Massage is a great way to achieve balance in your body at both physical and emotional levels. What’s more it can make you feel fantastic (just thinking about having the tension worked from my shoulders makes me want to groan in bliss). What you might not know are the reasons why.
Here’s a snap shot of just some of the benefits of massage and the clinical reasoning behind them.
- Makes you feel good – massage increases the Endorphin, Enkephalin and Dynorphin levels in your body, which are neuroendocrine chemical mood lifters, as well as increasing dopamine (influences positivity) levels.
- Alleviates pain – massage increases the feel good chemicals in our bodies described above, which also help modulate pain. It also increases serotonin and oxytocin levels, which help bring emotional balance.
- Reduces muscular tension and pain– massage changes the consistency and pliability of connective tissue, including muscle, fascia and tendons, by softening it. This facilitates the flow of blood through the muscle, helping it to flush out the pain causing toxins in the muscle. By softening muscles, massage can also reduce painful pressure placed on nerves caused by tight muscles.
- Increases circulation – massage stimulates blood and lymph flow in the body, which assists the cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic and endocrine systems transport nutrients, chemicals and waste around the body so that it can perform at its optimal level.
- Reduces stress – massage can reduce stress hormones (cortisol and other glucocorticords produced by the adrenal glands) in the body and regulate adrenaline levels. This combined with the increase in feel good hormones created by massage can help lower stress and alleviate its effects.
- Promotes sleep – by reducing cortisol levels which can disturb sleep, and increasing neuroendocrine chemicals that have a calming effect such as serotonin. Massage can assist in improving sleep patterns.
- Improves immune function – massage balances the levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which in turn increase the production of natural killer cells in the immune system. Massage can also decrease Cortisol (stress hormone) levels which can suppress immunity.
- Increases attentiveness and learning – massage increases the neuroendocrine chemical levels of dopamine (affects motor activity involving movement, focus and positive moods), and serotonin (allows a person to maintain context of appropriate behaviour and is a mood regulator).
- Facilitates growth – massage increases the availability of growth hormone (which helps with tissue repair and regeneration in adults) indirectly by encouraging sleep and reducing levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.