Improve your heart health with massage


February is heart health month, which makes it the perfect time to focus on what we can do to take care of our cardiac system. Each February the American Heart Association kicks off its Go Red for Women initiative to encourage women to focus on their heart health.

Massage can play an important role in heart health, especially for individuals managing cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure and high stress, according to studies conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association. Regular massage makes a positive difference for cardiac patients who are recovering from an event such as a stroke, heart attack or heart surgery, also.

Although the heart cannot be massaged directly, it can benefit from the effects of the muscles in your body relaxing. A relaxed heart provides numerous health benefits including lower blood pressure. During the past 10 years, studies have shown consistently that regular massage therapy lowers both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure and the heart rate.

Additionally, a 2013 International Journal of Preventive Medicine study determined massage therapy helped to control blood pressure in pre-hypertensive women. This study showed that a massage can lower blood pressure not only at the time of service but for up to 3 days after the massage.

In another study in Sweden, the blood pressure of those who received regular Swedish massage therapy over the course of 30 days registered significantly lower than those who did not have a massage. Swedish massage is one of the softest massage methods offered. At Massage Concepts, light to medium pressure is used to relieve stress and optimize relaxation.

What else will a massage do for you and your cardiac health?

Because your blood pressure is lower, chances are greater that you will sleep more soundly and less fitfully. This effect is good for your heart health.

Massage decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. Less cortisol is associated with feeling less stress. Also, there is a direct link between cortisol and weight gain in the midsection. Regular massage increase serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that affect our feelings and moods.

When we are less stressed, our body is more relaxed, and we are more alert and mentally sharp.

Stroke patients typically discover that massage eases pain from contractures – the constant flexed or curled position of the muscles that is common after a stroke. Patients’ experiences can be very different depending on the amount of time that has passed post-stroke. The goal, however, is to stretch and manipulate those tissues gently to regain as much function as possible.

Discuss your cardiac health and care plan with your therapist so adjustments can be made, particularly if you have had open heart surgery.

Remember, the key to results is receiving massage regularly.

Massage Concepts offers a wide variety of massage techniques, lengths of service, price points and enhancements such as hot stones.

Therapists at Massage Concepts can personalize a massage for you that is based on your physical condition and assists you in your healthcare goals. For more information on relaxation massages or to make an appointment, call (858) 847-2777 or visit