General Question

Facade's avatar

What are the health benefits of massage therapy?

Asked by Facade (22899points) May 6th, 2009

Other than it feeling good, what else does it do for the body?
Am I doing harm to myself by being physically and mentally tense all the time?

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11 Answers

Supacase's avatar

Constant stress is not healthy. Massage is very relaxing and, IMO, worth doing as long as you get a massage therapist who isn’t a chatterbox.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Better sleep, posture, flexibility, skintone. I think the ultimate for most Americans would be massage/acupuncture therapy.

purplelow's avatar

it feels amazing

3or4monsters's avatar

Firstly: Yes. You can do yourself significant harm by being stressed and tense all the time. Just ask anyone with high blood pressure or low back pain that required invasive surgery that had a low success rate!

I don’t think I have time to list all of it. It would be a novel. To start, I’m just going to list one physical benefit, and save other physical reasons and any emotional/stress related reasons for later, if you’re still interested.

There are tons of reasons why a muscle might be getting told by the central nervous system to continue a low-grade firing response (ei. tension). Imagine it like a cramp, but a minor one. The problem with your body creating a tense muscle 24/7, is that the body gets tired of maintaining that extra tension for long periods of time, yet is being told that it must.

The body is very efficient. It takes more nutrients to maintain that shorted, tense state than a relaxed one… so your body will take a short cut that requires less nutrients/resources. Microscopic strands of scar tissue will form in the muscle to keep it shortened like that, so the body doesn’t have to actively maintain it anymore. Like scaffolding, slings, or bracing.

The problem with that is that its commonly uncomfortable (ex: bad posture and range of motion), and severely limits flexibility. In instances where you need flexibility, instead of stretching, you will get tearing. You will be more prone to injury down the line. That’s not EVEN getting into the kind of chemical byproduct buildup that comes from this kind of scenario… that’s a post for another time.

A massage is, in essence, gently (or sometimes not so gently, depending on what the client wants or needs) breaking down those microscopic straps of scar tissue to allow appropriate blood flow and flexibility back into the muscle, and can also interrupt the signal from the central nervous system to keep firing. You hit the reset switch.

Sorry this is so long, and yet… this really is just the tip of the iceburg.

Facade's avatar

@3or4monsters I think that was the first long post I actually read lol Thanks for the info. Being tense hasn’t influenced my flexibility, but I guess it’s never to early to change

3or4monsters's avatar

@Facade haha no problem. :) I guess it depends on where you’re tense?

I remember you saying somewhere that you were a gymnast when young and it messed up your joints. Sometimes massage can loosen the muscles and reduce any compacting in the joints, depending? In particular I’m thinking about knees, and how tight quads/hamstrings can cause knee and hip joint havoc.

But if it’s stress, usually that’s in the jaw, temples, neck, and shoulders, and unless you’ve been in a car accident, you can let that stuff slide a little. Or bribe your honey into rubbing those. :)

Facade's avatar

@3or4monsters yes, gymnastics did fuck me up royally, but more in the sense of loosening ligaments, breaking down cartilage, etc. The tension is only in my upper body. It’s good to know it’s not that serious. Maybe I’ll get a rub down today when he comes to visit!

3or4monsters's avatar

@Facade Upper body stuff, its seriousness depends on a lot of things, but if you get into a car accident or something, chronically tense neck/shoulders tend to take more long-term damage during impact then ones that aren’t. That’s kind of planning for something that probably won’t happen, though. Can’t live in fear, unless you drive everywhere for your job.

augustlan's avatar

I have Fibromyalgia, and when I had a lot more money, I used to get a massage once a month. It really helped loosen up all of the connective tissue in my body. I highly recommend it, if you can afford it.

3or4monsters's avatar

@augustlan I’m in it for the deep connective tissue work. :) My muscles need it in a few specific areas, but I benefit the most from getting my fascia (muscle casings) released. I have adhesions all over the place on them, so while my muscles are extremely flexible, their casings…. not so much, they have a tendency to stick to each other and inhibit movement.

augustlan's avatar

@3or4monsters That’s it exactly… the fascia binds everything up. It hurts, too. :(

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