Your wisdom is a testament to the lifetime of lessons you’ve picked up. And while the wisdom is welcome, the wear and tear that the corresponding years have put on your body is not! Even if you wouldn’t change any of your life, your body clearly isn’t in the conditions it was when you were younger.
Now it’s time to put that life knowledge to use by taking better care of you. Whether you’ve been diligently looking after your health for years or are playing “catchup,” adding something like massage therapy to your regimen could be the ticket to restoring some of your youthful vigor.
For many people, massage is considered an indulgence—a rare event meant to give yourself a pampering gift. Today, however, massage is a mainstream supplement to medical practices, and is considered a beneficial treatment for many of the ails of an aging body.
More people associate massage with health benefits than ever before. AMTA Massage cites that 86% of individuals view massage as being “beneficial to overall health and wellness.” And while massage is good for people of all ages, here we’ll highlight the five most important benefits for seniors. Then, there are also a few tips to help you select the therapist right for you!
- A wellness plan you can control: Traditional medicine is only one avenue of treatment. Procedures and pharmaceuticals are essential, but can still fall short of treating the entire person. People are increasingly turning to Eastern and natural options when they realize something is “missing” that can’t be solved by a doctor visit. Per the CDC, a nationwide government survey reflects that 36% of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine to help fill in the gaps not met by traditional Western medicine. More than ever, people understand the value of trying nontraditional practices for wellness. Massage is one of the most popular treatments that fall into this category.
- Pain management: It’s an unfortunate reality that most people think aging and pain are inevitable. However, with the proper care, pain doesn’t need to be a dominating presence in an aging person’s life.
Pain is your body’s way of alerting you that things are out-of-whack, most often in your musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Inflammation is your body’s go-to response for many of those underlying issues, and that inflammation leads to pain.
Per Harvard Health, massage can relieve pain through several mechanisms, including relaxing muscles, tendons and joints, and helping “close the pain gate” by stimulating nerve fibers and impeding the pain messages to the brain.
If you think of those aches and pains as tattoos of a full life lived, that can make the pill a bit easier to swallow. However, you needn’t lay down and just accept chronic pain with no relief. By incorporating massage as a part of your pain management strategy, you could enjoy a wider range of motion and less pain overall.
- Help for better sleep: Getting a good solid night of sleep can become a struggle for people as they age. If we persist in getting inadequate amounts of sleep, it adds up to increased stress and a reduced immune response.
As we get older, our internal clock recalibrates. As changes in the brain cells occur, it impacts message about when we are hungry and when we feel tired or alert.
To help combat this, science reveals that massage triggers serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces a calm feeling. Seniors report sleeping more deeply and for longer periods when they receive regular massage treatments.
- Assist in physical and mental relaxation: You’re old enough to know that stress is a part of life at any age, but it turns out that stress is particularly hard on older people.
Seniors deal with ongoing stress related to changes in health, fears about money, and a general concern about overall wellbeing. The persistence of stress manifests in the body by way of tense muscles, chronic pain, and decreased blood flow.
Massage therapy improves blood circulation by mechanically assisting the blood flow back to the heart, much like exercise does. Increased circulation promotes the removal of waste products from the body and reduces heart and pulse rate through activation of the relaxation response.
- Better healing for injuries and illness: As we age, joints and muscles tighten, which can make it more difficult to heal from injury because range of motion is restricted. Massage keeps your muscles, connective tissues, joints, tendons, and ligaments more fluid and less injury-prone in the long run.
Massage helps healing at the cellular level, too. A recent Atlantic article cites research led by McMasters University where scientists studied the biological changes brought on by massage. Here’s how it went:
Young men pushed themselves to exhaustion on stationary bikes. Their leg muscles were checked prior to and right after exercise. Right after a vigorous workout, each participant’s muscles showed microscopic tears and inflammation. The men received 10 minutes of massage, and then their muscles were checked again after 2.5 hours.
With just limited massage, the pushing and kneading reduced signs of inflammation. Massaged muscles produced new mitochondria, too, which assisted in a faster recovery.
Athletes and trainers have known for a long time that massage helps heal stressed and strained muscles. If you think about it, aging is just one long marathon, and your body shows signs of the exertion of a lifetime!
Selecting a Massage Therapist
If you’re new massage, you’ll want to think about how to select a therapist suited for your needs. Here are a few tips to assist you in the search:
- Identify your goals and related health issues.
- Get referrals from friends.
- If you use an in-home health professional, ask them about their services for massage or for any recommendations.
- Once you have potential candidates, ask for a brief consultation with each to discuss your goals and the therapist’s expertise for your particular concerns.
Besides…You Deserve a Massage
Incorporating massage therapy into your wellness regimen puts control of your wellbeing back in your court. As a non-invasive treatment, massage works to reduce pain, relax you, and help you bounce back from injury and illness.
Whether your goal is to keep the physical abilities you have or to feel better and even improve, you’ve got solid reasons to schedule massage treatment on a regular basis. Not only does massage have medicinal value, it’s also a way to treat yourself well, and there is nothing wrong with that!