While most people get a massage to lower stress or reduce muscle aches, therapeutic massage can also:
- Decrease anxiety and fatigue
- Improve the quality of sleep
- Enhance the immune system by stimulating lymph flow
- Improve range of motion
- Ease medication dependence
- Help athletes prepare for and recover from strenuous workouts
- Nourish and improve the skin
- Improve circulation
- Release endorphins that work as the body’s natural painkiller
- Lower blood pressue
- Reduce scar tissue and stretch marks
- Ease spasms and cramping
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling
- Relieve migraine pain
I’ve witnessed variations of each of the above-listed benefits first-hand during my 16 years working as a therapeutic massage therapist. However, the most profound benefit — in my opinion — is the simplist of all: Massage makes my clients happier. The science geek in me understands this is a partially the result of increased oxytocin and decreased Adrenocorticotropin hormones and suggests you read an amazing research paper by on the subject (click here for the research paper), yet the holistic healer in me suggests you simply get a massage and see for yourself: It really works.
I wrote a research paper on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) for massage school and am posting an abbreviated version of my findings.
CTS is a progressive peripheral entrapment of the median nerve by the transverse carpal ligament, causing sharp, shocking pain and/or numbing. Common symptoms include:
- Tingling or numbness in the thumb, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and occasionally the 4th finger.
- Pain radiating or extending from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or down into the palm or fingers, especially after forceful or repetitive use.
- A sense of weakness in the hands and a tendency to drop objects.
- It is often difficult to identify a single cause of CTS. The Mayo Clinic (2011) reported that a combination of risk factors generally appear to contribute to the development of the condition. While these factors alone do not cause carpal tunnel syndrome, they may increase the chances of developing or aggravating the condition. These factors include:
- Anatomic factors. Wrist fracture or dislocation can alter the space within the carpal tunnel and create pressure on the median nerve. Also, it is more common in women, possibly because the carpal tunnel area is relatively smaller than in men.
- Nerve-damaging conditions. Certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and alcoholism, increase the risk of nerve damage, including damage to the median nerve.
- Inflammatory conditions. Illnesses that are characterized by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis or an infection, can affect the tendons in the wrist and create pressure on the median nerve.
- Alterations in the balance of body fluids. Certain conditions such as pregnancy, menopause, obesity, thyroid disorders and kidney failure can affect the level of fluids in the body. Fluid retention may increase pressure within the carpal tunnel, irritating the median nerve.
- Workplace factors. Working with vibrating tools or in an assembly-line type of setting which requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist may create harmful pressure on the median nerve, or worsen existing nerve damage. The Department of Rehabilitation Staff from The Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Brigham & Women’s Hospital, 2007) points out that scientific evidence is conflicting and that workplace factors haven’t been established as direct causes of CTS. There is little evidence to support extensive computer use as a risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome, although it may cause a different form of hand pain.