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10 Reasons Why Men Need a Massage

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Given the state of evidence around the issues of men’s health and wellbeing, massage therapy is a pro-active approach in addressing some of these. It’s clear that one of the obstacles for men is a conditioned attitude in accessing health services. Massage is ideally placed to challenge the barriers to health-seeking, as it provides an alternative complementary therapy providing men with preventative health care strategies.

Here are 10 reasons why men would physically and emotionally benefit in having a massage. In addition, how massage can assist them to have a holistic, rather than a functional view of health.

  1. Sports and physical activity: Massage not only eases the onset of muscle soreness, but can speed healing by boosting the body’s circulatory and immune system. The deep tissue therapy of a sports massage is specifically designed to improve athletic performance or recovery from the hard work done by gardening, building or simply putting the body to extremes.
  2. Statistics show that men are less likely to seek help when they’re feeling down, potentially leading to depression. The serotonin boost provided by massage can lift the blues and improve their mental outlook.
  3. Massage can alleviate physical symptoms of stress, like headache and high blood pressure, which can affect men as they age. Massage brings about measurable changes in the body’s sympathetic nervous system – the one charged with propelling us into action during the “fight or flight” response to stress. However, because our lives today include business emails at 10 o’clock at night and loud phone conversations on the train home, our stress response often lingers in the “on” position at times it shouldn’t. Massage helps dampen the body’s stress response by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol, which not only fuels our split-second stress reactions, but it can wreak havoc on the body when one is chronically stressed. So reducing the body’s cortisol level is generally considered a good thing.
  4. The “no fuss” approach to life that men have can sometimes be a barrier to getting a massage because of the connotations associated with spas or wellness centres. There is a perceived uncomfortableness in these environments with their reluctance to try cucumber water and beauty products while listening to the airy vocalizations of whales. But not all massages need these surroundings. Enhance Connections massages takes place at your own home, in your own space and on your own time.
  5. Men often suffer from back and neck pain, caused by incorrect postural habits such as sitting at a desk all day or repetitive injury at work. A massage can ease back and neck pain – plus, our therapist can highlight your awareness to adjusting these habits and guide you with appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as recommendations for self-maintenance on the job.
  6. Sometimes men avoid massage because they are afraid they’ll drool, pass wind, get an erection or just fall asleep. These are all normal physical bodily reactions and are totally fine in a massage. Believe it or not, your therapist is very familiar with body responses as they take a clinical approach with working on the body and are quite used to it.
  7. Men are typically less flexible than women, which can make them more prone to injury and muscle pain. Massage is known to increase flexibility and assist in resetting the sensory nerve endings in muscles, tendons, and joints with the proprioceptors to the brain.
  8. About 20% of all men suffer from insomnia, an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep and insomnia is associated with a lack of the hormone called serotonin. Massage boosts levels of the feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin, and dopamine, which are responsible for feelings of relaxation and contentedness, and the way the brain processes rewards. These neurotransmitters are the targets of various mood medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. The fact that massage is linked to improved levels of these coveted chemicals is nothing to sneeze at.
  9. Massage is good for heart health, boosts circulation and lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. All these things help reduce stress on the heart and improve cardiovascular health. In addition to suppressing the stress response, massage actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down and restores balance after a major stressor is over. When the parasympathetic nervous system switches on, blood is directed toward endocrine glands, digestive organs, and lymphatic circulation, while the heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. With the parasympathetic nervous system in gear, our bodies can better extract nutrients from the food we eat, and more effectively eliminate toxins because circulation is enhanced. With parasympathetic activation, the body enters into a state of restoration and healing.
  10. There is also consensus that massage boosts immune function. This benefit is probably due to the reduction of cortisol, mentioned earlier: too much of the pesky hormone can dampen the effectiveness of the immune system by immobilizing certain white blood cells. Reducing circulating cortisol removes a barrier to effective immune function, so massage could help prevent illness by boosting immunity. Highly desirable in the cold and flu season.

So gentlemen, take responsibility for yourself and your health by incorporating massage therapy into your lifestyle and fitness regimes. After all, it’s a very palatable and pro-active approach to maintaining your health and wellbeing.


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Men’s Health Week Special

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Our last 4 blog posts explored the results from last years report on the status of men’s health in Australia. Some interesting facts around mental health, social isolation, health service access and research funding emerged from 2016 report “Male health in Australia A call for action…”

Australian Men’s Health Forum is the peak national forum promoting a social approach to male health and wellbeing. You can download the 2016 report HERE.

Enhance Connections is supporting International Men’s Health Week throughout the month of June. We’ll be posting articles and relevant links about men’s health and wellbeing issues from a range of resources to help promote an awareness within the community …. And we will be sharing this years findings as they become available.

We’ll be giving attention to last years results by focusing emphasis on how massage therapy fits within men’s mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, health and longevity, male-specific prevention strategies and an alternative health-seeking approach.

This year’s theme “HEALTHY BODY – HEALTHY MIND: KEEPING THE BALANCE” explores the different ways men and boys are managing to keep healthy, physically and emotionally, in a busy and sometimes challenging world.

Our other contribution to the Men’s Health Week initiative is in partnership with you!! By offering an attractive discount which assists you to make a practical donation to the cause for the special men in your life. Sons, brothers, partners, dads or grand dads can all benefit from the practical application of massage therapy.

For the month of June our Men’s Health Week Special offers a hybrid relaxation and deep tissue therapy for $60 per hour. We deliver this to your door, day or night, mid-week or weekends and what’s more – you don’t have to be a man to enjoy the experience …. although, it would be a wonderful way to show your favourite male that you’re conscious about the issues and demonstrates that you support the initiative as well as giving a little love to your beloved.


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Research Funding for Male Health

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Research spending

Government research funding for male health lags significantly behind that for female health. Since 2003 funding for research relating to men’s health has been about a quarter of that provided for women’s health. Building the evidence base on male health is crucial. Identifying the determinants (individual and social) and the causal pathways for good and poor health in males in general and in specific sub-groups of males will allow resources and effort to be dedicated to activities where the most benefit can be gained. To accomplish this will require dedicated interdisciplinary and multi-method research into male health, but also require undertaking evaluation of both current and future projects and interventions.

What next ?

The aforementioned draw attention to some of the key issues affecting the health of Australian males. The persistence of these issues warrants as a priority the re-affirmation of the National Male Health Policy together with development, promulgation and funding of commensurate State and Territory policies. Moreover, and in keeping
with the key tenets of gender equity in health, health and research resources corresponding to the demonstrable needs associated with poor male health should be made available by policy makers, planners and service providers alike.

Rather than the general “one-size fits all” approach to addressing these issues, male-specific prevention strategies that take into account men’s differential vulnerabilities, including for sub-groups of males at special risk, are more likely to be effective than those that do not.

In order to address issues regarding health service use and perceived barriers to male health-seeking, we need a better appreciation – including through research – of the factors that act as obstacles to male health-seeking and health service utilisation. Moreover, policy, health services and health promotion programs need to better accommodate the differing social constructs for males and acknowledge the factors influencing their health-seeking behaviour.

Strategies need to actively encourage health service utilisation by legitimising health-seeking behaviour as fundamental to perceptions of male health and illness. There is a need for health promotion programs that are male orientated and which specifically target males.

Health services and providers need to be cognisant of particular physical, sexual and mental health issues that concern men as well as the social, geographic and cultural barriers that sometimes limit their engagement with health services. Health professionals also need a better understanding of factors influencing male health and health seeking behaviours and guidance in how to better structure clinical and management practices to encourage engagement of males. Clinicians should be attuned to differences in the way males express health concerns and the different symptomatology associated with certain conditions. They need to be more opportunistic in exploring sensitive issues, including sexual and reproductive health and mental health, particularly in the case of marginalised groups of males.

If there are to be strategies that address the socio-economic determinants most responsible for poor male health, a wider and more strategic commitment from departments other than health is required. When the siloed structures of government institutions limit cross-sectorial change, interventions need to be broken down into more manageable initiatives that fit within existing government departmental boundaries and capacity.

