5 Reasons why Massage is essential for your well-beingDecember 9, 2022
Different types of massages and their benefitsDecember 9, 2022
If you’re looking for evidence to support the claim that massages improve your health, you won’t have any trouble finding them. Massages have been linked with physical and psychological benefits like easing muscle soreness and reducing stress in dozens of studies dating back several decades.
According to one Australian study, if you get a ten-minute muscle massage post-workout, it could reduce soreness by up to 30%. Another review study on massage found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped 31% after just a short rubdown. But not only that! The levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin increased by around 30%, too.
Performing self-massage, including foam rolling, can be somewhat effective as well – but having a massage with a professional therapist is ideal. Studies have shown that people (including those with osteoarthritis) who regularly get massages experience less muscle soreness and pain.
Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, says that reducing pain is one of the most commonly linked benefits to massage has been shown in research.
Field’s work has demonstrated that massage may not only improve immune system function in people with leukemia and breast cancer but also reduce their physical and emotional pain. How could one modality provide so many benefits? Field cites fMRI studies which showed that massage increases blood flow to regions of the brain responsible for regulating mood and stress.
In Field’s terms, when pressure receptors under the skin are touched or stimulated, it increases activity in the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a major player in the human nervous system and controls things like heart rate, breathing, and digestion. When activity in this nerve is increased, it could have a calming effect similar to meditation. This would help explain why there is a drop in cortisol levels and other stress-related symptoms.
According to Field, when you hurt yourself and then rub the area, it plays into what is called the “gate theory” of pain. This means that your brain cannot fully register painful stimuli if related touch receptors are activated.
For example: When your elbow or knee hurts, your first reaction is usually to massage the pain away. Massaging the area activates touch receptors which signal to your brain that rubbing sensations are being felt instead of painful ones – thus alleviating some of your discomforts.”
The hormone and nervous system changes resulting from massage bolster the body’s natural killer cells, therefore improving immunity.
However, this is all controversial. some studies that reviewed previous research found only weak evidence that massage has pain-reducing benefits. Also, when it comes to proving a massage’s true effects as opposed to the placebo effect, there’s one large barrier Field and other researchers have trouble clearing: It’s almost impossible to design a study that would allow for such a comparison between different types of massages.
Whether you can afford to have regular massages, or if you only once a month, it´ll bring you many benefits to both, your physical and mental health.