Massage Therapy Offers More Than Just Relaxation (Check Out These Great Health Benefits)

Would you be surprised to learn that medical therapy is the top reason most people get a massage? Surveys show that 85% of consumers have used massage for medical reasons, many to relieve pain or as an alternative to opioid and other pain medications.

Medical massage isn’t just a choice made by patients. More doctors are suggesting massage as organizations like the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend it as part of the first line of treatment for conditions like low back pain.

At Chicago Chiropractic Center, we’ve recognized the value of massage for many years, which is why we have licensed massage therapists on staff. We believe massage is a vital part of your comprehensive health care.

How massage affects your body

When you get a massage, whether it’s a relaxing Swedish massage or a deep muscle massage, the pressure applied and the motions used lead to beneficial physiological changes in your body. All these changes work together to stimulate healing and improve your wellness.

Here are a few examples of how massage affects different body systems:

Circulatory system

Massage improves the flow of blood and lymphatic fluids. As a result of better blood flow, every part of your body gets a boost in oxygen and nutrients, which accelerates healing and reduces inflammation. Meanwhile, your lymph system eliminates waste more efficiently. A massage helps reduce fluid buildup (edema) and diminishes bruising.

Musculoskeletal system

Massage reduces muscle tension, stretches tissues, improves range of motion, and releases knots or trigger points in muscles and myofascial tissues. Overall, massage therapy relaxes muscles, diminishes soreness, and can help restore muscle tone.

When these benefits are combined with stimulating your circulatory system, massage becomes a key therapy for treating musculoskeletal injuries. Massage also reduces the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis.

Respiratory system

As massage relaxes your diaphragm and reduces overall tension, it promotes deeper breathing. Additionally, specific types of massage can target certain respiratory problems. For example, a percussive massage clears chest congestion, while trigger point release can relieve sinus pressure. Massage may also help improve lung function in patients with asthma.

Immune system

While more research is needed to determine all the ways massage may enhance your immune system, Swedish massage is known to increase white blood cells, which protect you from disease, and to decrease the amount of inflammatory chemicals.

Therapeutic massage relieves pain

Massage therapy shines when it comes to alleviating pain. In addition to relaxing muscles and improving circulation, studies show that pain is further reduced when moderate massage stimulates pressure receptors or nerves that send pain messages to your brain. Additionally, massage lowers the production of a neurotransmitter called substance P that’s associated with pain.

While massage is recommended as the first line of treatment for lower back pain, it’s beneficial for alleviating pain caused by many conditions including neck pain, neuropathy, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, and tendinitis.

Many patients find that massage brings relief from tension and migraine headaches. In addition to smoothing away the general stress that leads to a tension headache, massage can target trigger points in your neck, shoulders, and head that are the source of headache pain.

Massage lowers anxiety and improves your sleep

Considering the degree of overall relaxation produced by a massage, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it can improve your sleep and reduce anxiety, even in patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

The benefits extend to health conditions, too. For example, massage improves sleep in patients with metastatic cancer and congestive heart failure. Additionally, it reduces anxiety and improves sleep in patients who’ve had cardiac surgery.

Different types of massage provide customized therapy

Our massage therapists have extensive experience in numerous techniques, from the gentle pressure of Swedish massage to targeted trigger point massage and sports massage designed to boost your performance. Drawing from their diverse repertoire of techniques, our therapists create massage treatment that’s customized for your health and relaxation needs.

We also offer specialized massage techniques, such as:

Cupping therapy

This traditional Chinese therapy uses globe-shaped, glass cups. After the open side of the cup is placed against your skin, a vacuum is created inside the cup with enough suction to slightly pull your skin into the cup and hold the cup in place. Cupping therapy boosts blood flow, relaxes tight muscles, and loosens the underlying connective tissue, much like a deep massage.

Hot stone massage and salt stone massage

Smooth stones are warmed and placed on key areas of your body. After the heat has time to relax your muscles, we use the stones to massage the area. While both types of stones offer a relaxing, therapeutic massage, salt stones may help reduce inflammation and gently exfoliate your skin.

If you’re ready to explore the great benefits of massage and learn how it can improve your health, call Chicago Chiropractic Center or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.

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