Continuing the topic of Stress Awareness, this article explains the scientific reasons why massage is a good stress-reliever.
Most people are aware that massage can be relaxing and beneficial. The Mind Guide to Massage describes the effects of massage:
A common effect is a balancing one. If you are feeling agitated, it will help to calm you. If you are tired and lethargic, it will make you feel lighter and more energetic. If you are in severe distress, massage can help you feel more ‘in your body’ and grounded.[i]
But what is actually going on in our bodies when we receive a massage to give such positive results?
Recent studies give these reasons why massage relieves stress:
- Massage has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone) [ii] whilst increasing serotonin and dopamine – both of which are known to boost your mood and promote happiness[iii]
- Massage also increases oxytocin [iv] – which helps to reduce stress and helps us feel more connected with one another
- This in turn can lower the hormone adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) which is often produced in response to biological stress
What happens when you get stressed?
- Your heart rate and breathing become more rapid
- Adrenal gland and sweat gland production increases
- Remaining in this heightened state for too long can place enormous strain on your mind and body
- This can have damaging effects on your immune system and can lead to stress-related illness.
Massage therapy can help engage the Parasympathetic nervous system – the balancing side of your nervous system – the one that can calm your body. Having regular massage therapy enables your body to restore balance and flush out toxins. It can help you sleep better, increase concentration levels and improve your mental alertness, it improves your mood and eases your anxiety[v]
Massage can “be beneficial not only in reducing physical pain, but also for improving mood and fighting stress”[vi]
For those of you who have already experienced the benefits of massage, I hope you’ve found this information helpful in understanding why massage is an effective stress-reliever. For those who’ve yet to book a massage – the best way to discover how good you feel after a massage is to experience one yourself!
I’d like to end with this quote from David J Linden:
Never underestimate the power of touch”
In his fascinating book ‘Touch’ Neuroscientist David J Linden explains how touch is an essential and intrinsic part of our lives. He explores how touch is the overriding sense that makes us human.[vii]….. Look out for more on this in a future Essential Vitality blog!
Please refer to the references provided for more in-depth reading.