Most city jobs require us to either sit for hours in front of computers while aimlessly banging on the keyboard slouched on an uncomfortable computer chair. Some of us with more active work or lifestyle needs us to walk around or be on foot for hours! Do you know what this means? Yep, a day at the spa to get a deep tissue back massage.
After a long workweek, you deserve to relax, eat some good food, and of course, get a massage. Have you ever wondered why massage is so good and pleasurable? Well, did you know that it’s not just good and pleasurable? It’s also good for your health!
The Origins of Massage Therapy
Massage is not something that the human race invented in the present century. Anthropological evidence shows that massage therapy has been practiced by the ancient Chinese since 2700BCE. If you translate that timeline to something that we can easily comprehend, a fad that originated in 2700BCE is around 4700 years ago!
Egyptian hieroglyphics show that they have practiced massage therapy as part of their medical tradition 2500BCE. What do you know? Transportation during that era from China to Egypt is quite a lifelong mission with a marginal positive result. It would be highly unlikely that the Egyptians copied their techniques from the Chinese! So, it’s safe to say that Egyptians have formulated this technique by themselves.
The most recent massage techniques practiced in India dates back to around 1500-500 BCE. But some experts say that this ancient Hindi art roots as far back as 3000BCE! Again, that’s 5000 years away from our present time!
Although different massage techniques have been with us since ancient times, it’s only in the 1800s that it gained exponential popularity. Today, spa and massage therapy clinics are everywhere and can be easily availed. Thanks to technology, most types of massage therapies around the globe are within reach.
Even without advanced evaluative tools and extensive research, massage has been embedded in society and has been used as a form of intervention to promote wellness. Ancient people have appreciated its benefits even when they don’t have the means to measure how effective they are.
Well, I know, even without the complicated research and evaluation techniques, most of you would agree that deep tissue massage therapies are relaxing. Without telling you how much health benefits you get from a massage, you would still go for a massage, right?
For one, massages are therapeutically pleasurable. Just thinking and writing about massage makes me want to get one right away!
Now, to justify why you need a massage, here are some of the vital health benefits you get from it.
1. Drastically improves your mood.
After a relaxing massage, you immediately feel good. That alone is an easy explanation of why a massage improves your mood. Before we have been able to measure stress through the hormones in the blood, a testimony that a massage is good is enough to make you want to try it.
But, with advanced techniques and extensive research, it has been proven that there is a decrease of an average of 31% cortisol (a hormone that is secreted when the body is stressed), a 28% increase in serotonin (a happy hormone that relaxes and helps you become sleepy), and a 31% increase in dopamine (another happy hormone that increases your focus).
This leads to benefit number 2;
2. Improves sleep.
The hormone serotonin is heavily involved in the body’s state of wakefulness. During wakeful moments, the amount of serotonin in the body is decreased. As we get drowsy, there is a remarkable increase in serotonin. So, an increase in the level of serotonin greatly improves the quality and onset of sleep.
One simple evidence about the increase in serotonin is that fell asleep during a massage. Sounds like you?
3. Eases anxiety and depression.
The same hormones that increased on the research cited in number 1 both contribute to improving your mood. Dopamine and serotonin, together with endorphins and oxytocin, increases your general feeling happiness.
It would be quite difficult to measure what makes you feel good, but, science has measured the hormones responsible for that good feeling. Therefore, increasing your happy hormones through a massage is a great way to relax your mind and ease that anxiety.
4. Promotes muscular healing.
Our blood carries nutrients throughout the body. It brings nourishment to sore muscles for recovery. Now, a better blood supply easily equates to faster and more efficient healing. Even with basic non-complicated science, we can easily explain that stimulating sore or injured muscles will increase blood flow on that area.
A massage therapy greatly increases the blood flow on target muscles through manual manipulation, friction, and heat. This is why athletes get so much deep tissue back massages! I know you have had a rough week and gotten your back sore. A massage would improve your recovery!
5. Improves defense against sickness.
Although it may not be immediately evident, some papers have found out an increase in the blood’s level of lymphocyte on people receiving regular massage therapy sessions. Lymphocytes a type of white blood cell that is responsible for boosting the immune system. This helps fend off foreign bodies in the blood that may potentially cause sickness.
This health benefit is not something you get after a single massage. So, you can use this reason to have more regular massage therapy!
Fun Massage Facts
If the health benefits of massage are not enough to make you want to get one, here are some other interesting things you may not know about a massage.
- A 60-minute deep tissue massage therapy session can give you a general relaxed and happy feeling that lasts for 7 to 8 hours? Well, isn’t that fun?
