Massage therapy has many benefits. Massage is therapeutic and is particularly beneficial for people in their golden years. Not only does massage help to alleviate stress and muscle tension, but it also provides our family members with enhanced mobility, more energy, better sleep, and improved moods, among other benefits. If you’re looking for ways to help your parents maintain their health and independence, consider adding massage therapy to their physical therapy routine. Learn about the many massage therapy benefits for seniors today.
Massage Increases Blood Flow
Staying physically active is critical for people of all ages, but it’s even more critical as we advance in years. Maintaining good circulation helps our bodies—and specifically our heart—to function well, which is especially important for older people who may be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. According to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology, regular massage therapy can increase blood flow to your limbs by up to 30%. Improved blood flow means better cardiovascular health and a lower risk of other conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Good blood circulation is also vital for healing wounds and fighting off infection.
Massage Improves Balance and Gait
While many massage therapists are trained in Swedish techniques, which is very relaxing, it is essential to note that massage therapy can also benefit people with balance issues. A recent study found that patients who received twice-weekly massages saw significant improvements in balance and gait compared to those who received no treatment at all. Having good balance and gait is important for reducing the risk of falls.
Massage Softens Hard Muscles and Tissues
When we age, our muscles and tissues may become less pliable. This makes it harder for us to move around and increases our risk of injuries or falls. The pressure from massage can stimulate blood flow in the body and loosen up areas that have become hard and inflexible. Our muscles, bones, organs, and even our teeth can all benefit from increased blood flow from massage therapy! Research shows that massages actually help strengthen bones by increasing calcium uptake.
Massage Stimulates the Nervous System
Physically, massage therapy stimulates nerve endings in your skin and along your spine, which causes a release of chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. It also triggers a response from your parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate. In essence, when you get a massage, you’re turning off stress responses by turning on happy ones. On top of all that, getting a massage feels great! Having a spa day doesn’t just make you feel better in that moment; it also releases endorphins to help reduce chronic pain and inflammation, which helps slow aging in general. Massage therapy is a good case in point where an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.
Massage Helps with Stroke Recovery
For stroke patients, massage therapy can help to reduce pain and swelling, increase range of motion, and improve blood flow. A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente on more than 900 stroke patients found that those who received massage therapy twice a week had fewer complications, less fatigue, and improved moods. Massage can also aid in balance training, which is essential for stroke survivors to relearn how to walk.
Massage Increases Flexibility
Massage increases flexibility, which is significant for older family members since many of them are less flexible than they used to be. Flexibility isn’t just about being able to put your feet behind your head—it also means reduced body pain and improved mobility. By increasing the range of motion, massage therapists can help seniors improve their lives physically and emotionally.