I used to believe massages were strictly a luxury. The word conjured images of languid, girly “spa days” where people lounge around in fluffy white robes and fruity drinks between sessions of being kneaded into blissful oblivion and wrapped in colorful, perfumed mud. That was all well and good, of course, but I considered myself far too pragmatic to indulge in such opulence more than once a decade or so. After all, in the first three decades of my life I’d had a massage exactly once! (Note: It was lovely, though decidedly more low-key than my imaginings.)
Then I became a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and my entire understanding of massages changed. Radically. I was both amazed and chagrined to discover that what I’d categorized as a luxury is actually a powerful and health-promoting category of therapy!
How Massage Can Help You Detox
The list of benefits from massage is long and diverse, but primarily stems from three direct and specific factors:
1. Stress Reduction – Excessive stress is hugely problematic. It run roughshod over our bodies, leading to hormone imbalances, exaggerated wear-and-tear on our systems, premature aging, reduced immune function, and mental, social, and emotional imbalances. Getting a massage immediately and significantly reduces stress, resetting our bodies into a “rest” state in which they stop taking such heavy damage and have an opportunity to heal.
2. Lymph Circulation – Lymph is a mostly whitish-clear fluid made up of white blood cells, proteins, and fats. It fills the spaces between the cells in all our bodies’ tissues, and plays a key role in the proper function of the immune system. Unlike blood, it doesn’t have a central pumping mechanism to keep it moving. Instead it relies on the contract-and-relax movements of our muscles to make it circulate throughout our bodies so that it can play its part in the collecting, filtering, and removal of potentially dangerous toxins and bacteria. Unfortunately, when we routinely spend long days trapped behind our desks, in our cars, or otherwise getting very little movement, our lymph can’t achieve the kind of circulation it needs to do its job. It starts getting backed up and, as a result, so does our ability to fight disease and infection. Massage gets lymph moving, giving our bodies’ essential assistance in cleaning out problem areas and boosting our immune systems.
3. Positive Touch – Human beings aren’t automatons. We are social and emotional creatures designed for connection and touch (even us introverts!). Although we may not realize it, modern social mores and physical realities leave many of us moving through our days with little or no touch at all. This lack of natural, appropriate physical contact – hugs from family and friends, kisses from a spouse, snuggles from a furry companion – starves our souls in ways that can be hard to quantify scientifically, but which consistently produce measurable, document-able negative results on our health and well-being. Whether your massage is the loving amateur effort of a partner or the polished but compassionate touch of a professional, it can make a huge impact on your mental and emotional health.
Viewed in that light, it’s pretty clear that massage is far more than just a luxury – it’s a fantastic way to support our bodies’ detoxification systems. Did you already know how powerful massage was, or does this message surprise you as much as it did me?