The Magic of Massage
The next time you spend a string of stressful days at the office, don't reach for a sugary snack to perk you up. Instead, reach for the phone and schedule yourself a professional massage. Once considered a luxury, massages are now seen by many as an important tool in the battle against tension and stress.
"The most noticeable benefits of massage are relaxation and stress reduction," says Carol Cournoyer, assistant spa director at The Spa at Norwich Inn in Norwich, Connecticut. In addition to the pampering effect, more and more people are turning to massage for the health benefits it offers. "A lot of people with back problems or athletes with injuries are getting massages," says Cournoyer. "In fact, chiropractors and physical therapists often recommend massage to their patients."
And with good reason, according to new research. Studies have confirmed that massage has many health-boosting effects including reducing heart rate; lowering blood pressure; increasing blood circulation and lymph flow; relaxing muscles; improving range of motion; boosting the immune system; and increasing endorphins. A study by Beth Israel-Deaconess Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education and the Center for Health Studies in Seattle found that was an effective treatment for patients will chronic lower back pain.
Besides these physical benefits, massages also offer these mental and emotional benefits, says the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org):
- Mental. Massage provides a relaxed state of alertness, reduces mental stress, and enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity.
- Emotional. Massage satisfies the human need for a caring and nurturing touch, creates a feeling of well-being, and reduces anxiety levels.
Photo courtesy of the Spa at Norwich Inn, Norwich, Connecticut.