6 Unique Benefits of Massage Therapy!

There is more to massage therapy than feeling relaxed and reducing muscle tension. The circulatory system, immune system, endocrine system and mental health all benefit from myofascial treatment through massage therapy.

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1. It affects endocrine system and hormones

The endocrine system controls hormones, which deal with every body function you can imagine from sex drive to sleep to appetite and emotion. A literature review examining the effect of massage therapy on stress showed a consistent finding of a reduction in salivary cortisol (a stress hormone), heart rate and blood pressure within a single session of between 20 to 30 minutes (Moraska, Pollini, Boulanger, Brooks, & Teitlebaum, 2010). Pain associated with stress was also reduced in patients treated with Thai massage according to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (Buttagat, Eungpinichpong, Chatchawan, & Kharmwan, 2011).

There are many more studies in which massage is found to counteract mild and moderate depression and anxiety. The authors postulate that it is a combination of the relief of stress and human touch that elevates mood as it encourages the release of dopamine and serotonin into the system (Hatayama, Kitamura, Tamura, Nagano, & Ohnuki, 2008).

2. It can help your body detoxify

Everything comes down to circulation… Massage encourages blood to circulate better, improving oxygen delivery and in-turn, aiding in removing waste, lymph and swelling.

3. It counteracts the effect of sitting

Sitting all day is the new normal, but a seated position forces your body to create tension in the shoulders, back and neck. While exercise is a great way to counteract a desk job, the neck, head and shoulders require a little help to remove myofascial tension that exercise and stretches aren’t able to target.

4. It boosts immunity

The body is always busy fighting infection from foreign invaders but when the system is overwhelmed in cases such as cancer, research shows that a measurable boost in immunity occurs following regular massage therapy. In a 2005 study, breast cancer patients showed a marked increase in lymphocytes, natural killer cells and dopamine levels following a 5-week massage therapy program (Hernandez-Reif et al., 2005). Several more studies in adults and children diagnosed with leukemia, diabetes and fibromyalgia all saw improved health measures.

5. It can improve sleep

Insomnia is common among many age groups, but according to research by Hachul, et al (2011), postmenopausal women suffering from insomnia who were treated with therapeutic massage showed better quality of sleep with fewer interruptions.

People in critical care or who are undergoing radiation therapy and chemo therapy may also experience difficulty sleeping. Several studies with these patients have shown that poor sleep quality can be improved with massage therapy.

6. It can counteract headaches

Tension headaches and migraines have long been treated with massage therapy. Muscles and the fascia that surround them attach to the upper neck and base of the skull are often tight and tense, aggravating a headache. A headache induced or exacerbated by stress may be a result of tight jaw or temporal muscles. One of the first randomized control trial published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed a clear improvement in migraine frequency, sleep quality, and perceived stress and coping efficacy in patients who received a weekly massage over a 13-week study (Lawler & Cameron, 2006).

 

Sources

Buttagat, V., Eungpinichpong, W., Chatchawan, U., & Kharmwan, S. (2011). The immediate effects of traditional Thai massage on heart rate variability and stress-related parameters in patients with back pain associated with myofascial trigger points. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 15(1), 15–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.06.005

Hatayama, T., Kitamura, S., Tamura, C., Nagano, M., & Ohnuki, K. (2008). The facial massage reduced anxiety and negative mood status, and increased sympathetic nervous activity. Biomedical Research, 29(6), 317–320. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.29.317

HERNANDEZ-REIF, M., FIELD, T., IRONSON, G., BEUTLER, J., VERA, Y., HURLEY, J., … FRASER, M. (2005). NATURAL KILLER CELLS AND LYMPHOCYTES INCREASE IN WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(4), 495–510. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590523080

Lawler, S. P., & Cameron, L. D. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1), 50–59. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15324796abm3201_6

Moraska, A., Pollini, R. A., Boulanger, K., Brooks, M. Z., & Teitlebaum, L. (2010). Physiological adjustments to stress measures following massage therapy: a review of the literature. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 7(4), 409–18. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nen029

 

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Top 5 Shoulder Mobility exercises

Having trouble with that overhead position? How is your front rack for squats? These are our top 5 shoulder mobility exercises which you can do pre or post-workout!

 

ANATOMY YOU NEED TO KNOW…

As you may know, the shoulder joint is called a ball and socket joint. But this does not fully describe the joint. A ball and socket usually leads people to believe there is some sort of comfy slot (socket) for the arm (ball) to be trapped in. In reality, the shoulder joint is nothing more than two bones somewhat close together and a whole host of soft tissue- muscles and ligaments- criss-crossing across the two, holding them together.

All that soft tissue is bound to lead to problems, even though it is what makes our shoulders so mobile. No other joint can move as freely as the arm does in the shoulder joint. Muscles from the back and chest attach at various points, which means that at any given time a tight muscle is pulling the balanced structure apart, or compressing it in any direction. These tight muscles quickly limit the range of motion of the joint and can eventually lead to some pain, or possibly injury, if they require a compensation elsewhere.

Looking at a persons posture may give an indication of which shoulder is causing more problems, but testing mobility is the best way to find out where improvements should be made.

More than likely, you have some idea of what is and is not mobile enough in your shoulders based on the lifts you have the most trouble with. A combination of stretching and myofascial release techniques can go a long way!

 

HERE ARE OUR TOP 5 SHOULDER MOBILITY EXERCISES:

1. SUPINE LYING OVERHEAD SQUATS

This is probably the most complex of the 5 stretches, but is so effective at opening up the chest. Lying on your back with a foam roller horizontal under your mid back or lower traps. Place a light barbell overhead. Place arms at about 45 degrees out from your body as you would in an overhead squat grip. Maintain your feet flat on the floor and hips up in the air to place your hands and shoulders. Keep your arms extended when you activate the stretch by dipping your hips down towards the floor.

 

2. CORNER STRETCH

Another simple way to loosen up both Pec major muscles at the same time. Find a corner somewhere, and get comfy! Place your arms up in an ‘L’ shape, with elbows and shoulders creating a straight line. Place both forearms up on the wall and gently lean forwards to activate the stretch. Stretch for 2 seconds then release, repeating 8 to 10 times.

 

3. FRONT RACK/BACK RACK STRETCH 

Here, you’ll need to place a bar in a rack at approximately your back squat height. Place hands …  Read the rest of the article here!