Think of massage as the gift (to yourself!) that keeps on
giving, with benefits you'll feel every day of the week
Congratulations, you survived the holidays! (For some, just
barely, but hey, you still made it.) You made it through the
financial stress, you got the decorations up (and down), you
successfully entertained, and you managed to enjoy some time with
your family, too.
But come Jan. 1, many of us were still reeling from the
stress-no matter how joyous the holidays might've been. So, this
year, give yourself permission to rejuvenate! A regular massage is
one way to revitalize your mind and your body.
Check out these four healthy side effects of regular massage
that will benefit you day in and day out.
Is stress keeping you up at night? While some people turn to
herbal teas or prescription medications, the relaxing effects of
massage can make a difference as well, says Cynthia Ribeiro,
president of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and
advanced program developer at the National Holistic Institute.
The relaxation benefits of a massage can help you rest easier,
and if pain is the root cause of your restless nights, Ribeiro
says, massage can be a great ally as well.
"A tight muscle can cause pain," Ribeiro says. "The muscles,
when they shorten and tighten, form a
knot. And that knot can get hyperirritable and hypersensitive. But
you can relax the muscle with touch."
She also notes that massage can speed recovery after exercise by
reducing muscle soreness, and can improve the healing of pulled
muscles and sprained ligaments.
Even if your sleep isn't disturbed and you're not suffering from
aches and pains, you still might be the victim of everyday
"Our bodies have a stress response, which was really useful when
we were being chased by creatures," explains Kathy L. Gruver,
Ph.D., a licensed massage therapist and author of The Alternative
Medicine Cabinet. "Today, we have constant stress, and stress
hormones are wreaking havoc on our immune systems, digestion, sleep
A massage is good for day-to-day stress by turning off the
body's stress response. In turn, this can help lower blood
pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate-all physical
manifestations of stress.
Massage helps the body release endorphins, Ribeiro notes,
creating a beneficial and relaxing sensation in the body.
"People are working, they're on the phone, they're on the
computer," adds Judy Stahl, a licensed massage therapist and
professional member of the AMTA. "They're living in their heads and
are disconnected from their bodies."
She explains that the biochemicals running through the body
during a massage encourage relaxation and a sense of peace.
"When a body is able to relax, it is able to do the natural
repair work that will bring it into homeostasis-a balanced state of
By Stephanie R. Conner
photography by Jeff newton