Massage is becoming more and more accepted by the medical community with continued research suggesting that massage eases insomnia, boosts immunity, and prevents PMS. Some hospitals are making it a standard therapy. Television’s Dr. Oz specifically recommends massage for heart patients. “All of our surgery patients are offered the treatment…and it’s a mandatory weekly prescription I give myself,” says Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and a member of the board at Luminari, a health-education company.
Massage helps so many areas of your body. It’s especially effective for aches like lower back pain. Several studies show massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Those changes slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and block your nervous system’s pain receptors. Massage also increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps them heal.
Massage also seems to ease distress from migraine, labor pain, and even cancer, as well as the body tenderness seen with fibromyalgia, says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. These benefits may last as long as a year after just a few treatments, says Partap Khalsa, Ph.D., a chiropractor and a program officer at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the agency funding many major studies on massage.
On this upcoming Valentine’s Day consider giving and receiving massage. Both are good for your heart.