If you’ve been feeling like a bundle of nerves lately, you’re not alone. Whether it’s caused by work, finances, or the state of our country, the number of adults experiencing diminished wellbeing due to stress – including sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue – hit 75% in 2017.
The effects of stress on your body can’t be overstated, and one holistic solution is massage therapy, but have you ever wondered what’s actually happening inside your body to make massage such an effective stress reliever and pain reducer? Today we’re going over the science behind the impact of massage on the body, breaking down each known benefit to understand the mechanisms that make it work.
As the rhythmic, gliding movements of the massage lift you into a calmer mental state, they’re actually activating what’s called the parasympathetic nervous system. As they do this, your nervous system relaxes and your body ramps up production of feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin while simultaneously reducing stress hormone (like cortisol) production.
2. Pain Relief
When the muscles in your body receive deep massage, it decreases the activity of the proteins that cause inflammation, called inflammatory cytokines. At the same time, the levels of proteins that stimulate the production of mitochondria – which provide the body with energy and speed muscle recovery – are increased. This process causes very similar pain relieving effects to over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.
3. Better Sleep
Poor sleep has been linked to a number of chronic conditions, and sleeping well is a pillar of good health. It’s been well documented that professional massage helps your body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. But how? Massage bypasses the body’s natural defense mechanisms to induce deep relaxation while boosting serotonin levels, which helps you to feel calmer by encouraging the release of melatonin. Because massage draws your focus away from the worries that invade your mind at night, sleep may come more quickly. And when the nagging hip or back pain that used to keep you awake eases up after your massage session, sleep comes more easily.
4. Increased Circulation
Massage therapy can improve your circulation, pushing more freshly oxygenated blood to all the farthest corners of the body and helping you to fire on all cylinders. This improved circulation helps the body heal on a cellular level by providing nutrients to tissues. It also leads to decreased muscle soreness and tension. So the next time you have a long run or a sweaty spin class on your calendar, follow it up with a professional massage and you’ll notice you’re not nearly as sore afterward.
5. Improved Mental Health
Mental health disorders like depression are becoming a pressing global health problem, according to the World Health Organization. In fact, it’s estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability around the world. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, regular massage can reduce your anxiety by up to 50% in some cases. Studies show that the boosted mood you’ll enjoy from a massage can even help you bond with your partner.
Want all these benefits and more? Make it a routine
Getting all these benefits from 1 massage is great, but they increase exponentially when achieved on the regular. Bi-weekly or monthly massage will gradually work out long-standing tensions and retrain the body and mind to respond and recover from life’s many stresses naturally. Zeel makes it easy with our Massage Membership. You’ll get up to 33% off regular rates and plenty more perks. It’s the easiest and most affordable way to prioritize your wellness.
Margo Carroll is a marketing strategist and email funnel copywriter for online business owners. She has worked with many massage therapists and has been featured in Massage magazine, the Massage Business Blueprint and MindBodyGreen. Learn more about Margo at margocaroll.com and on LinkedIn.