What Are the Benefits of Massage for Healthy Aging?
By the 21st Century, over 70 million baby boomers will reach 65 years of age or more. If you want to be an active senior and you are between the ages of 40-60, you need to start taking care of your body NOW! If you are currently over 65 and someone who takes good care of your body, that’s great! So now it’s time to get into a new healthy mindset and add massage to your regimen of staying healthy for the years to come.
So how can massage help you grow old gracefully? If you suffer from chronic pain, high blood pressure, stiff joints, depression or even difficulty sleeping, here are some of the ways that massage therapy can help keep you out of a nursing home in the later years of life:
- Massage helps to increase circulation which helps nourish the tissue, aids in healing, increases muscle tone, and helps restore elasticity in your skin (reducing wrinkles).
- By reducing muscle tension, you can correct postural holding patterns that cause pain or even balance issues.
- It can increase the secretion of fluid found in joints called synovial fluid, which lubricates the cartilage and allows freedom of movement, reduces stiffness, and pain in joints.
- Getting regular massage can improve overall mental health by balancing serotonin and dopamine in the brain that can cause depression.
- Neurologically, it can alleviate stress and reduce pain by stimulating the brain to secrete the body’s natural tranquilizer called endorphins. Excessive and chronic pain and stress can shorten the life cycle by increasing blood pressure and wear and tear on the heart.
Research published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (IJTMB)* found that older adults who receive massage therapy for up to six weeks could benefit from decreased blood pressure and improved stability. “This study suggests that regular massage therapy can produce several advantages for the older generation, including a relaxation effect for the entire body, lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, and improving balance, amongst other things,” says American Massage Therapy Association President, Cynthia Ribeiro.
Most importantly, the best benefit of all is allowing the body to reconnect to the mind and to experience positive touch. For some seniors, their loved ones have passed on or are ill. Loneliness and the lack of touch is something we don’t always think about if the elderly person is healthy and vibrant. Deep down, if touch is lacking in their lives, they are more likely to experience health problems in their future. It can improve the quality of life for so many, no matter what age they are. It can even help you reduce the amount of medication you are taking for certain conditions. In the end, it’s about feeling good and doing everything possible to have health and vitality to make time stand still, even if that means just slowing down the life clock a little bit.
JoEllen M. Sefton, PhD, A.T.C., C.M.T., Ceren Yarar, PhD, P.T., Jack W. Berry, PhD
Sandy Saldano, Lic. Massage Therapist
Owner of Therapeutic Kneads, Ltd.