You can stop thinking of that once-a-year trip to the spa as a luxury—experts agree getting massages as often as once a week can be beneficial to your health. The Touch Research Institute in Miami, the first facility to scientifically study the effects of massage, definitively found massage reduces the stress-associated hormone cortisol in the body; increases serotonin, heals pain (including that from childbirth, chronic fatigue, and burns), and improves flexibility and circulation.
Keep up that sort of treatment on a weekly, monthly, or even a several-times-a-year basis, and you’re looking at improved overall mental and physical health.
Cynical? Think of it this way: You don’t wait for your car’s engine to go before you get an oil change—you keep regular appointments to prevent problems. Similarly, keeping a regular massage regimen will reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stiff muscles, and even everyday aches and pains like headaches and fatigue. In fact, the experts agree frequent gentle massage even after an injury is far more beneficial than intermittent deep tissue work.
“Studies have shown effectiveness with massage therapy for low back pain and cancer pain," says John Katomski, a licensed massage therapist (LMT) and faculty member at the Swedish Institute in New York City. “There is some indication that massage can increase the movement and number of white blood cells, suggesting immune system benefits. Research points to some consistent benefits of massage therapy, most notably in the areas of stress reduction, pain reduction and enhanced function of the immune system.”
But before you line up appointments at spas all over town, take caution. For a regular massage schedule, it’s smartest to use the same Licensed Therapist. He or she will get to know your body and problem areas, and will provide you the focused work that produces the greatest effects. You’re certain to feel lighter, more relaxed, and generally happier after a great professional massage, especially one that’s long overdue!
With regularly scheduled sessions, you can expect to see long-lasting health benefits such as a drop in blood pressure, your colds turning less frequent, and your muscles and bones feeling better.