Massage is a well-known solution to ease away stress. It has a profound psychological effect. It connects with a biological need we all have to receive human touch.
Massage also has a profound physiological benefit. It promotes profound relaxation. The only way to be more relaxed is to take a soporific drug. Even a hot bath and listening to Johann Pachelbel’s Chiacona in D major is not as relaxing.
Massage, then, works both psychologically and physiologically. Yet most people who receive a massage are a little mystified by why it works as well as it does. They may just say something like, “Well, it feels good so it makes me feel good.”
A Massage Is Not Just A Backrub
A massage is not about having someone rub their hands over you. Nor is it about kneading a muscle until it relaxes. Instead, it is a structured therapeutic approach to improving well-being. It is a healing system. There are many different schools of massage. Each massage school has its own theory of how to massage someone for optimal benefits. Someone who becomes a certified massage therapist has learned a specific discipline. Popular massage schools include Reiki, Shiatsu, Swedish, or sports massage.
5 Benefits of Massage
- Massage can reduce anxiety. According to massage theory the body stores emotions. When someone gets a massage, they release those emotions. Thus, psychology and physiology are linked. When someone is anxious, they have higher blood pressure and a faster heart rate. After a massage, blood pressure drops and the heart rate slows. When adrenalin stops rushing into the bloodstream, the fight or flight response fades away. With many massage sessions, a patient will drop “trait anxiety.” Their original source of fear will actually go away.
- Massage can improve mood. There are many mood disorders that affect people. People may be either depressed or manic. They can also fluctuate between both extremes, known as bipolar disorder. Usually, they have a low level of serotonin released into their bloodstream. Massage stimulates the secretion of the hormone serotonin and elevates moods. Sometimes the mood disorder is a result of pain, often chronic pain. This occurs, for example, when someone has fibromyalgia. Massage stimulates pain-blocking neurotransmitters in the brain. The result is a dissipation of the pain and a corresponding improvement in mood.
- Massage can teach people to relax. Often people experience chronic muscular tension. They are in a constant state of “high alert” to combat any emergency. Often people brought up in alcoholic homes have this state of perpetual hyperarousal. Their nervous system is ready to handle unexpected danger. As a result of this tension, they may be nervous, high-strung, or insomniac. Massage calms a person down in many ways. It loosens tight muscles. The environment too is calm and soothing. Music, aromatherapy candles, and a caring touch dissipate unconscious fear and hyperarousal.
- Massage can be energizing. Because massage dissipates negative emotions and relaxes muscles, it rebalances energy. After a massage, people feel a surge of energy and mental clarity. Energy is no longer wasted keeping blood pressure high or muscles tight.
- Massage can improve performance. Massage is useful for students people because it increases mental alertness. It is great for athletes because it makes their muscles more functional. And it is superb for business people who can’t seem to relax and unwind. Massage reboots a person’s nervous system. It makes people perform better in school, sports, business, and life.
Massage at Home
Despite the plethora of benefits, many people don’t receive regular massages. The main reason for this reluctance is because it can be expensive. On average, a massage can cost $60 an hour. Fortunately, partners can learn to massage each other at home.
When doing it at home, the most important equipment you will need is a good table.
If you are doing massage at home, you and your partner should take lessons. Classes or DVDs teach you the basic elements of a particular massage style. It takes a long time to learn how to be a massage therapist. But you can learn basic techniques in a few months.