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While many people think of massage as simply a relaxing treat, it is in fact much more than that. Massage is a therapeutic treatment that offers many health benefits. Massage can relieve stress and reduce chronic pain, help promote healing and immunity, support muscle health and much more. There are many types of massage; anyone, even infants and the elderly, can benefit from therapeutic massage.
Multiple studies have proven the health benefits of massage. One study found that even a brief, ten-minute massage can help muscles recover after exertion. Full body massages have been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure and improve immunity in women going through breast cancer radiation treatment.
Children with asthma have been shown to experience improved lung function when they receive brief therapeutic massages from their parents each night in combination with traditional asthma treatments. Massage has been found to reduce levels of stress hormones in the body and has been used to help successfully relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Massage can relieve muscle pain and help strengthen and stretch weak, atrophied or tight muscles. It has been used to heal scar tissue and stretch marks, treat anxiety and depression, improve joint flexibility and range of motion, increase circulation, treat post-surgical swelling, improve sleep and raise energy levels.
There are many types of massage, but most types involve kneading or otherwise manipulating the body's soft tissues and extremities, usually with the hands. Some massage therapists will also use their forearms, elbows, feet and other body parts to more effectively apply pressure where it is needed.
Massage techniques can vary widely depending on the type of massage being administered. Some types of massage, like deep tissue massage, require the therapist to apply significant pressure to the muscles and connective tissues. Other types, like Swedish massage, use varying amounts of pressure and can be very gentle. Still other types, like shiatsu, rely on acupressure principles, while some, like hot stone massage or aromatherapy massage, require special props.
Getting a massage can take anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes, depending on how long you want it to last. Make sure your therapist does not perform more than about six or seven massages a day; a tired therapist is less effective.
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