6 Benefits of Massage for Older Adults

A soothing massage session is the best way to unwind after a hard day. An hour of relaxation will surely uplift your mood, deflate your stress and restore your energy. However, there’s more you can gain from it apart from these instant perks. Be amazed by these benefits of massage for seniors and learn how to pamper yourself at home any time.

1. It Improves Sleep

Have you heard someone boast they’ve had the best sleep in a while after a calming massage? Even without the science, anyone can attest an hour of massage makes them sleep like a log. Fortunately, there’s also evidence for it.

A controlled study evaluated the effects of two sessions of electrical automatic massage daily on the cognition and sleep quality of people with Alzheimer’s disease over 12 months. Researchers found that patients experienced muscle relaxation after massage, positively affecting their cognition and sleep quality. Good, adequate rest is one of the benefits of massage for seniors.

2. It Stimulates the Nervous System

Massage can signal the brain to relax by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system — the side responsible for the rest and digest response. Its primary role is to ease the body after encountering a threat or stressful activity, and restore homeostasis to initiate recovery.

One study explored the benefits of massage in activating the parasympathetic system by measuring heart rate variability before and after exercise, and immediately after a massage. Nine men — five of whom were assigned to the control group and four to the massage group — participated in the study. Researchers found massage after strenuous exercise can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to boost body recovery.

3. It Boosts Blood Flow 

Like other bodily functions, circulation declines as you age, leading to health symptoms like muscle cramps and tingling. It affects your entire body from hands to toes, which can limit your mobility in activities like gardening, walking and exercising.

Improved circulation is one of the best benefits of massage for older adults. Applying pressure on joints, muscles, and tissues can help restore adequate blood flow and improve your range of motion so you can easily do yoga, water aerobics, and daily activities. The most prominent option is to visit a spa, but you can also get a foam roller or massage gun to fix poor circulation problems at home and simultaneously soothe tense muscles. Spend 60 seconds treating each muscle group until you feel your mobility increase.

4. It Enhances Flexibility

Are you having trouble stretching your arms above your head when doing a yoga pose? A soothing massage session may help relieve deep soreness and recondition your body for better execution.

Another study looked at the effects of massage on flexibility in 35 athletes studying physical education at university. They were asked to do static stretching, static stretching followed by a massage and neither, performing countermovement and squat jump tests to measure their flexibility.

Those who did stretching increased flexibility by 12%, but their performance on the squat and countermovement jumps decreased by 10.4% and 5.5%, respectively. It made athletes more flexible, but their jumping performance was compromised. In contrast, following static stretching directly with massage boosted flexibility by 16% without reducing jumping routine, proving massage had positive benefits.

5. It Alleviates Depression and Anxiety

One of the best benefits of massage for older adults is the minimized risk for mental health conditions. Thirty-eight seniors participated in a controlled trial that determined the effect of aromatherapy massage on mental health. 

They were divided into intervention and control groups, with the former receiving 20 minutes of massage three times a week for two three-week periods with a week of rest. The latter group only received home care services.

Anxiety and depression levels were measured using the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale. The mean anxiety and depression scores reduced considerably after aromatherapy massage, implying it can be an excellent supplementary treatment for mental health disorders. Besides its relaxing benefits, aromatherapy is also good for physical health. Lavender can help reduce acne, while frankincense can keep your skin healthy and improve wrinkles.

6. It Mitigates Pain

Massage may also improve chronic pain conditions in older people. Some 78 seniors living in a community joined a randomized trial to determine the outcome of self-administered moxibustion and massage on pain, sleep quality, depression, and overall well-being. People were divided between control and intervention groups. 

The latter was given two moxa sticks daily and received assistance from caregivers and volunteers to do the procedure for five days.

After the testing period, the intervention group reported a decrease in subjective pain level, and considerable improvement in sleep quality and depression compared to the control group, which exhibited no effects. Both moxibustion and massage provided pain relief for older adults.

Massage Has Multiple Health Benefits

The therapeutic benefits of massage for seniors encompass many aspects of well-being, from sleep to cognitive health and symptom management. You have every reason to indulge in a soothing massage whenever you have the chance. Besides the physical health benefits, it’s the perfect way to decompress after a stressful day.

Myobuddy brings the health benefits of massage to your home, so you don’t have to drive to the spa or wait for a session. Our tools can help you or an older family member relieve the deep soreness, and achieve pain and stress relief conveniently. If you have a question about our offerings, we’ll be happy to help — message us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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