Getting To The Point – Massages

The Scientific Link Between Massage and Stress

We all know how relaxing and uplifting a good massage can be. Is it all in our minds? Science says no. Massage can actually help bring down hormonal markers of stress in the body ,and there’s proof to that.

Of course, we’re also aware of the importance of stress management. Everyday, we hear news about new studies showing that stress can make us more vulnerable to all kinds of health issues, from obesity to cancer. Still, it always seems so difficult to avoid stress, and we’re usually left with hardly any solution. Fortunately, we can always rely on a nice massage, except when it’s contraindicated (for instance, when we’re inebriated).

Various studies have proven that massage decreases the body’s cortisol – the stress hormone – levels. And that’s good news, except that this effect isn’t really going to last that long. To keep getting the benefit, you have to keep getting the massages.

Not that this is surprising. After all, our world has become stressful, whether we like it or not. It’s just like having to shower everyday. The following day, we go out into the big grimy world again and take another shower, and so on. If you want to keep your stress hormones at a safe level, you have to keep getting a massage.

This study was conducted around seven years ago. Since then, many other studies have been performed, proving that massage indeed has this positive effect on stress levels, although short-lived. These latter studies also specifically pointed to the benefits of massage if done on a regular basis. As part of a particular research project, nurses were given either massage (25 minutes, 2x a week) or placebo for four weeks straight. At the end of the fourth week, lower cortisol levels were found in the subjects who belonged to the intervention group. This strengthens earlier findings that it is possible to remain in a low-stress state with regular massage.

While the positive effects of massage on stress are now established, the reasons are still unknown. Some people think “massage” is just excuse for someone who wants to lie still and do nothing for an hour or so. But whether that’s true or not, it won’t even matter. As long as it does what it does, then we’re having it.

Finally, there’s the other perception that massage is all about the human touch. And this could be true in a way, considering there’s a good amount of research showing the health benefits of the human touch. On the other hand, it is logical to assume that massage also works in other ways, noting that unique methods are used to provide unique effects, such as pain reduction in cancer patients and everyday stress relief. In any case, it’s always best to choose a trained staff to give you a massage.

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