Most people still view massages as a luxury item. They feel like they are spoiling themselves by booking a massage whether it’s a 30-minute massage, one-hour massage or a four-hour spa day. But some business leaders are starting to look at massage more as a necessity just like working out and eating healthy. Study after study keeps touting the benefits of massage. As a result, many executives are changing their mindset from thinking of massage as a nice treat to thinking of massage as an essential item in their routine that helps them perform at the top of their game. Here are five reasons why you should stop making excuses and book that massage today.
1. Massage can help spark creative ideas. The business world is fast-paced and stressful. Sometimes people need to stop their mind and relax in order to solve a problem and think of a better solution. “Massage frees thoughts,” explains Yodi Richeson, a massage therapist with iBody Sports Therapy in El Segundo, CA. “When you are so focused on something and stressed out, you have blinders on and don’t see the whole picture. You just see what is in front of you. Massage lets executives calm down to think clearer and get a better picture—its better than coffee.” Richeson, who has been a massage therapist for more than 25 years, is currently the sports therapist for the USA National Volleyball Team and also has a number of clients who are high-level executives in the business world. She has witnessed first hand the “aha moment,” her clients have after letting go and relaxing.
2. Massage can help reduce pain and even boost your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, massage has proven to be an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Some studies have also found that massage can help people suffering from anxiety, headaches, digestive disorders, sports injuries, joint pain, fibromyalgia and lower back pain. Considering how many executives sit at their desks for long hours, suffering from neck and back pain, a therapeutic massage may be just what they need to feel better, think clearer and be more productive. Not too mention a growing body of research now indicates that massage can help boost your immune system. If you want to avoid taking time off for being sick and stay healthy during cold and flu season, scheduling a weekly massage may help. Having a massage on a regular basis increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that fight viruses.
3. Massage can help increase your productivity. For the past 20 years, there have been studies linking massage to improved brainpower and productivity. That may explain why roughly 11% companies offered workplace massages to employees in 2015 and 3% of companies planned to add corporate massage in the next 12 months, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Corporate massages typically involve having a massage therapist come to the office and provide 15-minute or 30-minute chair massages for employees.
4. Massage can help you sleep better. Studies have found that people who receive regular massages spend more time in deep sleep, which is the restorative stage of the sleep cycle. Want to avoid tossing and turning and not getting enough sleep the night before a big presentation or a day packed with back-to-back meetings? Try scheduling a massage on the way home from work the day before. It will help you relax, relieve work stress, reboot your mind and sleep better, so you are ready to tackle the next day feeling completely refreshed.
5. Massage can reduce stress symptoms. Massage helps alleviate stress, but it’s more than just the dim lights, calming music and healing touch helping the body to relax. Research suggests that frequent massage reduces cortisol, which is a major stress hormone, and high levels of cortisol have been linked to high blood pressure, suppressed immune system function and obesity. And you don’t need an hour-long massage to reduce cortisol levels or lower stress. Studies have found that even a brief 15-minute chair massage once a week can reduce stress systems.
Richeson recommends business leaders should schedule a massage on a weekly basis or every 10 days. Some of her clients, in extremely stressful positions, schedule massages twice a week. She says that the type of massage she provides often varies based on what the executive’s work week or day is like. She treats her business clients similar to her athletes. Some days they may need a deep tissue massage because they had a stressful meeting and other times they need a Swedish massage or relaxation massage. Most executives workout and eat right because they know that exercise and good nutrition helps your mind, Richeson explains. “On the same level, massage gets your mind working the right way because it helps to balance everything—workouts, job, family and life.”
It’s relatively easy to find massage services today—whether it’s a chair massage, private massage, massage at a day spa or even a massage at a hotel while travelling. Richeson’s advice is to make sure you have a credited masseuse who was recommended by someone you know and, if you feel uncomfortable at any point, stop the massage. “It is a relationship and someone that you are vulnerable with the majority of the time. You have to trust the person,” she says.
Massage may be the missing piece of the puzzle for many business leaders. “When you get a massage, it is about you,” says Richeson. “You don’t have to talk to this person. It is not about anyone but you. People need that. We need to be nurtured.”