By Dr. James Rouse, N.D.
Nature offers us amazing healing powers. And when it comes to reducing stress, increasing relaxation, and overall, improving health and wellness, regular massage therapy is one of my most recommended natural treatment options for patients.
In just 15 minutes a day, a therapeutic massage can make a significant difference in how you feel, whether your goal is to reduce pain in specific parts of your body, sleep better at night, reduce stress, or increase energy levels.
So what are the specific benefits of massage therapy and how can you make it a part of your daily life?
- Reduce stress: According to a group of researchers at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Wash., massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Those changes slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and block your nervous system’s pain receptors. (Source: Health.com, “Massage, It’s Real Medicine,” by Kristyn Kusek Lewis, March 8, 2007
- Increase circulation: The movements of massage cause blood to flush in and out of muscles and joints, increasing the delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients. This process can, in some cases, aid recovery time from injuries and provide the entire body with a greater sense of wellness.
- Improve immunity: Studies show people with high stress levels get sick more often than the general population. Beyond the stress-reducing and sleep-promoting benefits of massage, regular massage has been shown to help increase the immune systems cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of t-cells, which improves the body’s overall immune functioning.
- Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure (or hypertension) is when the blood moves through the arteries at a higher pressure than normal, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. Regular massage helps to combat the effects of stress – a leading contributor to high blood pressure – helping to lower blood pressure and maintain the body’s natural sense of wellness.
- Reduce pain: Regular massage improves blood flow to oxygen-starved muscles and prompts the body to release endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller. The results are faster recovery and improved range of motion. Massage therapy is ideal for back pain and neck pain sufferers, people with arthritis, and other painful conditions.
- Improve sleep: The movements of massage cause blood to flush in and out of muscles and joints, increasing the delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients. This process can, in some cases, aid recovery time from injuries and provide the entire body with an improved sense of well-being.
MAKING REGULAR MASSAGE THERAPY A PART OF YOUR DAILY LIFE
Busy schedules can often make people shy away from committing to a regular massage therapy regimen. One way to overcome this challenge is to purchase an in-home massage chair, which doesn’t require scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist. Due to improved robotic massage technology, today’s massage chairs offer many similar therapeutic benefits of a real, professional massage therapy experience.
It is also much easier to make massage a part of your regular lifestyle routine by scheduling a consistent time/day to dedicate to your massage therapy regimen. When seeing your massage therapist, ask if you can schedule your treatments on the same day/time week after week, etc. Or if using a massage chair at home, find a quiet and relaxing place to retreat and make sure that your loved ones know not to interrupt you at that specifically scheduled time.
Finally, realize that by including massage therapy in your regular routine you are making a commitment to your health and well being, which can in itself be very motivational.
About the Author
Dr. James Rouse, A.K.A “Dr. James”, is a naturopathic physician with extensive credentials in the wellness field including post-doctorate work in acupuncture, Chinese medicine and transpersonal psychology. He is also a healthcare consultant to broadcast news stations, an iron man triathlete, a certified yoga instructor and an author. His television program, Optimum Wellness, is seen throughout the country on NBC affiliate channels and he recently teamed up with Izze bottled-soda company founder Greg Stroh to create Mix 1, an all-natural protein and antioxidant drink. Dr. Rouse speaks nationally and internationally to physicians, corporations, and the general public in the areas of medicine, health, wellness, and motivation and is the author of several books including Nourish, Grow Your Life From Average to Amazing, Health Solutions for Stress, Health Solutions for Sleep, Health Solutions for Restored Energy and Health Solutions for Weight Loss in addition to numerous articles that have appeared in popular magazines nationwide. He is also a member of the Human Touch® Wellness Council, a group of esteemed experts dedicated to educating the public about the various health and wellness benefits of regular massage, proper posture, stress relief, and other lifestyle practices.
Human Touch® is a company focused on infusing health and wellness into everyday lives through high-quality, design-oriented and award-winning massage chairs, Zero-Gravity Perfect Chair® Recliners and other wellness products and solutions. Human Touch® products are available at back care specialty stores, fine furniture stores across the country, through international retailers and distributors in more than 40 countries, as well as online at www.humantouch.com.