| By Michelle Pezzato
While spas are known for ensuring guests have a luxurious experience during appointments, it is important to remember that many of the services offered at spas — like massages — offer real health benefits.
While it may seem like an indulgence to take the time to habitually receive the right style of massage, it can make a big impact on both mental and physical health for many if performed by a trained professional. Earlier this year, TIME magazine shared, “A … study on massage found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped 31 percent following a rubdown, while levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin increased roughly 30 percent.”
Remember, like any other health activity, before you embark on a new treatment be sure to consult with your doctor. If you are considering massage, here are some things to keep in mind.
Types of massages
Some people avoid massage because they aren’t sure where to start. Identifying the right type and length of massage is a key first step, and the staff at your selected spa can assist. The three most common types of massage offered include:
Swedish: A gentle massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibrations, and tapping. This massage is used to relax and energize.
Deep: Slower, more forceful strokes are used to target deep layers of muscle and connective tissue. This massage is used to help with muscle damage and injury.
Trigger point: Areas of tight muscle fibers that can form after injuries or the overuse of a muscle are the focus of this style.
There are many more massage types available; make sure to be honest about your concerns and expectations to ensure you receive the correct one.
The benefits of regular massage go beyond finding relaxation; it improves physical and mental health in many different ways. Most people use massage therapy as a treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension; however, according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have found that massages are able to aid in the treatment of a multitude of health problems. Stress, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains or injuries, and temporomandibular joint pain all can be impacted by massage.
Massage improves our cardiovascular health by detoxifying our bodies and increasing lymph and blood circulation. For this reason, you always should drink plenty of water after your service — more if it’s a deep tissue massage. Massage increases metabolism, which in turn helps your body digest and use the food you consume, making weight loss more achievable.
Massage also helps you tone. For example, as your massage therapist performs a Swedish massage, specific massage strokes stimulate regeneration at the cellular level by increasing blood flow and oxygen. In turn, this stimulates our fibroblast cells and encourages collagen production and elastin support. It’s like a cellular workout at the gym.
The American Heart Association recommends utilizing a massage as form of reward, especially when motivating yourself to lead a more active lifestyle or when quitting smoking. Celebrating milestones is important when it comes to health and lifestyle changes, and regular massages will help to rejuvenate your body and energy levels.
When it comes to your health, regular massages should not be considered a replacement for treatment, but certainly can be a part of a holistic plan. Receiving a massage when coupled with positive health goals and lifestyle can work together to create a healthier, more energized you.