If you’re searching for a “real” reason to get a massage, it exists. Massages are often labeled as a luxury-only service, but a massage can be an essential part of physical and mental maintenance. Massage therapy feels amazing because the pressure on the muscles and blood vessels triggers the flow of relaxing chemicals. Stress, exercise, sleeping habits, posture, digestion and diet all play a role the necessity of massage.
Sometimes your body needs a little push in the right direction. Massaging even on a superficial level activates blood flow and hormone function. Your body has all of the machinery to calm and relax itself, but it needs energy to make it work. Massage therapy is exactly that — energy transferred from one source to another.
It’s only the beginning. Massage therapy in and of itself does not directly reduce pain and inflammation of muscles and soft tissue. Instead, it promotes enough blood flow for the body to wake up and get things moving on a molecular level. A decent amount of the hormone vasopressin is immediately blocked, opening up the blood vessels and decreasing blood pressure. Ever get up from a massage table and feel a little woozy? That’s because your body’s systems were physically manipulated. Things were moved around a little and your body is trying to play catch up while working off of a very low blood pressure.
>> Read more: 10 Things to Help Reduce Your High Blood Pressure
Lactic acid ain’t so bad. It gets a bad rap because of its false association with lasting muscle soreness after an intense workout or chasing a toddler up and down the stairs all day. Lactic acid gives you the “burning” feeling when you’re actually exercising, but afterward, the soreness is usually delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It’s a result of microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. No one is really immune to this — it's quite common. Proteins spend hours repairing the fibers, and your body protects them by making them feel sore so you won’t want to use them! But sometimes soreness can interfere with the daily routine or posture, and that’s when you need a massage to jump-start repairs. Click here to see if you're dealing with symptoms of DOMS.
Hit the reset button. For those 15 to 90 minutes of quiet massage time, you’re able to slow your breathing, lower your heart rate and turn off your brain. With the help of a heated table, dim lighting and soothing music, the environment motivates coping techniques for stress, depression and anxiety. In turn, regular massage therapy time correlates with better sleep and improved ability to remain under the stress threshold. (via Alive)
If you’re regularly working out or training for a fitness goal, consider massage therapy as part of your routine. A Swedish massage is the most basic type of therapy, but check out aromatherapy with essential oils as a complete holistic approach. Deep tissue, trigger point or myofascial release (like foam rolling) types of body work are more intense and isolate very specific areas. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of pressure. Don’t feel guilty booking a massage for yourself! It’s a legitimate part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and you can't argue with that.