Can Massage Help You Manage Stress?
Recently, we wrote about stress as a probable cause of TMJ syndrome and, because massage therapy is effective in addressing various ways stress can affect the body, we suggested that massage can benefit those who suffer from TMJ. Great. But maybe it would be wise to explore the reasons why massage is considered to be a remedy for so many overstressed folks in the first place.
Stress: You’re Soaking In It
It almost goes without saying that stress is everywhere in today’s fast-paced world, and that it can negatively impact anyone’s health and well-being. Massage therapy has been shown to be a means by which stress can be significantly reduced on both physical and psychological levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.”
On a primary level, massage therapy is relaxing. One of the byproducts of excessive stress is a tightening of the muscles and an overall feeling of tension. The relaxing sensation of massage or massage chair experience on sore, tense muscles is therefore hugely positive. And “feeling good” is nothing to sneeze at.
Reducing the “Bad” Hormone
On a more subtle level, massage therapy has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. When the body is tense and under stress, it produces unhealthy levels of cortisol, contributing to weight gain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and headaches. By reducing cortisol levels, massage helps the body enter into a recovery mode. In controlled studies, measurements of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels were all lower after just a 10 to 15-minute chair massage.
While Boosting the Good Ones
While reducing one potentially harmful hormone, massage has also been shown to release endorphins (pain-killing hormones), that boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the body.
Dopamine is a chemical naturally produced by the body that helps to keep the central nervous system functioning smoothly. Serotonin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is involved in the function of several different organ systems in the body. Dopamine and serotonin assist the body in many ways—both physically and emotionally. They promote healing, pain management, help to calm the nerves, and even feelings of euphoria. In short, dopamine and serotonin help us feel good.
The kneading and pressure on the muscles provided through massage therapy encourages the release of dopamine and thereby helps the body to manage stress better. Wow!
More Than Indulgence
So put aside any ideas that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. On the contrary, massage is a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being. Not only can massage therapy help with short-term stress relief, but regular massage sessions over a prolonged period of time can boost energy levels, reduce pain, and stimulate individuals on physical as well as emotional levels.
If you find chronic stress is manifesting itself through physical pain or debilitating depression, regular massage therapy treatments including those delivered by a premium massage chair can help your body heal itself naturally and give your mind the relief it needs from your daily cares and worries.
“Never Had a Massage? What You Should Know.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Dec. 2015, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743.
“Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress | American Massage Therapy Association.” – American Massage Therapy Association, Oct. 2006, www.amtamassage.org/statement2.html.
“7 Benefits of Massage Therapy.” Body and Mind Therapeutic Massage, 12 Oct. 2016, www.body-mindmassage.com/7-benefits-of-massage-therapy/.
“Anti-Stress Health Benefits of Massage Therapy | Earthlite Blog.” Massage Tables Blog, 7 Oct. 2010, www.earthlite.com/blog/anti-stress-health-benefits-of-massage-therapy/.