When you tell someone you are going to get a massage, you usually get a response which indicates you are getting a decadent reward. It's a reward for sure, but is it really that decadent?
Massages feel great, so people look to justify them. CNN asks the question, "Is a massage good for you, or does it just feel nice?", and uncovers a website that tracks the scientific evidence behind wellness therapies. Exercise, Massage, Meditation and Pilates are some of the other disciplines they examine. They look at research that has been conducted by reputable sources and report on clinical trials that are currently happening.
At a quick glance, the spotlight research indicates massages are quite good for you causing "profound biological changes" and "positive biological changes" while improving sleep quality and lowering the heart rate for those suffering from migraines. There is also research that suggests massage significantly reduces migraine frequency for women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.
But when you look at the research databases consulted by Spa Evidence; Natural Standard gives massage a C grade on all uses with the exception of well-being in cancer patients - where it gets a B. The other three databases provide access to articles to help answer specific questions; how does massage help with nausea, lower back pain, for those with HIV/AIDS, low birth-weight infants, etc.
Whelp. That was NOT what I wanted to hear. And It is not what most of us want to hear either!
This infographic reports:
- 58% of adult Americans would like insurance to cover massage therapy.
- 73% of massage therapists receive referrals from health care professionals.
- 96% of massage therapists believe massage should be part of the healthcare field.
As someone that gets massages on a somewhat regular basis, I can attest massages DO make me happy. The massage itself is, obviously, a reward but the 60-90 minutes of relaxation accomplishes so much more than that. Massages make me feel as if I have accomplished something as significant as exercise.
With a massage comes the peace I get from abandoning my cellphone and being completely unavailable for 60-90 minutes. My desire to "make it count" means I don't speak much during that time which allows me to nap or really think about a problem I am trying to solve.
A massage also allows me to do something for me that does not involve food, alcohol or purchasing more things - all of which make me happy briefly, but then bring on regrets later. I've also noticed that I sleep better, feel less stiff and want to take better care of myself (I guess having a stranger see you partially naked on a regular basis will do that). Win! Win!! Win!!! ...
For me, the wins are limitless.
So when looking for evidence to back up something like a massage, to me, the hard science is not as important as the way the massage makes me feel. And I feel it has real, health benefits and is not a silly indulgence.