Why you should treat yourself (or somebody you love) to regular massage
Benefits of Receiving Regular Massages
A massage may be described as rubbing of the muscles or joints to help ease tension or stress, but for anyone who's ever received a massage, you know it's so much more, and in fact, you've likely noticed some of the benefits listed below as well.
If you're a massage novice, it may be because you can never figure out which type of massage to treat yourself to: deep tissue, full-body, hot stone, lymphatic drainage, myofascial massage, aromatherapy massage, or self massage.
Honestly, regardless of which type you choose, you can reap benefits of receiving regular massage, even if you perform it on yourself.
Recent studies have shown that massage helps improve circulation in the body by pushing blood through a crowded (read: tense, knotted, restricted, inflamed) area. Massage has also been shown to dilate capillary blood vessels resulting in improved circulation. With greater circulation improves within the body, the flow of oxygen to tissue increases.
Massage also helps to flush lactic acid from congested areas of muscle and improves the flow of lymph fluid (even if you're not receiving lymph drainage massage) thus increasing the process of waste removal (including excess lactic acid) from muscles, so massage is great after intense training sessions (or when you overdo it skiing... or surfing, or whatever your jam).
If you suffer from inflammation, massages may be perfect for you. For myself, I have a problem shoulder that I frequently re-injure from lifting and pulling too heavy without proper form. In addition to strength training with proper form to help build up the muscles in that area, my shoulder responds well to myofascial release massage when I start experiencing symptoms of inflammation.
Fascia is the connective tissue surrounding the organs within our body, and strictures within the fascial layer can lead to limited range of motion and result in tension, tightness, and blocked energy (due either to restricted circulation, restricted lymph flow, or restricted energy - we are NOT just matter), within a muscle group AND also within organs of our body. If you want to read more about myofascial release massage, check out this blog post: Holistic Healing Part 2: Myofascial Release
Massage can improve restlessness in the body. At times, tense muscles may be a contributing factor to restless nights. Massage creates space in the body for energy and fluid (blood and lymph) flow by releasing tension, which may reduce restlessness.
Additionally, research shows that massage can help increase serotonin and dopamine levels within the body while reducing cortisol levels (Reference 1) thereby shifting us away from our "fight or flight" response system (sympathetic nervous system) and into our parasympathetic ("rest and digest") response system.
Aromatherapy and Massage
A combination of relaxing aromatherapy oils with massage is an ultimate treat. We've created three different aromatherapy blends for you to use during self massage by diluting in a carrier oil of your choice.
Each of the three 100% natural blends are based on Ayurvedic principles and intended to calm overactive kapha, vata, or pitta dosha types. Each one is offered in sample size and full-size to make it even easier to try before purchasing a full-size product, and we also offer the three in a gift set trio (choose sample size or full size) to treat yourself or a friend.
Our upcoming blog series will offer more information on each of these three blends and how we developed them with Ayurveda in mind. In the mean time, if you're wondering what your dominant dosha types are, click here to take a quiz.
1T Field, M Hernandez-Rief, M Diego, S Schanberg & C Kuhn (2005) CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY, International Journal of Neuroscience, 115:10, 1397-1413, DOI: 10.1080/00207450590956459
About the Author
Brandy Searcy is a pharmaceutical formulation development scientist with over a decade experience in skincare product development. Self taught in many fields most notably skin anatomy and physiology and immune modulation (although she has formal training as well and was also raised by a registered nurse), she's also a firm believer in alternative healing modalities having experienced the health benefits of both acupuncture and myofascial release massage.
Like everyone, her personality and constitution are a blend of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas, but she tends toward vata or pitta dominance.