I remember my first professional massage. I thought I died and went to heaven. At only 12, I didn’t realize how much tension I carried around—until I left that sweet-smelling, softly lit massage therapy office in Philadelphia.
Massage often feels like the most indulgent of indulgences. You come in feeling tense and leave feeling like a wet noodle. It might not come as too much of a surprise that something that makes you feel so good is actually great for you, too. The health benefits of massage have been celebrated since 2700 BC, and today, massage continues to boost health and improve lives.
An immune system powerhouse
Massage isn’t just a spa treatment. A growing body of evidence indicates that massage therapy can benefit the immune system. One study of HIV-positive adolescents shows that kids who received massage therapy showed enhanced immune function in just 12 weeks, and, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage can improve health in people with compromised immune systems. Another study indicates that breast cancer patients who had regular massage therapy had reduced anxiety, a boost in serotonin, and an increase of immune-strengthening white blood cells.
Regular massage can also improve sleep quality. According to Sleep Review Magazine, massage therapy helps people with insomnia-related stress, as well as people with psychiatric disorders, fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, and lower back pain. Regular massage therapy has even led to a decrease in chronic pain and fatigue. Sign us up!
Get your happiness hormones
Massage not only helps you feel amazing, but it also decreases feelings of stress by lowering cortisol levels in your body. In the meantime, massage releases “happiness hormones,” such as dopamine and serotonin. It’s no wonder that massage can significantly reduce anxiety and pain! It also helps people with emotional disorders and can mark huge improvements in patients with eating disorders.
How often should you get a professional massage?
When it comes to massage, don’t be afraid to splurge a little bit. You should be getting regular massages, as one massage in a blue moon isn’t going to help you much (even though it’ll feel amazing).
At first, try for once a month, but plan for even more than that if you’re trying to treat stress or tight muscles. Book frequent massages if you’re pregnant, just had a baby, suffer from chronic pain, or are under a lot of stress.
Massage at home: partaking with your partner
Touch is powerful. Massage should be a regular occurrence in the bedroom. Grab yourself some high-quality massage oils, light some candles, and indulge in a stress-busting activity that is sure to increase intimacy, boost feelings of affection, and get you and your partner in the mood for love.
According to a study by Northumbria University in the U.K., massaging your partner can lead to a reduction in stress and improvements in well-being for both partners. This means you don’t even have to be the one receiving a massage—the person giving the massage also reaps benefits in mental and physical well-being, all while showing affection for their partner.
A couple can even experience a boost in intimacy, improved communication, conflict resolution, and quality of life, all through a simple foot massage. So, if you’re looking for a relationship boost, it might be time to break out the massage oils.
The takeaway: Massage is a wonderful choice for a spa day or a night in. Its powerful health benefits are also a great excuse to sneak off to the massage therapist a little more often.