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While massage may have developed a reputation as an indulgence for people who love pampering, studies reveal that it has wide-re

While massage may have developed a reputation as an indulgence for people who love pampering, studies reveal that it has wide-reaching, evident health benefits, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Massage helps boost immune systemResearch over the past few years has found that massage therapy boosts immune function in women with breast cancer, improves symptoms in children with asthma, and increases grip strength in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, reports the Wall Street Journal. Other massage therapy benefits include relaxing tight muscles, increasing circulation, aiding in lymphatic drainage, releasing toxins, and reducing stress. It can boost your health and keep you feeling "young" and full of vitality.

According to the American Medical Association, stress is a factor in more than 75% of illnesses today. Visiting a spa or getting a professional massage regularly is an opportunity for the desperately-needed downtime to relax and recharge your mind, body and spirit.

Doctors recommend massage to treat low back painHowever, the benefits of massage go way beyond feelings of relaxation and wellness. The Wall Street Journal notes that the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society include massage as one of their recommendations for treating low back pain.

Scientific research also is starting to show what happens in the body after a massage. One study, for example, found that a single, 45-minute massage led to a small reduction in the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the blood, a decrease in cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions, and a boost in white blood cells that fight infection, noted the Wall Street Journal.

"There is emerging evidence that (massage) can make contributions in treating things like pain, where conventional medicine doesn't have all the answers," said Jack Killen, deputy director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the USA, in the Journal.

Massage helps improve your health and well-beingWith so many things competing for our attention in our fast-paced lives, it's challenging to find the time in our normal schedule to care for ourselves and keep balance. Somehow it seems easy to fall into being tired, stressed, anxious, or exhausted, yet harder to take the time to counteract all of that with something positive like the healing benefits of massage. It truly is amazing what 60 minutes (or 90 minutes, or more, if you can) of making your muscles and body relax can do to improve your health and well-being.

In recent years, health and wellness tourism has increased substantially in Costa Rica. Spa resorts and vacations, yoga classes and yoga retreats, and professional massage are plentiful. While on vacation in Costa Rica, visit Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat in Playa Santa Teresa for a healing massage or spa treatment. Pranamar Villas offers a large menu of massages and spa treatments to keep you healthy. From 60 to 90-minute massages using various techniques, to more intense, longer treatments focusing on specific problem areas, Pranamar's spa therapists help you ease into relaxation.

Massage on Santa Teresa Beach at Pranamar Villas in Costa RicaFor instance, there is a focused treatment called "Traveler's Well-being: Re-grounding." The description states: "After many hours of sitting and waiting, irregular meals, new air, water and weather while traveling, your body is in need of rest and relaxation. This treatment will ground you and give you peace through internal organ massage, Reiki, Reflexology and Therapeutic Massage. Your body will thank you!"

Pranamar offers massages, focused treatments, custom treatments and special health packages at their beautiful beachfront resort. Following the hotel's commitment to health and the environment, all massage oils and lotions are 100% organic and made in Costa Rica.

Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat, Santa Teresa Beach, Costa RicaThe lovely, intimate, boutique hotel fronts the spectacular beach of Playa Santa Teresa on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. A TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence award winner, Pranamar offers luxurious two-story poolside villas, elaborate oceanfront villas and tropical bungalows, all designed with Indonesian flair and simple elegance. The flowing serpentine saltwater pool and abundant lush tropical gardens lend beauty to the eye at every turn.

There is definitely an uplifting energy at Pranamar. "Prana" in Sanskrit means "vital energy" and "breath", and "mar" means ocean in Spanish. Pranamar Villas offers daily in-house yoga classes, regular yoga retreats and workshops, all-inclusive yoga vacations, and surfing and yoga holidays.

By Shannon Farley

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