Massage therapy has long been used in traditional medicine as a component of wellness and holistic care. Today, people still consider massage therapy as an effective way to relieve the anxiety and stress brought by the modern world.
There are reasons to believe so because research provides adequate evidence how massage therapy promotes health and wellness. Here are 6 ways massage relieves anxiety and stress.
Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone” because it is released by the body during stressful situations. Cortisol regulates our sympathetic system, which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response. When cortisol is high, our blood pressure and heart rate increases. When the levels of cortisol in our body is too high, our immune function may be compromised, making us more susceptible to viral infections.
Massage therapy reduces the cortisol level in our body, making us feel more relaxed and less stressed. For example, a research study conducted in pregnant women who were experiencing depression showed that after 16 weeks of massage therapy sessions, the women had lower cortisol levels, reduced anxiety, and lower levels of depressed mood.
Serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone”, maintains our mood and regulates our feelings of happiness. When our serotonin levels are high, we tend to have more positive feelings, better appetite, and improved memory. Endorphins, on the other hand, are chemicals in our body that reduce stress and pain.
Massage therapy promotes the release of serotonin and endorphins in our body, hence inducing our body to feel better and happier. Therefore, massage therapy works two-way to relieve anxiety and stress: it decreases cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and releases serotonin (the “happy hormone”) and endorphins.
Another way by which massage mitigates anxiety and stress is by relieving muscle tension. Muscle tension occurs because of the effects of stress on our body. Because of muscle tension, muscles become tight and inelastic. This may then lead to back pain and stiff necks.
A research study showed that a 15-minute massage therapy session per week is effective in relieving muscle tightness and inelasticity, allowing muscles to release tension. The study participants, who were office employees, then reported reduction of stress and anxiety levels because of the relieved muscle tension.
Studies have found that massage therapy is an effective way to lower blood pressure and heart rate. This benefit is due to the effect of massage therapy to activate our parasympathetic response. The parasympathetic response, also known as “rest-and-digest”, is activated to regulate processes in our body that help us relax and calm down.
People with hypertension can benefit from a 10 to 15-minute session, three times a week to lower their blood pressure and heart rate.
A good sleep is an important component of a calm and sound mind. Sleep deprivation or disturbances may lead to changes in the body chemistry, which could lead to perceptions of anxiety and pain.
Massage therapy is an effective way to improve sleep quality. A research study has shown that people who received massage therapy reported improved sleep, reduced pain, less anxiety, and reduced stress.
To achieve better sleep quality, massage with acupressure therapy is recommended. This is exactly what the Bojin orthopaedic massage offers as it stimulates acupressure points in the body
Massage relieves pain by competing with pain through a process known as “gate control”. Massage therapy with enough pressure will create a signal that will distract our brain from recognizing the feeling of pain. In other words, it is similar to our brain “closing its gate” to pain. Our brain will then focus only on the relaxing and calming effect of massage therapy. Because of this, anxiety and stress are effectively reduced.
Back pain and leg pain are common complaints of people who seek massage therapy. The Moxa massage, a type of massage that incorporates the use of Bian stones, is effective in inducing this “gate control” mechanism to relieve pain, anxiety, and stress.
These are the clear ways on how massage relieves anxiety and stress. Free your body and mind from anxiety and stress through a perfect, relaxing, and calming massage therapy session.