Massage therapy can provide numerous benefits to the body and mind. In addition to treating overworked or tight muscles, massage can also greatly help circulation throughout the body and relieve tension and stress, which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Massage therapy is helpful if you are already healthy or if you are recovering from certain injuries. Ask your doctor whether massage therapy is safe for you.
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Increased Blood Flow
Massage therapy can help improve blood flow to the tissues, muscles and vital organs, according to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Increased blood flow is a key element of good health, as blood carries oxygen and important nutrients.
Strong and consistent flow of oxygen-rich blood to brain tissue is essential to help preserve cognitive function and protect against strokes, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Sustained blood flow can also help keep muscles from cramping while also preserving organ function and maintaining healthy skin.
Improved Blood Pressure
Since massage can improve relaxation, the reduction in stress and release of stress chemicals in the body can help lower blood pressure, according to MayoClinic.com, which notes that massage and other relaxation techniques help relieve "the wear and tear on your mind and body."
MayoClinic.com also notes that massage and other types of relaxation techniques can help slow your heart and breathing rates, which can aid your circulatory and respiratory systems.
Massage can help improve the health of your fascia, a thin layer of tissue that surrounds and penetrates muscles, bones, organs and other tissue throughout the body, according to the National Institute of Massotherapy in Cleveland. All major blood vessels are connected to these sheathes of fascia, so if the fascia is properly aligned and healthy, your circulatory and nervous systems will benefit, the Institute says.
Relief of Strain and Swelling During Pregnancy
Pregnant women typically find additional strain in the lower back, legs, head and neck, so prenatal massage can be a healthy and beneficial treatment during pregnancy. Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, can be due in part to reduced circulation. The American Pregnancy Association suggests that prenatal massage can reduce the likelihood of edema and promote improved circulation, which in turn can help promote good health for the baby, too.