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Massage therapy isn’t just for stress relief or relaxation. Once considered an indulgence, many now find massage to be an effective pain and health management treatment for a variety of ailments like neck and back pain, heart and circulatory conditions, anxiety and depression, sports injuries, jaw pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, and much more. In fact, a recent consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association reported that 77 percent of respondents said their primary reason for getting a massage in the past year was medical or stress-related.

New Research on the Benefits of Massage

New research featured in US News & World Report found that a 45-minute massage can slightly reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and a decrease in cytokine proteins that are related to inflammation and allergic reactions. In addition, there was an increase in white blood cells that fight infection. It also found that a 10-minute massage increased mitochondria production and reduced proteins associated with inflammation in muscles that had been exercised to exhaustion.

Using a variety of modalities, many like the ones used in relaxation massage, massage therapists focus on specific areas to reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation, while helping to improve range of motion. And, unlike many medications, massage therapy seems to have few risks and side effects, when performed by a trained practitioner.

In addition to treating existing conditions, massage therapy can be very beneficial when it comes to preventative health care. By relaxing the muscles in the body, improving circulation, increasing joint flexibility, and eliminating toxins by stimulating the immune system, massage therapy can help reduce injuries and muscle stresses caused from sports, job duties, or some illnesses.

Before using massage therapy in addition to or as an alternative to medicine, individuals who have chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses or injuries should consult with their physician.

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