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How can massage therapy help my heart health?

By Mary Szklanecki Licensed Massage Therapist Did you know that many of our heart health problems are caused by stress? Some of the most common cardiovascular (heart) problems, such as high blood pressure, clogged arteries, stroke, heart attack, and stress-related diabetes, are directly related to chronic stress levels and can be managed naturally. What can regular massage therapy do for your heart if you are always under a lot of stress?

Massage therapy lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate during the session by decreasing levels of cortisol, the hormone that is elevated during times of stress, which also gives you a greater chance to sleep better with less restlessness. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), regular massage has been shown to decrease the stiffness of your artery and vein walls and may lead to a decrease in your blood pressure.

Massage therapy can also help to minimize blood clots from forming after surgery or if you must stay stationary for a long period of time. If you have a history of blood clots, though, it is very important to inform your massage therapist beforehand because it can be dangerous to work over the area of the clots.

Stress can be a major factor in strokes and heart attack. When you have a stroke or heart attack your heart beats harder to keep yourself going which increases, sugar, fat and pressure in the blood. Studies show that some people recovering from a stroke, heart attack or heart surgery noted a positive difference in how they were feeling after a massage.

Massage therapy can help level out your blood sugars and thereby reduce stress levels. During periods of high stress your body’s natural insulin stops functioning normally. This increases the sugar levels in your blood and it can cause a stress-related type-2 diabetes to develop. This is different from type-1 diabetes which is genetic and therefore is not affected by massage therapy.

Lastly, in order to see the best results, it is important that the massage therapy be administered regularly. This is because the effects of massage are only temporary, lasting no more than a week or two. In order to sustain the benefits that massage therapy has on your stress and subsequent cardiovascular health it is recommended that you schedule at least twice a month.

Always remember your health, in particular your heart health, is vitally important, so be sure to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

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