- Massage therapy can also lower the occurrence of tension headaches.
- While getting a massage, your heart rate gradually decreases as your muscles become more relaxed.
- Different types of massage have varying effects on the body.
- A deep tissue massage greatly increases the rate of muscular healing.
- Massage therapy can help increase the rate of recovery from injury. You may not know it, but many athletes receive massage therapies for faster injury recovery.
- During ancient times, massage therapy is used, in conjunction with other traditional medicine, to cure illnesses.
- Regular massage therapy can help improve flexibility and posture.
- Simply massaging your carotid artery can lower your blood pressure remarkably.
Massage Therapy Do’s and Don’ts
Before getting to a spa or a massage clinic, it is important that you make some preparations accordingly, especially if it is your first time. Here are some guidelines you may want to follow.
Before the session
Limit your food intake to a minimum.
If you need to eat before going to the spa, make sure you don’t fill your stomach to the brim. You will be asked to lie flat on your stomach and assume other awkward positions that would be uncomfortable if you have your stomach full.
Take a shower if you can.
If you have time, it would be best to take a shower before going to the clinic. This will put you on a more relaxed state in anticipation of the massage. A warm shower opens up your pores too.
Drink lots of fluids before the massage.
Massage therapy will disperse your blood flow throughout the body. Make sure you are well hydrated to increase your blood volume to its optimum and avoid nausea during massage therapy.
Limit caffeinated beverage a few hours before your therapy.
One of the obvious goals of getting a massage is relaxation. A caffeinated beverage can increase your wakefulness and defeat relaxation. So, it’s best to limit caffeine or any stimulating drink before getting a massage.
Empty your bladder.
Right before your massage therapy, make sure that you have emptied your bladder. It can be a little awkward to halt the therapy to take a bladder break. It’s best to empty your bladder before the therapy starts to avoid disturbance.
During the session
Leave your gadgets behind.
Bringing your phone and listening to some podcast or music may be a good idea but it’s not recommended. To have a great experience, it can be best to leave your gadgets behind and be physically and mentally present during the session.
Leaving your gadgets in the locker can help you increase your mindfulness during the massage and appreciate the therapy better.
Communicate with the therapist.
Don’t hesitate to tell your therapist if the pressure is to light. Tell your masseuse, in a polite manner, if you want to her to increase or decrease the pressure.
Falling asleep is okay.
If you are feeling drowsy, it’s okay to fall asleep. You don’t have to fight off drowsiness to stay awake.
After the session
Give your therapist a tip.
Therapist skill is valuable. Bid your thanks. If you had a great time, don’t forget to give your masseuse a tip.
You may not have felt it, but you had some insensible fluid loss during the session. Drink a glass of warm water to rehydrate. Cold water might be a little uncomfortable on the stomach and can jolt you from your relaxed state. If you aren’t a fan of drinking warm water, at least have it at room temperature.
If you only had a light snack before your massage, you may be a little hungry by this time. Take another light snack to avoid having low blood sugar.
On your next visit
If you had fun and your therapist made you feel good, you can book her another time. Set an appointment for your next visit to make sure that your therapist is available during that time. Follow the guidelines above and arrive a few minutes before your appointment.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to carve out time to set an appointment with the massage therapy clinic. I know, I feel you. When you have too much stuff going on in your life, it’s easy to forego these simple things for progress.
If you truly don’t have the luxury of time to pay the local spa a visit, you can try self-massage instead. There are a lot of options you could choose from. A handheld massager is one great way to get a massage at the comfort of your home.
They are portable and easy to use. You simply plug it and place it where you need it. Some models are battery operated so you won’t be tangled with cables while having a massage. This is a great solution and a good way to relieve muscle soreness and tightness at home.
A foam roller is a great massage tool that you can also do at home by yourself. It requires some anatomical familiarity to hit those target muscles. You can watch some video clips on how to use them properly to maximize the effect.
Foam rollers are popular among athletes and help relieve pain and promote muscle recovery.
You don’t have to suck it in and suffer from chronic muscle soreness. There’s a therapeutic way to manage and eventually get rid of lower back pain and other muscular pain. And while you are getting that treatment, you also get a lot of health benefits that a massage brings!
A deep tissue back massage can help reduce soreness and promote muscular healing. A visit to the spa or a massage therapy clinic is all you need. Don’t hesitate to book an appointment or buy a few gadgets that you can use at home for self-massage. If you can’t go to the clinic, at least you can relax at home with a foam roller or a handheld massager.