Relax, Here Are 5 Benefits of Massage

man on a Planet Fitness massage chair
What better time or place to give your body a well-deserved break than at the gym following a tough workout?

by Autumn Jones

Whether you experience an occasional knot in the shoulder or suffer from ongoing muscle soreness, the benefits of massage run deeper than simply loosening up those tight spots. It's true you'll feel relief from the tightness and throbbing in your lower back, but you'll also be giving your body a well-deserved dose of care and attention.

A skilled therapist can tailor a massage to suit your needs, so be sure to communicate what brought you in for a session in the first place. If you're not looking to spend a fortune (or don't love the idea of a stranger touching you), you can opt for a hydromassage or a few minutes in a massage chair. Either way, it's important to pay attention to what muscles are bothering you, so you can target them and make the most of your massage. Here five bonuses that treating your body to some TLC can provide:

1. Headache Management

According to Mayo Clinic, massages can help relieve the discomfort of headaches, which is thrilling news for those who struggle with this recurring medical condition. If you're looking for a way to support your current headache regimen, try a few massage sessions to see if your pain starts to ease up.

2. Sore Muscle Relief

It's no surprise that gym-goers can occasionally experience sore muscles after hitting the treadmill or lifting weights, but if a long soak in a warm bath isn't doing the trick, it's time to try something new. A study on massage therapy published by Science Translational Medicine found that participants who received a massage experienced reduced inflammation in their muscles. This means your body will recover faster after exercising and you'll spend less time feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

3. Reduced Stress

Managing stress in healthy ways is an important part of your overall well-being, and one of the most documented benefits of massage is that it can actually reduce stress. After a massage, the stress hormone (known as cortisol) decreases, while the feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine) get a boost, explains Prevention magazine. Not only will your muscles loosen up, but you'll also feel the mental benefits of massage.

4. Improved Sleep

Have you ever seen a cat sleep soundly in front of a fireplace and wish that could be you? Cue, massage. According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting a massage releases the neurotransmitters needed for a night of solid shut-eye. Who knows? You may even succumb to a quick snooze during the session.

5. Support For Your Workouts

You deserve a reward for the work you've been putting in at the gym. Of course, feeling healthier and having more energy is a reward in itself — but it's not as easy to savor when you're experiencing some discomfort. Fortunately, you don't have to live with the soreness that can result from a tough workout. As Shape magazine notes, a sports massage "can reduce muscle tension and pain, lower blood pressure, increase blood circulation and lymph flow, improve flexibility and range of motion and improve muscle recovery time."

Remember, enjoying the benefits of massage doesn't mean you have to save up or seek out a professional masseuse. You can reap the same benefits from a chair massage or a hydromassage, a perk Planet Fitness offers for free to their Black Card members. What better time or place to give your body a well-deserved break than at the gym following a workout?