When most people think of massages, they envision grand vacations and getaways to exotic far-off places. They don’t typically associate these soothing sessions with health maintenance. However, there are a number of benefits to regular massages.
Plenty of researchers have studied what time with a masseuse could do to a person’s body and mind. Many of them have concluded that periodic visits to massage therapists help soothe ailments and can prevent future health problems as well.
However, massage therapy isn’t only for current relief or prevention. After all, our bodies need constant care. Studies have shown that regular massage therapy keeps stress levels and anxiety down. They have also found that it can boost our body’s energy levels.
A good massage can do wonders to our state of mind and physical well-being. Read on to learn how massage therapy can improve our everyday mood and energy.
Body Systems Affected by Massage Therapy
Studies have shown that massage therapy can affect three major parts of the body in charge of major functions: the nervous, circulatory, and musculoskeletal systems. Different massage techniques can affect each of these systems in many ways.
1. Massage helps maintain healthy hormone levels in the nervous system
Parts of this system can trigger the release of hormones that activate the “fight or flight mode.” When the body feels stressed, scared, or overwhelmed, it sends signals to the adrenal gland to release hormones, such as adrenaline and norepinephrine. These chemicals raise a person’s blood pressure and heart rate, which can be interpreted by the brain as a state of anxiety or stress.
Massage therapy can help this system achieve a state of rest with long, fluid strokes. Typically, it takes some time for the body to get used to the masseuse’s calming motions. After about 15 minutes, however, your muscles should feel relaxed and less tense.
People usually feel a sense of serenity at the end of a one-hour massage session. These emotions and peace of mind cause the nervous system to signal the release of “happy” neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals can influence a person’s mood.
- Endorphins relieve pain and reduce feelings of stress. They are commonly associated with positive emotions in the body. Laughter, dark chocolate, and exercise can trigger the release of endorphins as well.
- High levels of serotonin keep us feeling good. This neurotransmitter, in particular, is linked to the regulation of a person’s day-to-day mood. It affects our appetite, sleeping habits, and social behavior. It can also influence our memory and motor functions. It should be noted that exercise and a good diet are linked to high serotonin levels in the body.
- Meanwhile, dopamine is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This chemical is most associated with the feeling of satisfaction. It’s the reason you feel giddy when you’re in love or accomplished after completing a task. The brain uses dopamine to encourage the repetition of specific actions and emotions.
2. Massage improves blood flow in the circulatory system
The circulatory system is in charge of the blood that flows from hearts to the veins, capillaries, and major organs of our bodies. Massage therapists use firm pressure to open up congested pathways (i.e., arteries and veins), allowing blood to flow through easily. By doing this, red blood cells can deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, which gives it the energy we need to function.
3. Massage assists with pain relief, muscle repair, and normalizes breathing through the musculoskeletal system
The musculoskeletal system provides support and stability and influences the body’s movement. Daily activities can cause muscles and joints to tense up and feel tight, affecting our range of motion and causing us some discomfort or pain.
With deep kneading strokes, massage therapists can release some of that built-up tension and loosen up our muscles, tendons, etc. As a result, pain in certain areas of our body decreases, giving us relief, which can undoubtedly put anybody in a good mood.
Massages can also hasten muscle recovery, allowing us to get a good night’s sleep and giving our body the energy to tackle the challenges of a new day.
Another way massages help us rest via the musculoskeletal system is by fixing our breathing habits. Most people don’t realize it, but the improper intake of air can affect our energy levels. Shallow breathing or pauses in breathing while in bed is a condition called sleep apnea. It can cause people to feel foggy even after hours of shut-eye.
However, loose and relaxed muscles can also help us breathe more naturally, allowing the right amount of oxygen to enter our bodies throughout the day and during sleep.
Relaxed and Revived with Massage Therapy
As you may be able to tell from the discussion above, massage therapy has many physical and emotional health benefits.
Physically, massages can help a person feel energized because they reduce tension in the body and provide pain relief via the musculoskeletal system. Massage helps the circulatory system provide the necessary sustenance our body needs by improving blood flow, thereby giving a boost in energy. Meanwhile, therapists can influence a client’s mood via the nervous system by easing stress levels and expelling any anxious feelings.
People face stressful situations and challenges every day. There’s little that we can do to avoid this, though short massage sessions can help alleviate some of the stress and bodily discomfort that are encountered on a daily basis. Regular massages are even better, as they help keep the body relaxed, thereby maintaining a calm state of mind.
Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the School of Natural Therapies, a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. He spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time, he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing and EFT, which culminated in running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry.