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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.