The benefits of massage therapy

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The benefits of massage therapy.

 

In a bid to contain Covid-19 in the country, massage therapy, among other therapeutic services, were halted since mid-March.

Last week, however, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced massage therapies as one of the services permitted to resume their operations.

According to health experts, this is a much needed service as the therapy comes with many health benefits.

Gilbert Ndahimana, a Kigali-based therapist, says people have been stressed and still are because of the pandemic, and that one of the best ways to relieve stress and other ailments is through good massage therapy.

He says massage therapy enhances one’s life by reducing stress, improving circulation and flushing out toxins and boosting the immune system at the same time.

“It makes one feel comfortable in their own body. In other words, their overall health and well-being improve while one’s stress levels decrease,” he says.

About massage therapy

Ndahimana says this form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body.

The body’s soft tissue areas, he says, include; muscles, tendons, connective tissue, among others.

“If someone is tense, or they have been injured and have extensive muscle or nerve tissue damage that plagues their body, massage therapy might be worth exploring,” he says.

The importance

When the body is tense and under stress, it produces unhealthy levels of the well-known stress hormone—cortisol—which can contribute to weight gain, insomnia, digestive problems, and headaches.

Massage therapy has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in the body. This enables the body to enter recovery mode. This form of therapy also triggers lasting feelings of relaxation, improved mood, and reduced stress levels.

Stress 

Not only can massage therapy help with stress relief, but regular massage sessions over a prolonged period of time can boost energy levels, reduce pain and stimulate individuals on physical as well as emotional levels.

Blood pressure 

Regular massage therapy sessions have been found to reduce blood pressure levels. In fact, some long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage programme can reduce both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure.

Moreover, it can also reduce cortisol levels within the body. Furthermore, consistent massage sessions can also reduce trigger sources for anxiety, hostility, tension, and depression.

In turn, lower blood pressure levels can also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or kidney failure, as well as many other health issues.

Muscle relaxation 

The purpose of massage therapy is to target the source of the body’s pain via eliminating tense muscles, increasing flexibility and providing relaxation to the affected muscles, as well as the body as a whole.

Celestine Karangwa, a physiotherapist at Technology Clinic in Remera, Kigali, says massage also promotes circulation to the affected or injured muscles, which increases nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues.

In turn, he says, this increased activity to the affected sites reduces stiffness and oedema (fluid retention in the body) in the muscles and joints, as well as increases flexibility to help reduce pain.

Moreover, Karangwa says, this form of therapy also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones), which boost the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body.

The hormones, he says, assist the body in many ways—physically as well as emotionally—including promoting healing, pain management, as well as calming the nerves.

Blood circulation 

According to Ndahimana, the long-term benefits of massage therapy are not to be underestimated. He says that improved circulation occurs in the body as a result of regular massage therapy.

“This is because proper circulation brings damaged, stiff, and tense muscles, missing the rich blood supply they need to promote healing,” he says.

Moreover, he says, massage promotes improved circulation with hands-on pressure, which moves the blood through the damaged and congested areas of the body.

In turn, the release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow into tissues.

The squeezing, twisting, and pulling action of the massage technique also removes lactic acid from the muscle tissues. As a result, this action improves lymph fluid circulation, which carries metabolic waste products away from internal organs and muscles.

In turn, he says, this results in lower blood pressure levels and improved overall body function.

Posture 

People experience back, neck, and muscle pain from a variety of sources. However, studies have shown that the primary cause of this pain results from poor posture.

Also, being overweight, poor posture, and repetitive or overuse movements can also contribute to the strain on the back and other potential problem areas.

As a result, the added strain often causes spasms, pain, and tense muscles in the hips, glutes, back, neck, and legs.

Research suggests that massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment. In fact, improving one’s posture can be one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of massage therapy.

This is because massage allows the body to relax and loosens the muscles made tense and sore via bad posture. In turn, this allows the body to position itself in its organic and pain-free posture.