whether you’re a workout warrior or making your way back to “get fit” mode, many of us tend to treat our bodies like machines when we’re working out. It’s not a bad thing to want to get in shape; regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. But over time, getting back into the fitness swing of things can cause slower recovery for the muscle groups you use the most, and injure other areas you haven’t worked out in some time.

Just a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion, according to a 2010 study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Massages can also reduce post-workout recovery, giving you the freedom to get back to your workout routine that much faster.

Massages offer benefits at any age. The elderly population (those 65 years or older) numbered 44.7 million in 2013. Many of today’s seniors are enjoying longer lives thanks to incorporating healthier living into their lifestyles through diet, exercise, stretching and even massage therapy.

Regular massage therapy helps those in this age group because it enhances blood circulation, increases joint mobility and even improves posture, all without causing unnecessary friction to their skin. Also contributing to both physical and mental well-being, the gentle touches and light application of oil or lotions used can also relieve anxiety and even comfort to touch-deprived elderly clients.

As we all re-examine our wellness choices, massage therapy is shedding the stereotype of being an occasional indulgence. Instead, it’s become a highly integral body maintenance experience that offers any number of health benefits when consistently incorporated with other total body care actions.

Before you say “I can’t afford to get regular massages,” know that you can. Massage Envy offers membership rates you can fit into your budget, so regular massage can be a part of your wellness routine. With over 1,100 locations, there’s probably one nearby with a friendly staff ready to welcome you.



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