stress relief

One of the most remarkable ways to deal with stress is by getting a massage. Either by a handheld massager or a massage chair, on a professional masseur’s table, or with a massage friend, it is a phenomenal means that can soothe your body and melt away the stress of the day.  

Massage does improve circulation by delivering oxygen to our body’s cells and lowering cortisol levels, which in turn helps diminish stress.

There are many options for massage therapy. However, for stress relief, in particular, consider the following:

  • Swedish Massage: This style relaxes the entire body with long, smooth, gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart, which releases tension in muscles and breaks up muscle knots, enhancing circulation, stretching tendons, and lowering the blood pressure.
  • Ayurvedic Massage: Popularized in India, this is one of the world’s best massages for stress relief, using herbs and natural oils.  Also utilized in this style is a muslin pouch filled with warm cooked rice with herbs, placed on specific nerve ending locations.
  • Thai Massage: The ancient Thai system is based on the body’s meridian; this massage style combines acupressure, Ayurvedic principles, and with assisted yoga positions.
  • Hot Stone Massage: Volcanic stones are heated and laid on several prominent locations across the body to loosen up muscles and promote relaxation, easing stress.
  • Head Massage: Focusing on thin muscles on the scalp that holds a significant amount of tension, this style is an incredibly relaxing form of head massage that incorporates Indian oils like amla and Brahmi into the massage therapy. 
  • Aromatherapy Massage: Aromatic oils and lotions play an important function in this massage. Scents provide an extra stimulation of the senses because the nostrils are attached to the limbic system, which is an area of the brain that controls emotions and influences the nervous system and hormones.
  • Acupressure Massage: aka Auricular, this massage focuses on the ears and their pressure points that correspond with the central nervous system, encouraging the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural stress relievers, as well as natural pain relievers.
  • Lomi Massage: A style developed in Hawaii, Lomi massage is a style that is usually done with two masseurs. It is a really hands-on technique!
  • Kalari Massage: This style is the opposite of hand-on because it is done using the masseur’s feet and herbal oils. It is good for improving flexibility and releasing endorphins.

Many people think of massage chairs as luxurious pieces of furniture, but they are so much more than that and with offerings other than occasional muscle relaxation. Numerous clinical studies show significant improvement in blood circulation, immunity response, muscle recovery, and managing hypertension.

Is massage good for stress relief?

Generally, massage is considered part of integrative medicine and is increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of conditions that may include the following but not limited to:

  1. Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
  2. Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension
  3. Improving energy and alertness
  4. Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  5. Anxiety
  6. Digestive disorders
  7. Fibromyalgia
  8. Headaches
  9. Insomnia related to stress
  10. Low back pain
  11. Myofascial pain syndrome
  12. Nerve pain
  13. Soft tissue strains or injuries
  14. Sports injuries
  15. Temporomandibular joint pain
  16. Upper back and neck pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection.  Despite its benefits, massage is not meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you are trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

Massage therapy increases endorphin levels – conceivably the most valuable aspect of massage. Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ chemicals that run through the body, increasing their levels, inducing positive results. Among other benefits, increasing endorphin levels has been associated with swifter recovery, reduced pain, and reduced anxiety.

While more research is definitely needed to confirm the benefits of massage, studies have found massage may also be helpful to do the following:

  1. Lessen depression and anxiety
  2. Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow
  3. Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin
  4. Increase joint flexibility
  5. Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation
  6. Paresthesia and nerve pain
  7. Reduce spasms and cramping
  8. Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller
  9. Arthritis
  10. Relieve migraine pain 

Risks of massage

Massage may not be appropriate if you have:

  • Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
  • Burns or healing wounds
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Infections
  • Broken bones (fractures)
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Very low platelet count

Some forms of massage can make you feel like to have taken a beating and are bit sore the next day. However, a massage should not necessarily be painful or uncomfortable. Should any part of your massage not feel right or is just plain painful, say something immediately.  The serious problems that might happen during a massage, are usually from too much pressure.

Consider getting your own massage chair from top brands like Osaki, Infinity, and Zarifa USA

Of course, not everyone has access or the number of resources to go to a masseuse.  One solution may be to look into massage chairs as an alternative therapy that could save time and money over the long haul.   A good massage chair should be designed to provide some measure of pain relief and relaxation without the need for person-to-person interaction. Some people would agree that opting to go with a massage chair as a potential means to ease their chronic pain/stress allows the user to get a massage in the privacy of their home, on their time, and on their own specific schedule.   

The right massage chair can provide immediate relief to help combat the physiological side effect of stress by assisting the body to relax, which alleviates mental pressure and stress. In addition, the chairs boost the immune system, helping the body to fight against impurities and diseases.  The benefits can be life-changing and immensely improve the quality of life for patients, making massage chairs a viable aspect of personal therapy.

Talk to a healthcare provider first before considering massage for stress; ask about the number of treatments that might be needed, the cost and type, and the insurance coverage, if any.  Despite its benefits, massage is not meant to replace regular medical care, and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans already in place. 

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