Top 10 Therapeutic Benefits of Massage for Seniors
Let’s be honest – growing old is no fun. Our bodies start slowing down, and the aches and pain start creeping in. Even without chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and ailments like Parkinson’s disease, it can be difficult to stay up with all the physical activities you enjoy. The double-edge sword is that staying physically active helps improve your mobility, flexibility, and mental health.
While there is no single solution to avoid the pitfalls of aging, massage therapy can help. Massage therapy offers numerous benefits to the entire body, from easing joint and muscle pain to reducing the increased levels of stress that tend to come with aging. Therapeutic massage has also been shown the lessen the negative effects of anxiety, depression, and even digestive disorders.
“The benefits of massage therapy are wide ranging,” says Lori Murphy, licensed massage therapist at Arthritis & Sports. “From increasing blood flow to the limbs to supporting the body’s immune and nervous systems, massage is a versatile therapy.”
Lori has specialized in therapeutic massage for the nearly 20 years. While massage therapy can help people of all ages, she finds it especially helpful in aiding older individuals with their aches and pains. While the benefits are vast, let’s talk about the top ten benefits of massage for seniors:
1. Improves sleep habits and quality of sleep – Seniors who receive weekly massages report that they are sleeping more deeply and for longer lengths of time. This results in an overall feeling of better health as the body is being allowed more time to repair itself.
2. Increases blood flow to limbs – As we age and slow down, good circulation can become increasingly difficult. Poor circulation can lead to a number of symptoms, including swollen feet and ankles, cramps, and pain. Increasing the flow of blood into the limbs is one of the most important benefits for seniors.
3. Improves balance – Falling is one of the greatest concerns for seniors. As we get older, our bones tend to become more infirm and our posture more imbalanced. By elevating the blood flow to the limbs and other parts that facilitate upright posture, massage helps patients improve their proprioception (their sense of relative positioning of body parts). This aids in balance, reducing our chances of falling.
4. Stimulates the nervous system – Just like exercise, massage therapy signals the brain to release endorphins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Research has shown that therapeutic massage helps produce various hormones that are essential to the human body, including serotonin and dopamine.
5. Provides osteoarthritis pain relief – While massage won’t cure arthritis, studies have showed that seniors who utilized massage as part of their treatment for osteoarthritis had less pain and stiffness and improved physical function over the course of a few months.
6. Helps to treat musculoskeletal pain – Arthritis isn’t the only common problem associated with aging. Other conditions and ailments that cause discomfort or decrease mobility can benefit from massage, thanks to massage’s effect on blood flow, swelling, and flexibility.
7. Increases flexibility – It’s no surprise that we generally become less active and less mobile as we age. Because of this, our muscles and joints tend to become tighter and harden. Massage therapy helps to soften muscles and tissues by increasing blood flow to the areas and reducing overall muscle tension, enabling a wider range of motion in the activities of daily living.
8. Reduces stress and alleviates depression – Touch has been proven to provide comfort to the elderly, especially since so many of them are deprived of it. Massage therapy has been shown to have a significantly positive impact on those suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression.
9. Agitation due to Alzheimer’s disease – Studies have shown that slow-stroke back massage on Alzheimer’s patients helps alleviate some of the agitation expressions that come with the disease, like wandering, pacing, and resisting.
10. Quicker healing from injuries or illnesses – As we age, our joints and muscles tend to tighten, restricting our range of motion and decreasing our blood flow. This makes it more difficult to heal from an injury, as vital nutrients are unable to flow throughout the body. Massage therapy helps more fluid to flow to our muscles, connective tissues, joints, tendons, and ligaments, making us even less injury-prone in the long run.
It’s been an “I need a break” kind of year, hasn’t it? If this past year has been tough on both your mind and body, we’ve got a simple way to help relieve your pain. Massage therapy can help you live life to the fullest – because when you’re free of pain and stress, you can spend more time focused on doing the things you love most. To start your journey to recovery, contact Arthritis & Sports in Sterling, VA to schedule your individualized massage today!