The Scientific Link Between Massage and Stress
We all know how a good massage can make us feel relaxed and refreshed. Is it all in our minds? According to science, 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. Every now and then, we read or hear about news confirming the big role stress plays in the development of various diseases and medical conditions, from cancer to obesity and everything else. Still, it always seems so difficult to avoid stress, and we’re usually left with hardly any solution. