Positive Effects of Chiropractic Massage Therapy on Body Image
You have surely heard of massage and may consider it as a luxury. Perhaps you think of it as a special treat or as something to indulge in during vacation or maybe you turn to it only when you are feeling very stressed and need to relax. When people typically think of massage, they may not necessarily be thinking of chiropractic massage therapy. This is a trained approach towards massage. Simultaneously, you may not realize that massage can offer many benefits besides just physical health and relaxation.
In fact, research indicates that massage can aid not only stress management, it can also promote healthy body image. Learn more about body image, what factors negatively affect body image, and how massage therapy impacts body image.
Body Image Defined
Body image is not necessarily about how you actually look. Actually, body image is actually all about your perception of how you look. When someone has a positive body image, it means they generally feel accepting of and good about their appearance. When someone has a poor body image, it generally means they view their appearance in negative ways, perhaps being overly self-critical of themselves.
Current State of Body Image
The average American consumes media in various forms throughout their day. That media is fueled by advertisements. You may be surprised to learn that as you watch television, surf the internet on your smartphone, and read magazines or other print material, you are being exposed to approximately up to 5000 advertisements each day.
Many advertisers take the approach of presenting women especially, and men as well, in an unrealistic manner. Models are sometimes abnormally thin. They are given professional make-up and hair styling. Photographers use just the right lighting and angles to make the models look as good as possible. Then, any perceived “flaws” are removed in photo-editing. Ultimately, what you see in an advertisement is a falsehood.
As women, and men too, see these unrealistic advertisements as the ideal to aspire to, it affects their assessment of body image and overall self-esteem. In fact, research shows that approximately 21% of women and 9% of men aged 18 to 29 worry about their weight as a result of those expectations set up by the advertising industry.
Repercussions of Body Image
When you have a positive body image, this generally bodes well for you. Most people who have a positive body image, have good self-esteem and more confidence. This can help them feel better about navigating various social situations.
In contrast, if you have a negative body image, there can be some potentially serious repercussions. At a minimum, your self-esteem will take a hit. You may struggle with confidence. This can make you uncomfortable in social situations. It can even hold you back from living your life to the fullest if you avoid certain settings and activities.
A poor or negative body image can also affect your mental health. If can put you at risk for disordered eating and symptoms of eating disorders, which can have terrible effects on your physical health. It can also cause anxiety and depression.
Improving Body Image
Obviously, with all the potential emotional and mental health repercussions of negative body image, it would be ideal to take steps to improve it. It would be great to overthrow the advertisement industry, but that is largely outside of any one person’s control. Instead, you can and should take personal steps to improve your body image.
There are many things you can personally do to improve your body image. You can be more critical of the media you see, challenge any negative thoughts you have about your own body, and instead make positive statements about your body.
As noted, you may also be surprised to learn how massage therapy impacts body image. This may be unusual to learn, but as you learn about the research, it will become more clear how this link between massage therapy and body image occurs.
How exactly is it that massage therapy can improve body image? The body image effects of massage therapy occur as a result of the nature of chiropractic massage. At a basic level, massage is all about using therapeutic practices to heal the body. It does require interaction between a professional and a person’s body, through touch.
For most people with negative body image, the thought of having someone touch their body is terrifying. They assume that the other person will be repulsed by their size and shape. While these thoughts and fears may make a person hesitant to participate in massage, if a person is willing to, they will experience many body image benefits.
Messages You Receive About Your Body
The reason this is the case is that when people receive massage, they are allowing a trained person to interact with their body. When a person receives considerate care from a massage therapist, who treats them and their body with respect, it helps to change a person’s view of their body and themselves. They are no longer bound by poor body image. Instead, they can start to feel more comfortable with their body
There is also another message that people can receive from engaging in chiropractic massage. When a person makes the choice to treat their body well, it starts to change their relationship with their body. There is a realization that they and their body are deserving of quality care. The logical next step is to conclude that their body is not so bad, perhaps worthwhile and even good. This realization can improve body image.
A third message that people can receive from engaging in chiropractic massage is a realization that their body serves many roles beyond just appearance. By using and treating their body in another way, aside from just trying to make it fit into unrealistic expectations, people can become more in tune with the fact that the body is useful for all the activities of daily living, sport, and exercise. There can be a new-found appreciation of their body’s capabilities rather than just evaluation for how they look.
The Basic Need of Contact
Another message that people receive from chiropractic massage aligns with that basic need that every human has—contact with other humans. From a young age, people need contact and touch from other people (usually from caregivers) to thrive emotionally and physically. Receiving caring touch from another person can be uplifting in ways that can help to heal the emotional wounds associated with poor body image and low self-esteem. This makes chiropractic massage very meaningful for most people.
Finally, chiropractic massage will indeed help you to relax and rejuvenate, just as you always suspected. Having a clearer mind can give you the mental space to think about yourself, make new discoveries, and improve your evaluation of yourself. You can more easily dispel negative thoughts and take pride in yourself, body image and all.
Massage Therapy Effects on Body Image
Scientific research studies prove the positive relationship between massage therapy and body image.T he body image effects of massage therapy were even shown in research studies with patients who had symptoms of eating disorders.
In a study of women who received standard therapy and massage therapy twice per week, the results indicated that receiving massage helped to not only reduce stress, but it did also improve body satisfaction. Another study showed similar results and the effects of massage therapy were practically instantaneous. Notably, such results were seen in individuals with not just body image concerns, but eating disorder symptoms.
Seeking Out Massage Therapy
Ultimately, the theory and the research support massage therapy as a helpful treatment approach for improving body image. In some cases, chiropractic massage could be part of a larger treatment plan. Knowing all this, you can now consider visiting a chiropractor or massage therapist to improve your body image.
If the thought of using massage to improve your body image evaluation sounds good, then you will likely want to seek out chiropractic massage from a professional massage therapist. Working with a professional massage therapist, especially one educated in chiropractic care, gives you the comfort of knowing that this person is properly trained and skilled to be able to effectively help both your body and your mind.
When you participate in chiropractic massage, you will also gain more than just care in the moment. Your professional provider will also be able to assist you in better understanding your body and how to attend to it in your daily life. You can also directly discuss your concerns related to body image and receive assistance for that issue.
Ultimately, you will get much more than just a relaxing massage when you visit a professional massage therapist. You will be able to improve your mind-body connection and your relationship with your body. Indeed, body image is really about a relationship—one in which you are evaluative in either positive or negative ways. Let massage therapy help you change the dialogue you have with your body, so that you can have an appreciative relationship towards it rather than a critical one.
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C., founded Better Health Chiropractic in 1998. Now, he has a chain of chiropractic centers across Alaska. Dr. Wells received his B.S. from the University of Nevada, and his doctorate from the Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon. When not with his family, building his ongoing professional education, or helping folks at the clinic, he is either doing something community-centered or playing guitar. Dr. Wells believes strongly in the power of chiropractic massage to heal your physical and emotional well-being. If you are interested in receiving chiropractic or massage therapy services, look for a chiropractor and massage therapy near you.