Heart-Healthy Benefits of Massage TherapyJANUARY 31, 2017 |BY PATRICK HICKS, B.S., LMP/LMT
It’s February and love is in the air, which means I am focused on matters of the heart – you should be too. Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, while we ramp up for this month of love, let us practice some self-care and self-love and explore the ways in which massage therapy can protect and improve your cardiovascular health.
The heart is a muscle, a powerful and precious muscle that works day in and day out to keep you alive. And, just like any other muscle, it can benefit from massage therapy. When your shoulders and neck are tight and tired from sitting in front of your computer all day, what feels so good? A lovely massage… you know it does. Just like those tight muscles in your shoulders and neck, the heart benefits from massage as well. Now, we can’t put our hands directly on the heart, but we can make it feel good and relax by connecting with the rest of your body. The heart is the central hub of the cardiovascular system, so any benefits applied to the rest of the body have a direct and positive impact.
In a 2008 study, regular massage therapy was shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a sample group of 263 volunteers, as well as reduce the heart rate by an average of 10 beats per minute. High blood pressure is linked to cardiovascular disease, and it is estimated that 30 percent of the people in the United States have high blood pressure – more than 95 million people in the U.S. are living with high blood pressure! Massage therapy is a non- invasive and drug-free way to help manage this epidemic.
By massaging and relaxing the muscles of the body we reduce stress, stimulate nerve endings, release endorphins (feel-good hormones) and decrease the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This process allows for the release of contracted muscles, inhibits the fight or flight response and encourages us to move into a parasympathetic state. The heart slows down – it relaxes and takes a breather.
Getting a massage on a regular basis from a skilled practitioner is the key to receiving cardiovascular benefits from massage. Just like working out only every so often will not provide the health benefits you’re looking for, receiving a massage only once in a blue moon will not do the trick. Talk to your practitioner about setting up a regular schedule for massage. Many practitioners offer “wellness plans” to bring down the cost of therapy and allow everyone to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy.
Give your heart a break, treat it to a regular massage. Your heart will thank you.
Link to oringnal article