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LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

You don’t just feel chilled out after a massage—your blood pressure might take a dip, too, according to a study.

Women with prehypertension who received Swedish massage for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week saw a 12 mm Hg drop in their systolic blood pressure after their sessions. And the BP-lowering effect remained for 72 hours after the massage.

EASE ANXIETY

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may benefit from a massage, too, a new study from Emory University discovered.

After six weeks of Swedish massage therapy, patients with GAD experienced a significant reductions in scores on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, which measures feelings of worries, tension, fears, insomnia, dry mouth, and restlessness.

BOOST YOUR MOOD

It’s not just your imagination—you really do feel better after a massage. And those benefits might extend to people who suffer from depression, too.

After analyzing 17 studies, researchers from Taiwan concluded that massage therapy sessions significantly reduce their depressive symptoms. Still, more controlled studies are needed to nail down which massage therapy protocols are most effective, the researchers say.

END EXERCISE SORENESS

If a tough workout has you limping, the answer might be on the massage table: People with trap soreness after a hard workout experienced a reduction in soreness intensity after a 10-minute massage of the affected muscle, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Can’t fit in the masseuse after your gym session? Another solution may be just to keep moving: Those who performed “active rest”—in this case, 10 minutes of shoulder shrugs—experienced a similar reduction in soreness.

SLEEP SOUNDLY

People who suffer from back pain tend to have problems sleeping. But massage therapy might help fix that, too.

In University of Miami School of Medicine study of 30 adults with chronic low back pain, those who started 30-minute long massage sessions twice a week for five weeks noted a significant reduction in sleep disturbances, meaning less awakening during the night or trouble falling asleep. Since the massage also reduced the pain, it’s possible that less aches means higher-quality shuteye, the researchers believe.

EASE BACK PAIN

Chronic low back pain is notoriously hard to treat—and according to new guidelines, you shouldn’t reach for the pills for relief, either, as we reported.

Massage could be a drug-free alternative to feeling better fast. According to a study in Pain Medicine, about 50 percent of people with chronic low back pain experienced clinically significant improvements in their pain after 10 massage treatments. And 75 percent of those who experienced improvements after 12 weeks still showed the same benefits at the 24-week mark.

FIGHT OFF SICKNESS

The feel-good effects of a massage may extend deep into your body. People who received Swedish massage showed changes in their immune system responses after the sessions, according to a study out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

In particular, they experienced a boost in the number of circulating lymphocytes, white blood cells that help fight infection.

POOP EASIER

All backed up in the bathroom? Massage might help people who suffer from constipation, according to research published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

Researchers broke up 60 people with constipation into two groups—one received laxatives along with abdominal massage, while the others were given only laxatives. After eight weeks, the people in the massage group reported less severe gastrointestinal symptoms and less abdominal pain that the laxative-only group. They also pooped more frequently.

FIRE CUPPING

Fire cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine and is making it’s big break back into the spotlight in modern day massage therapy.

The therapist will light a flame to an alcohol covered cotton ball, and burn out the air within a thick glass unbreakable cup. The skill in this method is the flick of the wrist and timing of the cup touching the surface of the clients skin. Done correctly the air will try to return to the cup and suction the clients skin up to 4 inches into the cup. Instead of pressing down into the body, the therapist has pulled the muscle and skin up into the cup resulting in a circular red mark. The mark will vary in color based off certain reasons of what the client is experiencing. Ranging from tight muscles chronic pain cramping or poor circulation, cupping is an amazing way to cleanse your body while getting a relaxing massage.

The therapist will discuss rather you would like the cups to remain stationary, releasing stagnant blood, tension in muscles and lifting to the surface metabolic waste laying stuck in the body. When this waste is brought to the surface it is easier flushed out of the system so your body can heal and tension can be released. The second path the therapist may take is moving cups, which involves the practitioner applying oil to the areas that will be worked and placing the cups on the body to be moved around, once the suction is made. This does all the benefits of stationary cupping with the added massage strokes and increasing blood flow and circulation.

GUA SHA

Gua Sha is a Chinese traditional medicine which means “scraping”. This scraping produces Petechiae to the body, being an alternative therapy to improve circulation in the body. This improves the blood flow, and addresses chronic pains the client may suffer from. The therapist applies massage oil, and makes strokes with a tool. This could be stone metal or traditional bone with a smooth edge. Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy in the body that is called Qi, that practitioners believes to be responsible for inflammation.

Gua Sha is generally performed on a person’s back, buttock, neck, arms and legs. A gentle version of it is even used on the face. Your therapist may apply mild pressure, and gradually increase intensity to determine how much force you can handle.

COLD STONE THERAPY

When cold stones are placed on the skin, it initially causes narrowing of the blood vessels. When they are removed, the blood vessel dilate, bringing fresh blood and oxygen to that area, which increases circulation. Great for decreasing inflammation and swelling cold stones are also great for chronic migraines and headaches a client might be suffering from. Paired with hot stones this method goes into a pumping method, helping in the removal of toxins and encouraging healing. The benefits of cold stones are great for hot flashes or overheated individuals, especially women who have reached menopause. Cold stones have also proven to decrease high blood pressure, restore energy levels, and relaxes muscle spasms.

Cold stone Therapy can be placed on the face, or bigger stones like marble can be placed on any part of the back legs or feet.

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