Improving the health of your heart can be one of the most impactful things that you can do for your body in the quest for optimum wellness. According for the Center for Disease Control, About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Therefore, it makes good sense to take a closer look into some of the ways that you can improve your heart health.
Your cardiovascular specialist will be your first resource for a treatment plan, but what things can YOU be doing to help support heart health? You may be surprised to learn that massage is on the list for complementary treatment options alongside nutrition and supplements designed to improve heart function. Research continues to be done to show exactly why massage has been such a huge benefit, but the reasons range from reduction of stress to increasing ability to be more active. Here is some of the reasoning as to why massage can help promote a healthier heart.
According to the American Heart Association, stress releases adrenaline resulting in heart rate and blood pressure to rise. In addition, chronic stress can result in damage to the artery walls. Your body does not want to be stressed out; however, our overstimulated, modern lifestyles make avoiding stress nearly impossible. Receiving regular massage allows for planned stress-free time in your schedule. The various massage techniques used in a session promote a reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol, and allows for your brain to rest and relax reducing your amount of stress.
Reduction of Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Regulation
A good percentage of us spend our days in a constant frenzy of to-do lists, crazy commutes, and a frantic mental state that never allows us to fully relax throughout the day. For some, this inability to relax carries over to the inability to sleep as well. When our bodies never have the opportunity to rest, our nervous system is not able to function properly. When we are in this “Fight or Flight” mode, our sympathetic nervous system is active. This is what keeps us going, thriving, and making sure that the kid’s are fed and the mortgage gets paid. However, we need a good balance of rest so that our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This is what allows our body to heal, digest food, and essentially reset our brains and bodies. When we are constantly in our sympathetic nervous system, our blood pressure remains higher and our heart rate is more active.
When we receive massage, our body is allowed to rest and reset and your parasympathetic nervous system takes over. Your blood pressure is lowered, your heart rate normalizes, and for at least that moment- you are at peace. If you’ve ever wondered why your stomach starts making noises half way through a massage, this is why. Your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and your BP lowers and digestion starts.
You are not yourself when you are in pain. You feel more frustrated and irritable and this has an effect on your heart because you are unable to truly rest. For those who struggle with chronic pain, the ability to feel at ease in your own body is a challenge and hence your body remains in a ‘fight or flight’ status as well. Massage not only helps to relieve the pain itself, but allows your body and brain the opportunity to reset and relax. Therefore, massage has an effect not only on the pain but also on the heart.