How Massage Therapy Can Help Boost Focus

When it comes to relaxing there are some things that we associate with Spa days, cuddling up with a fire, staying at home until two p.m. and, obviously having massage. Massage is wonderful to help you relax but it also has beneficial effects for your health, too.

The word “massage” is actually many different kinds of massages, ranging in the range of Swedish massage (the most popular kind) as well as massages with a more specific and targeted goal, such as a sports massage, which is targeted to aid athletes in recovering.

Whatever the form of massage, the benefits are based on one factor that is pressure. “The the skin gets moved when you perform moderate pressure massages, which causes a relaxing and slowing down of the nervous systems,” states Tiffany Field, PhD, Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. The slowing of the nervous system can cause various physiological effects such as a reduction of heart beat, lower blood pressureand slight changes to EEG pattern (electrical activity of your brain) according to Field.

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In addition, to feel the effects, it’s less time-consuming than you think. “For research we’ve been able to demonstrate positive effects of massages that last only 20 minutes,” says Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, chief of the psychiatric services offered by Emory Healthcare, who has conducted numerous studies on the benefits of massage. This means that when you go to have massage (most of them are advertised as being between 50 and 60 minutes, according to the doctor. Rapaport), you’re being pressured for more than enough time to reap the maximum advantages.

If you’re not able to go to the spa across the street? “You don’t have to visit an acupuncturist every day,” says Field. “You can treat yourself to an ointment.” Because we can reach the majority of parts of our bodies and even our feet, you can perform an hour-long self-massage using a massage brush while in the shower, or by rubbing the tennis ball on your legs, Field explains.

If you’re considering scheduling a session to invest in a self-massage Here are the six most significant benefits you should know about.

If you are suffering from anxiety, a study suggests that a massage may help alleviate your symptoms. “What we believe is happening is that it’s the reduction of the sympathetic tone is seen in people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, and also increasing the parasympathetic response,” says Dr. Rapaport who was the lead researcher of the study.

The body has two distinct nerve systems, the sympathetic nerve system as well as the parasympathetic nerve system. “Your sympathetic nervous system is fighting or fight,” says Rudy Gehrman, DC, a sports medicine chiropractor who founded Physio Logic in New York. “If you’re being pursued by a lion it’s the sympathetic nervous system.”

When you massage the parasympathetic (or calm) response will increase and can result in a reduction in anxiety, according to the doctor. Rapaport.

What’s more exciting is that Massage’s effects on reduced anxiety could be lasting. “We conducted a follow-up on an informal basis and found that a substantial percentage of people were still anxiety-free between six and 18 months after,” says Dr. Rapaport.

Are you struggling to sleep or suffering with insomnia? Massage therapy can aid you in sleeping more deeply. “Sleep is all about the amount of activity within the nerve system” Field says. Field. When you receive massages, your nervous system actually is slowed down by the pressure.

Additionally, when you’re getting deep, restorative sleep, she adds that it reduces the levels of substance P (a neurotransmitter that helps relieve pain) and reduces general pain. If you’re suffering from pain, massage can do double duty.

It’s all too common. You’ve been twirling and tossing throughout the night, your you’ve been exhausted from work and you’re feeling like you’re not even allowed the time to sit down for a long breath. “Some people feel tired because they’re sleeping too little,” says Dr. Rapaport. “Other people feel fatigued due to a variety of biological reasons.”

However, regardless of what the root of your fatigue, an simple solution is (you probably guessed it) a massage. Indeed, a 2018 study conducted by Dr. Rapaport found that breast cancer patients who had weekly Swedish massages saw a decrease in fatigue, a particular debilitating side effect of the cancer. For the most effective results according to Dr. Rapaport’s research, try having a massage at least once a week.

Aid certain health conditions

The body has two distinct immune responses, Th1 and Th2 and they have to be balanced to ensure that your immune system functioning optimally Field says Field. “If Th2 is in over the Th1 system and you develop an autoimmune problem,” she says.

However, during massage, you’re decreasing stress hormones to maintain the equilibrium, she adds. This can aid in making autoimmune diseases, such as asthma or type 1 diabetes or dermatitis, easier to manage by reducing fatigue or pain.

Are you having trouble staying focused in a conference for longer than 10 minutes, or doing a book reading before bed? Massages can actually improve your ability to pay attention and concentrate.

This is because, in order for you to be able to focus your heart rate has to be reduced. “If you don’t pay attention to me, that’s typically due to my heart rate being elevated,” says Field. “And once I’ve gotten my heart rate lower I’ll be more alert.”

Since massages slow down the nervous system, your heart rate will be slowed down as well. When you massage, your pressure receptors trigger vagal activity that originates from the brain’s nerve which leads to a variety of organs including the heart, Field says. Field. When you’re under the stress of a massage it may reduce the heart rate and also, ultimately, can improve your concentration.

If you suffer from an injury or joint discomfort (especially when the issue is chronic or long-lasting) according to Gehrman You’ll also experience the so-called soft-tissue limitations that cause knots or trigger painful points. “Massage therapists are rid of the soft tissue restrictions and improving the circulation of blood,” Gehrman says.

These restrictions could, over time, cause problems such as joint decay or ligament issues, so by systematically massaging those soft tissue restrictions, you’re not just helping with your injury and preventing from other issues in the future. The most important thing to remember to remember when you’re getting massages for your injury is to choose an skilled, licensed massage therapist who has a wealth of experience working with injured patients.

“Because any kind of soft tissue massage, you’re essentially creating damage to the scientific community when you go too deeply, that patient won’t recover from the procedure,” says Gehrman. A licensed, professional massage therapist is in a position to determine which areas surrounding the injury require massage and which ones should be avoided.

Are there any risks associated with massage?

While there isn’t any evidence-based dangers to massage, if you’ve got an illness history such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, these are issues you need to make the massage professional aware of and consult an therapist who is familiar dealing with this particular issue.

Women who are pregnant must also find an acupuncturist with pregnancy experience–“For pregnant women you must be extremely careful when it comes to positioning,” says Gehrman.

Patients with osteoporosis must find an osteoporosis therapist who has experience in this area, too. “You could easily fracture bones or ribs when a person is truly very osteoporotic” Gehrman says. Gehrman.