If you’ve ever experienced therapeutic massage therapy, you understand its lasting benefits. Not only does it ease muscle tension in the moment, but it also provides lasting relief from pain and stress.
Surprisingly, not every age group will experience this treatment the same way. While older Canadians may find themselves resistant to the idea of touch therapy, they may stand to gain the most. In fact, the list of benefits of massage therapy for the elderly is long.
We’ve put together the nine different benefits of shoulder massage therapy for the elderly:
Benefit #1: Pain Relief
A great benefit of shoulder massages is pain relief for the elderly. Unfortunately, pain is a common experience in our older years. While there are many root causes, some of the most common sources of pain among seniors include headaches, muscular and arthritic pain. Massage therapy can be helpful in improving circulation, reducing tension and generally providing pain relief.
Benefit #2: Increases Flexibility
Over time, our muscles and tissues become more rigid. Massage therapy helps to improve blood flow to feet and legs, arms and hands, softening muscles and tissue with physical touch and through the warmth of new blood flow. Seniors usually experience increased flexibility when they use massage regularly.
Benefit #3: Improves Sleep
When our bodies are in a state of general stress, our senses are heightened, making it difficult to get a good amount of sleep. Seniors often struggle to achieve adequate rest at night, as sleep cycles tend to be disrupted as we age.
Massage therapy has been shown to lower anxiety and help with other disruptive issues such as muscle tension, headaches and restless legs. Regular therapy can relax the entire nervous system, helping seniors improve the length and quality of their sleep.
Benefit #4: Immune Support
Massage therapy is believed to help release toxins and lactic acid build-up from muscle tissue, allowing it to flow into the bloodstream before leaving the body. This process effectively helps the immune system to work at its best. Generally, as we age, our T-cells are thought to weaken, leaving us at greater risk for illness. Regular massage therapy can help elderly patients improve their immune systems and overall health.
Benefit #5: Stroke Recovery
Depending on the nature and extent of a stroke, therapeutic massage therapy can be a great help in recovery. Once a patient has the go-ahead from their doctor, massage therapy can provide welcome stress relief, muscle stimulation and improved circulation. If an elderly person in your life has suffered a stroke, encourage them to ask their doctor if they would benefit from massage therapy.
Benefit #6: Nervous System Support
Massage therapy is known to be beneficial to the nervous system. With touch and pressure, our bodies release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, helping us feel generally relaxed, happy and well. For seniors, the release of these chemicals can provide welcome relief from stress and even depression.
Benefit #7: Improves Balance
One of the greatest risks to seniors is an unbroken fall. As we age, our vision, reflex time and depth perception all tend to shift, making a fall more likely. In addition, the risk of injury is higher, given that muscles and tendons become more rigid with age and bones more fragile.
Massage therapy increases blood flow to muscles, tendons and joints, improving proprioception—our sense of body parts relative to one another—improving balance by default.
Benefit #8: Provides Feelings of Being Cared For
Senior citizens often struggle with a lack of touch. Many have lost a spouse or simply don’t have loved ones nearby to offer regular hugs or hand holding. Physical touch is known to be helpful for our overall sense of wellbeing. Therapeutic massage therapy does just that—it provides direct, skin-to-skin contact over a sustained period, allowing patients to feel looked-after, comforted and relaxed.
Benefit #9: Exercise Support
Many seniors are encouraged to keep active as they age, whether they take part in something as rigorous as tennis or pickleball, something that requires periodic bursts of energy such as golf, or as gentle as walking.
For those who are able to exercise, there are many physical and health benefits but also risks of muscle strain and fatigue. Massage therapy is an ideal antidote to aching, tired muscles. With increased circulation, muscle recovery is greatly accelerated.
Regular massage therapy for seniors can greatly improve their energy levels and their overall quality of life. Some elderly people struggle with age-related diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and Parkinson’s. These can be made less painful and less debilitating as muscles are softened and circulation improves. There are plenty of benefits of massage therapy for the elderly.
If you have an aging loved one who might consider massage therapy for a specific reason or for their overall wellbeing, be sure to research for licenced practitioners and look for local ratings and reviews. Ideally, you will find someone who is both professional and understanding of seniors and their common issues.