Sunday, December 23, 2012

Massage…not a luxury

One of the small changes I’ve made over the last 18 months is allowing myself a monthly massage. I used to feel that because I was large (read fat), that I really didn’t want to take my clothes off in front of a stranger. As well, I have a real aversion to allowing anyone not family to touch me. But, while having physical therapy for frozen shoulder, I became convinced to try it. It helped with the soreness that the physical therapy caused to start with. It relieved neck and shoulder tension that I didn’t even know I had until it was loosened up. But massage still seemed like a luxury.

Recently though, I started thinking that I should really start taking better care of myself, since I intend to stick around for another decade or two. And so, I started going in once a month for a massage. I have found a goddess massage therapist (Melissa, bless you) who makes me feel like a human being again. And I started doing research into the other benefits of massage.

Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in lifted spirits and often lower blood pressure. It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression. High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones. Stress kills. Even without obvious narrowing of coronary arteries, stress can cause heart attacks.

Obviously, massage helps relieve muscle tightness and aches. But, one of the benefits of flexibility is again, heart related. Arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease. Staying flexible, through massage and exercise, keeps those arteries flexible as well, and more able to keep the blood moving. My massage therapist told me that the calves, in particular, help move lymph around the body, acting as almost a second heart. So, massaging them helps bring all that lymph back through the system, and helps keep the white blood cells working more efficiently.

But, best of all, I walk lighter after a massage. I have my head held high, I breathe deeper, I have at last a few hours of contentment.

Get a massage!


#massage #cortisol #reducestress