Advertisements for vacation destinations often paint couples' massages as the premier romantic activity. It's true that massages can be relaxing and sensual, making such sessions ideal gifts come Valentine's Day. Yet, massages aren't just sultry oils and New Age music. They can actually be very good for overall health.
Massage therapy is beneficial in various ways. Massage is no longer just available in upscale health clubs or luxury spas. Massage spas have cropped up in malls, hospitals, clinics, and even office buildings, making massage therapy that much more accessible.
The Mayo Clinic notes that while more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, it may be helpful for a variety of health ailments. In addition to easing sore muscles, reducing joint pain and helping soft tissue strains or injuries, massage can promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and calm feelings of stress. Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This helps to lift spirits and can often lower blood pressure. Massage also may help to boost the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with depression.
According to Health magazine, massage also can help promote healthy sleep. It has something to do with the effect of massage on delta waves, which are the brain waves connected to deep sleep. There is some evidence that massage can also increase white blood cell counts, promoting improved immunity.
Many people rely on massages to relieve pain. According to a report published in 2011 in the American College of Physicians' "Annals of Internal Medicine," massage helps people in pain feel and function better than those who do not receive treatment. Massage can alleviate stiffness and pain and promote a better range of motion. And pain relief is not just for the back, arms and legs. Massage can reduce risk for migraines and decrease pain from tension headaches.
Massage even has beauty benefits. Rubbing the face and scalp can promote blood flow and encourage lymphatic drainage. This can add vitality to the complexion and plump up the skin. Dull hair may appear more shiny and revitalized.
People can explore different types of massage and experiment with what works best for their ailments. Everything from Swedish massage to reflexology is offered at massage clinics.
Because massage involves being partially or completely undressed and having a massage therapist touch various areas of the body, it is important to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Make sure that the therapist is fully certified and qualified. It also helps if he or she is properly vetted by the spa or clinic. Therapists will heed a person's preferences with regard to the massage, only concentrating on the areas specified. If anything feels uncomfortable or a client prefers not to have an area of the body touched, he or she simply needs to address that with the therapist at the beginning of the session.
The gift of a massage session can be romantic and improve one's overall health.