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Fitness: Can massage improve your fitness?

By Holly Myers, Certified Massage Therapist

The answer is yes! Massage can absolutely help you be more fit, but how? Most people believe that massage is just for pampering, but the reality is massage has numerous health benefits and should be part of everyoneís wellness or fitness plan.

How does massage help?
But how does massage help you stay fit? How can something that feels so decadent be so good for you? One of the biggest reasons people give for over-eating is stress. Stress also depletes the immune system making it easier for disease to get a foot hold.

Massageís most proven benefit is the reduction of stress. Spending an hour lying comfortably on a table in a dimly lit room while soothing music plays is by itself very relaxing. Add to all that, the skilled hands of a massage therapist deftly manipulating the soft tissue of the body and stress doesnít stand a chance.

Increase body awareness
Regular massage (at least twice a month or more) increases body awareness. Body awareness is just what it sounds like, being aware of your body. Most of us walk around oblivious to the body we live in. We donít pay attention to what we put in it or how we treat it. Getting massage forces us to pay more attention to ourselves. We become more aware of the aches and pains that we ignore. When you do one thing that is good for you it snowballs and you want to do more good things for yourself. Massage encourages to take better care of ourselves.

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Ease pain and increase energy
We all know we need regular exercise to maintain good health, but how many times have you skipped your workout because of muscle pain or because you just donít have the energy or perhaps because your not feeling well? Massage alleviates those muscle pains that plague us all. How massage soothes those aches and pains is no mystery. Massage increases blood flow to muscles and joints and releases natural pain killers found in the body, called opioids. When pain is decreased, movement is less inhibited, energy levels rise, and there are no more excuses not to keep up with your fitness routine.

Prolonged stress also makes us more susceptible to illness. When we our stressed our bodies go into what is called the fight or flight reflex which causes our bodies to release certain chemicals to increase the heart rate, inhibit digestion, dilate blood vessels in the muscles, among other things. The body reacts to all stress with same response, whether that stress is physical or emotional, real or perceived. When our bodies are busy fighting stress, they are not as diligent about fighting disease and you get sick. Reducing stress, reduces illness.

Still not convinced that massage can make you more fit?
Need more proof? Massage can also:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase circulation
  • Alleviate insomnia
  • Improve posture
  • Improve skin condition
  • Foster faster healing of soft tissue after injury
  • Alleviate the discomfort of pregnancy
  • Increase mobility
  • Improve body image

The list of benefits is almost endless.
Massage can definitely make you more fit. Taking the time to treat yourself to a massage is well worth the investment. Massage feels great and is good for you. Think of massage as chocolate cake for your body, but with all the vitamins you need.

Holly Myers is a Certified Massage Therapist in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Visit her Holly Myers Therapeutic Massage website.

therepeutic massage

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