More than 360,000 Americans die each year from complications relating to high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risks for other serious health conditions including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and chronic heart failure. A healthy diet, regular exercise and not smoking are crucial to keeping a healthy blood pressure, but massage can also be a useful treatment.
A number of studies indicate that massage, especially Swedish massage, can help with blood pressure management. Massage does this by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your “rest and digest” system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, your heart rate slows, lowering your blood pressure. It also increases intestinal activity and conserves energy.
Because we live fast paced and stressful lives, we tend to have a hard time stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system on our own. More frequently, we are functioning within our sympathetic nervous system, in other words our “flight or flight” mode. This system is incredibly useful but it can be problematic to our health if left unchecked. Among these problems are increased heart rate and high blood pressure. It’s important to find balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system’s effects.
Massage also helps to lessen stress. Stress is a big contributor to high blood pressure. Receiving massage on a regular basis can really help with stress management.
If you’re interested in trying massage therapy to manage your blood pressure, talk to your doctor. It will very likely be beneficial to add massage to your healthcare routine.
– Rachael Turner, LMT, Pilates instructor & Founder of Inertia6