(Natural News) A study from the University of British Columbia in Canada suggested the potential benefits of head massage therapy to heart health. These benefits include decreased heart rate and It was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
What is massage therapy?
Massage is the process of pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the skin, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the body. Massage therapy utilizes this process in order to help manage health conditions and enhance physical and mental wellness. Today, massage therapy is considered a part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and is recommended alongside other treatments. It has been practiced for hundreds of years in various cultures, including China, India, and Rome. In Greece, Hippocrates defined it as the “art of rubbing.” It became popular across Europe during the Renaissance period, but it was only in the 1850s that massage therapy became known in the United States. Renewed interest in massage therapy happened in the 1970s, especially among the athletes.
Head massage therapy is a subcategory of massage therapy. It is easy to administer because the person can remain clothed and the only apparatus needed is a chair. To apply head massage therapy, the therapist begins by kneading the shoulders and neck before running his/her fingers through the scalp. This stimulates the scalp by allowing the blood rush to the massaged area. To bring it back to a relaxed state, the therapist uses his/her palm and mimic light slapping movements on the back and sides of the head. After the head, neck, and shoulders, the therapist massages the face and the ear. This induces a state of relaxation for the person, and the therapist usually asks the person to stay 10 minutes after the massage in order to recover from it.
The health benefits of massage therapy
The study wanted to examine the effects of head massage therapy on cardiovascular health. They decided to explore how the application of Chinese head massage might affect the activities of the cardiac autonomous system, through measuring the parameters of heart rate variability (HRV). These included total power (TP), high frequency (HF) – HF as a normalized, pre-ejection period – and heart rate (HR).
The researchers gathered 10 participants (six men and four women) and conducted the study at the Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia. Participants were divided into two groups: a control intervention group and an intervention group. The latter received head massage therapy (HMT) in a seated position for 10 minutes while the former only remained seated with their eyes closed in the same period of time. The researchers gathered HRV measurements throughout the course of the session.
The results were promising . The intervention group showed a significant increase in TP and HF against the control intervention group. Moreover, receiving head massage decreased the heart rate of the participants more than three-fold compared to those who did not. The study concluded that head massage therapy had potential benefits to the cardiac autonomous nervous system, evident in increased total variability and a shift toward parasympathetic nervous system activity. These findings affirmed the long-held beliefs associated with massage therapy. (Related: Massage heals the tissues of the body.)
Since then, further studies on massage therapy have cropped up, and they listed a wide range of health benefits. They include the following:
- Relieves anxiety
- Aids in infant growth
- Improves sleep
- Supports cancer therapy care
- Reduces pain after surgery
- Removes tension in human body nerves
- Maintains the urinary and digestive system
Risks of massage therapy
It is important to note that massage therapy also has its risks. It involves placing pressure on various areas of the body, and there are some conditions that have to be considered first before undergoing it. A person must refrain from massage therapy if there are any of the following:
- Bleeding disorders
- Burns or healing wounds
- Bone fractures
- Severe osteoporosis
- Severe thrombocytopenia
It is best to always coordinate with the massage therapist and a doctor to ensure that a person gets all the health benefits of massage therapy while minimizing its risks.
Read more about other natural body-healing methods at NaturalHealth.news.