References:
Australian Men’s Health Forum is the peak national forum promoting a social approach to male health and wellbeing – www.amhf.org.au
http://www.amhf.org.au/storage/Male%20Health_screen.pdf 

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Access to Health Services by Men

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Work health & safety

The most dangerous, deadly and health diminishing work in Australia is overwhelmingly performed by men, so it is no surprise that males experience 70% of the burden of disease related to work related injury. Although the incidence of work related fatalities has decreased by about 25% over the last decade or so, nationally about 15 serious workplace injuries occur every hour and at least one work-related death occurs every other day with males accounting for 93% of all work related fatalities. Clearly more needs to be done to correct this parlous state of affairs.

Health service utilisation and heath seeking

Gender (masculinity) and gender socialisation (manhood) affords males a different experience of health and serves to both prescribe and limit their lives. For many, the gender-based characteristics of strength, resilience, independence, self-reliance, need for control, and problem-solving act as barriers to health-seeking. Cultural stereotypes also augment male reticence for seeking out screening and preventive health care.

Research suggests that many males have a functional view of health, not seeking help until the problem is shown to clearly impact on physical function. Many are disposed to self-monitoring, seeking information from different sources before coming to an informed decision about whether to seek help. They often display indirect health
information seeking, viewing friends, partners and other repositories as sources of health advice until function is clearly impaired, when they then seek professional help. A common consequence is lesser engagement with illness prevention and health promotion programs, and lower utilisation of health services, particularly for chronic disease, sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

Sexual & reproductive health

About one third of males report at least one sexual and reproductive health issue with erectile dysfunction, lower urinary tract symptoms and prostate disease being the most common. Prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of
death for males and the second leading cause of cancer, yet many men have limited awareness of the prostate, its function or the range of conditions affecting it. There is still much public (and clinician) confusion regarding the utility of screening, investigation and treatment of prostate cancer; significant research is still required.

Sexually transmitted diseases are still common and responsible for significant long-term morbidity and mortality, mostly in males and particularly Aboriginal males. Sexuality, demographic and socio-economic characteristics together with frequency of other risky behaviours are key contributors.

Possible strategies to address sexual and reproductive health issues include education directed at the general public and health professionals; opportunistic enquiry about reproductive health as part of a general health assessment, including with older men; and encouraging general practitioners to initiate discussions with older patients about sexual health.

References:
Australian Men’s Health Forum is the peak national forum promoting a social approach to male health and wellbeing – www.amhf.org.au
http://www.amhf.org.au/storage/Male%20Health_screen.pdf 

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Male Mental Health and Social Isolation

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Mental health

Poor psychological health is associated with increased risk of chronic disease, poorer lifestyle choices, higher rates of physical illness, lower education attainment, lower productivity and income, poorer personal relationships, social isolation and general reduced quality of life. Men suffer a significant burden of mental illness, which over the life course affects just under half of the Australian male population; about 1 in 6 males report experiencing a mental illness in the previous 12 months. The most commonly reported disorders are anxiety and depression, substance
use disorders and affective disorders. Males account for three quarters of completed suicides nationally which equates to about four suicides per day, a continuing and alarming statistic.

Males in rural and remote regions, particularly young men, are more likely to commit suicide than their urban counterparts and are less likely to have sought professional help prior to the act. This suggests that mental health disorders in males may be under-recognised, under-diagnosed and under-treated. Accordingly mental health remains a key target for improvement with regard to men’s health.

Social isolation

The male experience of social inclusion as well as social control and cohesiveness are also important determinants of social and emotional wellbeing, health and longevity. There are a number of studies demonstrating that the absence of meaningful social relationships poses health risks comparable to factors such as smoking, alcohol, high cholesterol, poor diet and lack of exercise. Links have been demonstrated between low social support and rates of depression and suicide. Older, retired, single (including separated and widowed men) and rural men are at particular risk. Screening for indicators of social isolation and strategies that promote socialisation for at-risk men ( e.g. through service clubs, men’s sheds) may be just as important a strategy for improving male health as are medical interventions.

References:
Australian Men’s Health Forum is the peak national forum promoting a social approach to male health and wellbeing – www.amhf.org.au
http://www.amhf.org.au/storage/Male%20Health_screen.pdf 

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