Massage Therapy and Cardiovascular Health
Decades of research shows that massage therapy is effective in lowering stress and blood pressure, which are contributors of heart disease.
Regardless of age, massage therapy performed by a skilled and qualified therapist can reduce stress, cause relaxation and enhance feelings of well being. A good massage can stimulate the nerve endings in skin, release endorphins (the feel good hormones) and inhibit the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Blood will circulate more efficiently, blood pressure will drop and heart rates will slow down.
In a recently published article entitled, “Why Massages Really Do Keep You Healthy: A Cardiologist Explains,” author and expert, Joel Kahn, M.D., writes:
“In 2008, researchers studied 263 volunteers who had a massage for 45 to 60 minutes. Average blood pressure fell by 10 mg Hg and heart rate by 10 beats per minute after one treatment. That's about as much as you might get from prescribing a new blood pressure medication for life!” adding that a more recent study examined eight women with high blood pressure who'd had an hourlong massage each week for four weeks.
“At the end of that period, their blood pressure fell by 12 mm Hg systolic (top number) and measurements in the blood reflecting inflammation (specifically VCAM-1 if you like science) fell significantly. A control group just rested for the same amount of time and had smaller improvements in the same measurements. The drop in markers of inflammation is intriguing and suggests massage therapy may have a body-wide healing effect.”
For those who do not get enough physical exercise, a monthly massage is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. If the goal is one of health maintenance, a massage every week or two can help one feel better and reduce tension and stress levels.
Always check with your physician before beginning massage therapy if you have a heart condition or other medical issues, and talk to your massage therapist about what you hope to achieve with massage therapy.
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