As we get older, countless things about our bodies change. From our circadian rhythms to our muscle tone and skin health, these age-related shifts are a natural part of being human. Still, certain things (like sore muscles and achy joints) aren’t exactly welcome parts of getting older.
If you’ve been looking for ways to find relief, perhaps you’re curious about massage therapy for seniors. What kind of benefits can it offer?
Here’s what you should know about massage therapy for older adults, including the benefits and tips to know before getting started.
Health Benefits of Massage Therapy for Seniors
If you or a loved one are reaching the later years of life, here are some potential benefits of regular massage therapy.
Emotional and Social Well-Being
As time goes on, taking care of your emotional and social wellness is vital. And studies have linked emotional health to physical well-being, which makes it especially important for people of advanced age.
The good news is that massage therapy has been shown to boost mood and relieve stress. And in many cases, it can simply bring comfort to a person who has otherwise felt down or overwhelmed.
A large part of this is likely thanks to the benefits that come from the healing touch of another human. But if a visit to a massage therapist or asking a partner isn’t an option at this time, don’t worry. Self-massage is another way you can relax and support your overall well-being.
May Ease Pain
General aches and pains are common as you get older, but so are certain medical conditions like arthritis and other musculoskeletal issues. In many cases (and with the okay from a physician), massage can work as a complement to a pain management routine.
And even if you don’t have any specific uses for it, it may help you generally live more ache and pain-free.
A small 2014 randomized trial looked at the effects of hand massage on older adults. Remarkably, the participants reported lower chronic pain scores after twice-weekly hand massages for four weeks.
As time goes on, your muscles can start to hold onto more tension and stiffness, and it can become challenging to move as freely as you used to.
Fortunately, massage is a great way to knead away tension, with past research even showing that it can bring small but significant improvements to flexibility.
Supports Relaxation and Sleep
Have you ever received a massage and had to fight dozing off halfway through your session?
Turns out there’s a reason for this. The soothing touch of massage can activate your body’s relaxation response, while simultaneously easing the “fight-or-flight” feelings that can come with stress.
The relaxation response involves a cascade of physical changes associated with calming down. For instance, your stress hormones may drop, your heart and breathing will slow, and your muscles will relax. Together, these benefits can make for deeper, more restful sleep and relaxation.
Supports Your Energy
As you get older, energy is no longer an infinite resource. The good news is that a regular massage may help you get a deeper break from all the stressors you deal with in your day-to-day life. And with less stress and better rest, you may notice a boost in your energy levels.
In one study, 54 participants over 60 received massage twice weekly for four weeks. At the end of the study, they not only reported better mental health, but they also reported increased feelings of vitality.
Enhances Overall Quality of Life
A blend of better sleep, relaxed muscles, emotional well-being, and lower sensations of pain can all make for a happier and healthier life. With these benefits in mind, massage therapy for seniors could be a worthwhile addition for anyone who simply wants to feel better each day.
What Type of Massage is Best for Older Adults?
Older adults can benefit from a wide range of massage types. But in many cases, it’s best to lean towards a lighter touch and shorter sessions. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go with no pressure at all — but for most people, somewhere closer to lighter pressure is ideal.
When visiting a massage therapist’s office, your provider may offer you a type of massage called geriatric massage.
What makes this type of massage different from a typical relaxation or deep tissue massage? Well, in a geriatric massage, a therapist will:
- Consider your medical conditions and your special concerns. In some settings, they may even consult with your healthcare team to learn more about your physical wellness.
- Use gentle pressure and passive stretching to ease your tension without risking going in too deep or causing pain.
- Make the session a bit shorter than other full-body massage sessions. Typically, geriatric massages hover around the 30-minute mark.
Are There Any Risks? What Else Should You Keep In Mind?
As you get older, your risk of dealing with certain medical conditions can increase. And while massage is incredibly soothing, it can also interact poorly with some of these conditions.
When it comes to massage therapy for seniors, here are some conditions to be mindful of:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Skin conditions or infections
- Bursitis or tendonitis
- Blood clotting disorders
- Acute injuries or inflammation
If any of these sound familiar, it’s important to ask a doctor before jumping into a session.
It’s also important to note that this isn’t an exhaustive list of contraindications, and every person’s body is unique. At any rate, be sure to check with a professional if you have any ailments that you aren’t sure about.
Before Getting Started
As an older adult, massage therapy can help you relieve aches and tension, sleep better, and live better. Everyone’s body is different, however, and it’s important to talk to your medical team to know whether or not massage is right for you.
In between massage visits, you can also use an FDA-certified massager to support your muscles, mind, and body. Some options include the MedMassager MMB05 and the MedMassager MMF07, two advanced massage tools that are trusted by wellness-focused customers around the globe.
Learn more about their uses or view MedMassager’s wide range of therapeutic tools today.