Massage was once considered a luxury - something you would enjoy at a Spa or on holiday, but the benefits of this therapy are now widely documented, and it is more common for people to incorporate regular massage into their health and wellbeing regime.
One of the most common and beneficial areas for a massage is the back, neck and shoulders. As the nerves all connect via the spinal cord, this is a great way to relieve tension as well as stress. Here are seven other good reasons to get a back massage:
1. Relieves Back Pain
Back pain is the most common reason for people seeking massage. After sitting at a desk all day, a long commute or a strenuous workout, your back muscles are probably tense with repetitive use. Repetitive motion or immobility may cause neck and shoulder pain, and sitting for long periods can start to affect the lower back too.
A good massage can release some of the tension that has been building up, release the pain and feel more comfortable. In fact, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine discovered a massage was more effective than other therapies such as acupuncture and reduced the use of painkillers by 36 per cent.
2. It counteracts all that sitting
In the modern world of work, many of us are gradually moving to a more sedentary lifestyle due to work commitments and desk-bound roles. As a result, the muscles that support the spine become weaker, and we become more susceptible to the risk of injury. Stress tends to accumulate in the neck and shoulders, but for desk workers, weakness in the lower back can also be an issue.
Back massage can help to strengthen the spine and improve our posture, counteracting the imbalance caused by sitting for prolonged periods. Scheduling a regular massage will help you to be pain-free, and therefore more productive, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
3. Relieves Headaches
Regular massage helps to relax and de-stress the body. This alternative method reduces the chances of experiencing migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points.
It can also ease the pressure brought on during a migraine or tension-related headaches. By focusing on the neck, shoulders, and head, massage can decrease the pain and discomfort brought on by a migraine or tension headaches.
4. Improves Sleep
We all need sleep for optimum performance and good health, but the tension in your back and shoulders may be causing you some difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Massages release the pressure, easing the pain and allowing you to get comfortable enough to rest properly. They also increase your serotonin levels, which naturally encourage a good night's sleep.
A 2012 article from the source explains that women who receive a "slow stroke back massage" for just 3-minutes slept 36-more minutes than those who didn't get the same treatment. That's 12-minutes of extra sleep per 1-minute of massage! This source suggests 3-minutes is all it takes for your body to start producing feelings of "calm".
5. Increases Flexibility
A massage can help heal the tissues and muscles that have become tight, weak or atrophied, and will be the solution to improving your range of motion.
Whether you're an avid athlete who is always putting stress on your knees or a middle-aged woman who has lost some range of motion in your hips, staying flexible is key. By working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massages can improve your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone.
6. Eases maternity and labour pain
Massage stimulates the circulation of blood, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and major organs of the body. A back massage during pregnancy encourages healthy circulation of blood between a Mother and her baby, as well as preventing a common fluid build-up and swelling in the joints.
Back massage during pregnancy also helps to relieve anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression, and alleviate muscle aches and pains in joints.
During childbirth, back massage may help women feel less pain during labour and make delivery easier, while also reducing the length of hospital stay after childbirth.
7. It feels good
One of the best benefits of a back massage is that it feels good. Our skin feels pressure, pain, pleasure, heat, cold and has a great impact on the body. When we experience the intentional touch of therapy, as well as boosting the happy hormones, we lower the cortisol hormone, which controls our stress response.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that patients who were depressed and anxious were much more relaxed and happy, and had reduced stress levels after massage.