Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:
- Alleviate and improve range of motion.low-back pain
- Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
- Ease medication dependence.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
- Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
- Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Lessen depression and anxiety.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
- Reduce spasms and cramping.
- Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
- Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
- Relieve migraine pain.
Oxytocin is a hormone that helps relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. Oxytocin increases pain thresholds, has anti anxiety effects, and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. In addition, it promotes growth and healing. Oxytocin affects both couple and parental bonding by supporting feelings of attachment and care-taking. It also affects pregnancy, birthing, and lactation. Massage tends to increase the levels of this neurohormone which may explain the enhancement of feelings, connectedness and intimacy during a massage.
Serotonin regulates behavior allowing us to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. It impacts emotions, subdues irritability, and regulates cravings for such things as sex and food. Low serotonin levels have been linked to sleep/wake cycle disturbances, depression, pain disorders and behavior problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It appears that massage increases the availability of serotonin.
Dopamine influences fine motor activity involving such movements as writing. It affects intuition, inspiration, joy, and enthusiasm. Low levels of dopamine have the opposite effect, resulting in clumsiness, lack of focus and poor attention span. Massage appears to increase the available levels of dopamine in the body.
Encephalin and Endorphins are produced in the body and are opiate-like compounds that moderate pain of all kinds, especially chronic pain. Massage increases the available levels of these two brain chemicals as well as other neurohormone that support satiety. Research indicates that massage increases the availability of all neurohormone affecting brain chemistry, providing the recipient of the massage with a sense of well being. Massage techniques such as trigger point therapy and acupressure block pain pathways by creating a compound that mediates pain and produces a sense of euphoria. Once the treatment starts, it usually takes approximately 15 minutes for all the benefits of enkephalins and endorphins to begin. It is believed that the effects may last up to 48