February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association considers effective stress-management to be key in keeping a healthy heart. In addition to relieving "stress", the scientific research is showing that massage therapy can be a safe, effective way to maintain heart health on numerous levels. Below is just a short list of ways massage therapy can have a positive impact on your health.
1. Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress
Research has shown massage therapy is effective stress relief. Massage therapy can reduce stress significantly on physical and psychological levels including decreased blood pressure and heart rate and improvements in mood and emotional states. Massage is also proven effective relief for anxiety and tension headaches.
2. Massage Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Massage has been shown to not only decrease blood pressure and heart rate, but also significantly decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (a major player in regulating blood pressure and water retention). Numerous controlled studies have shown significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol after just 10-15 minutes of massage!
3. Massage Can Reduce Dependence on Medications
In the United States, only about half the people being treated for high blood pressure have actually succeeded in getting it under control. Many people with heart disease or high blood pressure are prescribed medications. Too often, these medications do very little to help, with a long list of undesirable side effects.
In a recent scientific study, researchers studied 236 volunteers who received up to 60 minutes of massage therapy. Average systolic blood pressure fell by more than 10 mg Hg, diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm Hg, and heart rate decreased by 10 beats per minute after just one treatment. That's better a reduction than many prescription medications, without any nasty side-effects. Findings of another recent study indicated that massage also has a lasting and significant effect on blood pressure 72 hours later compared to the control group.
4. Massage Therapy Benefits Cardiac Patients
Recents studies have shown that massage therapy reduces tension, anxiety, and pain in patients awaiting invasive cardiovascular procedures. Massage therapy can also significantly reduce the pain, anxiety, and muscular tension, as well as improve relaxation and satisfaction after cardiac surgery.
5. Doctors & Hospitals Recommend Massage Therapy
In a recent survey, 64% of hospitals reported using massage therapy as part of outpatient care, and 44% use massage therapy as part of inpatient care. Among Consumer Reports readers who used deep tissue massage, usually for back or neck pain, 28% said their doctors had recommended it.
Edited and re-posted from original article published February 2016.