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Rediff.com  » Getahead » IMAGES: 8 Health benefits of body massage

IMAGES: 8 Health benefits of body massage

Last updated on: July 22, 2011 15:24 IST


Photographs: Rediff Archives

It probably goes without saying that there are more people in this world who prefer getting a massage than giving one. But besides being (extremely) relaxing a good body massage has a lot of helth benefits.

Body massage has become a separate industry with its growing demand and popularity. Body massages by the use of Ayurvedic products are very popular in Kerala.

Every year, there is a huge influx of foreign visitors in Kerala and most of them opt for this healing therapy which is based on touch and pressure.

These two factors work together to produce healing effects on mind and body. The therapy has the potential to heal disorders like body pain, arthritis and nerve problems. So what are the specific health benefits which you can derive from a body massage?

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Reduces Body Pain


Photographs: Courtesy Four Fountains spa

It has been observed that rubbing the affected area can block the pain signals from reaching the brain. This idea is called the "Gate Control Theory".

The path of travel of the pain signals starts from the affected area, to the spinal cord and then ultimately to the brain. When the affected area is rubbed, other impulses also reach the brain via the same nerve. This clogs the pain signal and the pain impulse gets reduced.

A study conducted in 2003 showed that massage worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain, reducing the need for painkiller by 36 percent.

Reduces Stress

Image: Karishma Tanna at Shilpa Shetty's spa
Photographs: Rajul Hegde

Massage includes giving the right pressure at specific points to allow the senses to relax. The system of nerves is interconnected and so when a pressure point blocks a nerve, other nerves in the system get affected as well.

Massages help in the release of these pressure points making you feel stress free.

Also, several studies show that massage reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol by up to 50 percent while boosting the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. This can help relieve depression and anxiety.

Relaxes Muscles


Photographs: Pattymooney / Creative Commons

Body pain is a common condition observed due to pressure of work life, incorrect posture and tension of daily life. Tension in the muscles and reduced circulation of blood can lead to body pain.

Reduced blood circulation cuts the supply of oxygen in the muscles and this condition supports the development of body pain. A body massage increases blood circulation and helps release tension from the muscles.

This facilitates the supply of oxygen in the muscles and may help them heal faster. This leads to a reduction in the body pain.

Adds a Healthy Glow to the Skin


Photographs: Marcin Bober/Creative Commons

Massaging improves the blood circulation of the body and this influences the availability of vital nutrients to all the cells. This in turn, adds a healthy glow to the skin.

Additionally, during the process of massaging, the dead skin gets removed and the skin assumes a fresh appearance. The stress releasing effect of body massages also contributes towards glowing skin.

Improves Quality of Sleep


Photographs: Rama Day Spa / Creative Commons

Regular sessions of therapeutic massage brings a peace of mind and this improves the quality of sleep. While getting a massage therapy, the body assumes a peaceful and a relaxing position.

This allows the systems of the body to unwind completely. Additionally, according to a study conducted at the Touch Research Institute, massage increases the delta waves in your brain which are linked to deep sleep. That's why it's easy to drift off on the massage table.

Enhances range of motion


Photographs: Kerala Tourism

Massage therapies increase the range of motion and bring down the risk of injuries. Frequent sessions bring flexibility to the tight muscle tissues by improving blood circulation.

Boosts Energy


Photographs: Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

Regular massages lead to the rejuvenation of the body's energy. The body relaxes as if it is in the sleep mode during the process of body massaging. This relaxation process boosts up the power of the body for the entire day. Also, the increased blood circulation due to massage increases the the flow of nutrients in your body which can have an overall impact on your energy level.

Helps Cancer Patients

Image: .
Photographs: Guang Niu / Getty Images

Studies have shown that massage can promote relaxation and may help reduce pain, anxiety, nausea, fatigue, or symptoms of depression. It may even help improve the function of your immune system.

A study conducted on 86 women with breast cancer found that women who received two half-hour massages twice a week reported a remarkable decrease in fatigue, mood disturbances, and physical discomfort.

Another three-year-long study conducted on 1,290 cancer patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City found that patients who received regular massage therapy reported 52 percent drop in their anxiety level, 40 percent drop in pain, 41 percent drop in fatigue, 31 percent drop in depression, and 21 percent drop in nausea.

Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition.

Getting a body massage should never be confused with investing in a luxury. In fact, it is an alternative form of treatment. It is a great idea to go for a body massage session once in every week. It is a great way to boost up stamina and energy. And who does not want to reverse the ageing process?