If you've ever had a massage, you know that you can start to feel better within minutes. We are biologically wired to respond to welcome human touch. The massage therapist begins to spread oil over your back. Skilled hands begin to massage tight muscles. Right away, you feel better and begin to slip into a state of relaxation. That alone is worth the price of admission. But there's more!
People come to massage for a variety of reasons. Many come primarily for relaxation and wellness. Experts estimate that at least 80% of doctor office visits are for health problems that are caused or aggravated by stress. Headaches, backaches, and many other of life's most common complaints are aggravated by stress. Anything we can do to counteract and alleviate the effect of stress is going to have a beneficial effect on our health. In The End of Stress As We Know It, author Bruce McEwen describes the effects that chronic exposure to stress hormones have on the body. Among other things, continued elevated levels of these hormones lead to higher cholesterol, a higher incidence of Type II diabetes, and increased accumulation of belly fat.
Sore muscles from overexertion respond quickly to the right kind of massage. Chronic muscle aches can often be alleviated by the right kind of massage. Athletes find that regular massage can help to naturally improve their performance and minimize injuries by eliminating unnecessary tightness in muscles.
The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School has conducted over a hundred studies documenting the beneficial effects of massage. TRI has found that massage therapy improves weight gain in premature infants, enhances attentiveness, alleviates depressive symptoms, reduces pain, reduces stress hormones, and improves immune system function. In fact, Dr. Tiffany Field of TRI has said that in every study they've undertaken, massage has been shown to be beneficial. That's amazing.
We don't need to wait for scientists to confirm what we already know from our own experience. Massage feels good and it's good for you.