Heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death in the US since the early 20s. Despite being the “silent killer” for so long, only in the recent years are we seeing an increase in awareness of prevention.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are the top 3 key risk factors for heart disease. Others include high stress, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and excessive drinking. It’s been noted that massage therapy can reduce your risks for heart disease.
1. Decreases Cortisol Levels
Stress Is a Killer. When we are stressed, our body falls into a “fight-or-flight” response system brought on by the secretion of the hormones cortisol, and adrenaline.
High levels of cortisol in the body long term, have been shown to be detrimental to your health, negatively affecting the brain, heart, and other body systems.
It’s important for our health to practice relaxation techniques, and one of the easiest ways to relax is with a massage. Studies have shown that regular massage treatments can decrease cortisol levels and help us manage our long-term stress response.
During a massage, your brain stops secreting cortisol and instead secretes neurotransmitters like dopamine, our “feel good hormone”, taking you out of “fight-or-flight” into a state of “rest-and-digest”.
2. Promotes Circulation
Physical inactivity can lead to reduced blood circulation, especially in the lower extremities. As we walk and move, the blood is pushed back toward the heart ready to be oxygenated and redistributed. The circulatory system is vital to life.
Massage therapy facilitates circulation of fluids within the body. Pressure created by different massage techniques move old blood away from the area and when that pressure is released it draws fresh blood to the area which also promotes faster healing.
3. Decreases Blood Pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is an early indicator for heart disease. Another hormone secreted during massage, histamine, can naturally cause vasodilation which refers to the widening of arteries and large blood vessels.
This vasodilation increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles in turn reducing blood pressure.
Massage is a great natural treatment for conditions like hypertension.
4. Pain Relief
Pain causes a stress response in your brain. As mentioned above, stress is a huge risk factor in heart disease. When you get a massage, your brain also secretes endorphins which are your body’s natural pain killers.
Massage can also help by releasing tight muscles that may be compressing nerve fibers, causing pain and discomfort.
The benefits of massage therapy go on and there is continuous research about how it can be used as a preventative treatment method for many different disorders. Heart health is important and with proper diet and a good stress management plan, key risk factors can be avoided.
Consider making massage therapy part of your personal wellness plan and feel the benefits for yourself.
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