Powerful, intimate, and sensual – you’ll be hard pressed to find a single person who doesn’t enjoy a good massage. Whether from a loved one, at a day spa, or in a clinical environment – the health benefits of a massage aren’t just significant: they’re astounding. Decades ago, stress was actually considered a good thing, believe it or not. Stress and all its accompanying health problems – such as heart disease and stroke – were considered as natural consequences from a hard-working life. Today we know better, and stress may be the number one sickness of our generation; being the underlying cause of the most common causes of death.
A therapeutic massage helps to manage stress by targeting the three core symptoms of a stressful physiology: psychological stress, physical stress, and disequilibrium within the body.
Psychological stress is what we generally think of when we think “stress”, and can be as benign as a bad day, or as severe as anxiety and depression, which can keep us from enjoying life at large. What often goes overlooked is that small issues with stress can very quickly and very dramatically become serious ones if not taken care of.
A well-executed massage starts by managing the brain’s biochemical indicators of stress: namely your hormone levels and your brain wave patterns. Even a massage session as short as 15 minutes has been shown to dramatically decrease cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine levels, which are all linked tightly to stress, anxiety, and depression.
At the same time, massage regimens have demonstrated heightened serotonin levels, the hormone that blocks pain receptors and improves feelings of wellness and comfort. The lack of this same hormone, mind you, is a primary indicator of clinical depression – so you can imagine that it’s an important hormone in your body to produce.
On the physical side of stress, we often conflate stress with pain. It’s not incorrect, but it’s not entirely a complete connection either. Pain can be physically caused, but it can also be caused by your body physically reacting to a problem in the mind.
Fortunately for you, massage therapy treats both. And while we understand the physical benefits of working out knots in your back, or stiffness in your joints – your brain stands to benefit more than anything from a good massage.
Serotonin, as we stated, helps block pain receptors, producing a natural, non-invasive, and non-toxic painkiller. Massage therapy also sharply reduces aldosterone levels, which are stress-caused and cause heightened blood pressure. Stress is the slow killer of our generation, and aldosterone plays a big role in hastening poor health and comorbid health issues down the road.
Yet more than anything, what massage therapy provides is homeostasis – the ability of your body and brain to work effectively in harmony. There’s few experiences in life that can provide a chemical benefit for your brain, an emotionally relaxing experience for your mind, and proven benefits for managing pain and injury.
Massage therapy provides all that in one stimulating and enjoyable experience. So don’t stress about stress anymore – just get a hand (or two) and let the worry slip away.
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