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How Can Regular Massage Therapy Treat Blood Pressure!

Updated: Feb 21

Massage Therapy is well known as an effective tool to improve blood circulation and supply. However, most people are unaware that one of the most important upsides of massage therapy is that it helps lower hypertension or high blood pressure.

When we say this, we aren’t talking about short-term relief. Recent research has shown that massage therapy will potentially decrease blood pressure in the long run.

What is blood pressure?

Your blood vessels are made up of smooth muscle fibres that compress or "pump" at the same moment to allow blood to circulate, relax, and dilate to allow the blood to flow. Blood pressure is a measurement of the stress exerted by blood through the walls of blood vessels as it flows through the body.

The systolic pressure, which regulates the force produced by the pumping of the heart, is recorded as a fraction (the top number). The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is a measurement of the stress exerted by the heart between beats.

Since plaque accumulation causes arteries to harden and widen, blood needs to squeeze through a narrower passage, exerting more strain on the artery walls. The pressure in the arteries will rise much higher if the body absorbs fluid as a result of too much salt intake or any condition like lymphedema. Anyone with a blood pressure reading of more than 120/80 mmHg should be cautious or seek treatment depending on the condition, according to experts in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

What Happens When The Body Is Stressed?

When the body is stressed, the adrenal glands of your kidneys release a lot of Cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol raises blood pressure in order to pump blood to muscles in order to “run away” from potential danger, diverting blood away from essential organs such as the stomach in digestion and hormones in reproductive function.

The body prioritises survival functions and stores oxygen-rich, nutrient-filled blood to bring you to "safety". If the stressor is gone, the body moves into repair mode and starts secreting endorphins, the body's own pain relievers, and counter with Cortisol, to help with pain control in the event that you’re injured and need to get to “protection”. It, therefore, allows the blood to coagulate or clot, ensuring that you do not bleed to death if the stressor is potentially harmful.

The irony is that the same coping system that we are born with to protect us from life-threatening risks does not distinguish between job tension and actual hazards. Regardless, the body reacts in the same way. As a result, the cardiovascular system is continually bombarded by everyday stressors, causing the blood vessels and cardiac muscle to tire down over time. When you add excessive cholesterol to the mix, you've got a recipe for hypertension.

Importance of Massage

This is where a massage's charm shines bright like broad daylight. After just 20 minutes of being massaged, the body starts to produce endorphins that stimulate blood vessels, decrease heart rate, and prevent the adrenals from releasing more Cortisol. The supply of blood is momentarily enhanced, containing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood cells to help the body recover. It also aids in the release of stagnant by-products and tissue congestion caused by trauma or poor circulation. Massage helps to keep the body and mind in good shape.

Using Massage to Lower Blood Pressure

Positive or healthy blood pressure is dependent on eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising daily, managing and keeping a healthy weight, and not smoking.

Although it's too early to prescribe massage therapy for blood pressure management, getting a massage on a daily basis will help you relax and prevent yourself from high blood pressure. Try taking up yoga, mediation, or tai chi as other stress-relieving activities.

Speak to your doctor regarding adding massage into your fitness regimen if you're interested in using it to treat your blood pressure. Self-treatment, as well as ignoring or postponing routine medical care, may have significant effects.

Further Research

Hypertension, also known as elevated blood pressure, affects one in every five people in New Zealand, especially the elderly. Hypertension is characterised as having a systolic blood pressure of more than 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure of more than 90 mmHg on a regular basis. As mentioned earlier, the strain in the arteries during a pulse is referred to as systolic blood pressure, whereas the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats is referred to as diastolic blood pressure.

It is common for people to have an increase in blood pressure as they work out. A person's blood pressure, on the other hand, is at a greater risk of stroke and cardiac attack if it is consistently high.

Quitting smoking, cutting down on alcoholic beverages, doing enough exercise, improving poor eating patterns, and losing weight will aid in defeating hypertension induced by lifestyle causes.

Adults with hypertension can strive to reduce their stress levels in order to avoid blood pressure spikes. As a result, massage therapy can be helpful in the treatment of hypertension.

Following a massage, a review of the impact of myofascial trigger-point massage therapy on people with hypertension found substantial reductions in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. A study performed in 2002 at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine in Liverpool, United Kingdom found that massage therapy reduced muscle pain and heart rate in patients.

Research published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 2000, stated that massage therapy decreased hypertension and its related symptoms. Over the span of five weeks, the participants in this research received ten 30-minute massage treatments. The participants, both of whom had hypertension, had lower blood pressure, felt less down, acted less hostilely, and had lower cortisol levels in their urine and salivary samples. Researchers came to the conclusion that massage for hypertension could help lower diastolic blood pressure and alleviate hypertension symptoms.

Research performed in 1995 at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found that massage stroking of the lateral and ventral sides of the abdomen reduced arterial blood pressure in anesthetized rats.

Subjects with hypertension who got a ten-minute back rub had lower cardiac activity, according to another study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2001. The study, conducted in the Department of Exercise Physiology at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, USA, backs up the results of the previous studies.

Massage is a convenient, non-invasive, and relaxing therapy for hypertension, particularly for people who are often stressed. Patients who receive massage treatment on a daily basis have long-term reductions in depression and heart rate, two of the main causes of death in the United States. Since there are no obvious signs involved with hypertension, it sometimes goes unnoticed.

Cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol intake, a lack of physical activity, an unsafe diet, and becoming overweight are all factors that lead to hypertension. Antihypertensive medications are the most common medication for hypertension, though many drugs are often used to reach a final blood pressure reading that is acceptable.

If you’re looking for professional massage therapy for soothing your nerves and keeping your blood pressure in check, reach out to BodySense massage therapists and book a session today!

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