For decades, massage has been touted as a method of stress relief, but unless you’ve experienced the benefits of a good massage yourself, you might be skeptical.

What Is Massage?

Very simply put, massage therapy is when the masseuse manipulates the tissues, muscles and tendons in someone.

This is usually done using the hands and fingers, but there are assorted methods of massage that involve everything from special tools to actually using feet and elbows to maneuver the recipient`s body.

There are several reasons that your muscles need to be stretched and massaged . . . the main one being that with tension and stress, they tend to shorten and knot up, often causing pain. Tense muscles are the most common cause of headaches, so easing them out can help with recurring headaches, as well as other common issues.

How Massage Benefits You

Each style of massage is designed to create a different effect. Some are more strenuous than others, such as Thai massage, which involves stretching and plenty of participation by the person receiving the massage. Others, including hot stone massage, tend to be more passive and focus more on breathing and relaxation. Only you can decide which type is best for you.

Massage therapy, in general, however, is something that can reduce stress and ease the tension that the muscles are holding. Multiple studies have been done on the benefits of this type of therapy, and it has been proven that the simple power of touch is very beneficial.

Here are just a few of the amazing benefits of massage therapy:

– Strengthens the immune system
– Increases range of motion
– Eases the pain of sports injuries
– Mental relaxation
– Physical relaxation
– Stress reduction
– Less anxiety
– Lowers blood pressure

The effects of massage therapy are many because the treatment involves more than just rubbing the muscles. Physical touch tends to relax people, and the rhythmic motion of a massage encourages the body and mind to calm and let go of the anxiety and stress that has built up. This is part of the reason a massage session needs to last so long . . . an hour or more is the usual length needed to truly relieve stress and to give you the break from problems needed to refresh the body and mind.

Manipulating, stretching and pressing muscles helps to release hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which affect your mood. It`s much more difficult to feel stressed out and anxious when you`re happy! This is the main reason people enjoy massages so much though the actual physical contact with another human being also has a huge impact on how you feel. We underestimate our need to be touched, but it can be a very powerful thing.

Does massage therapy really work for stress? Yes, it does. If you haven`t experienced this yet, then it might be time to book a good massage. Keep in mind that not every masseuse is going to be a good one, so talk to friends, get recommendations and then try it out for yourself. You`ll be pleasantly surprised at how relaxing it is to have someone work on you with expert bodywork techniques.

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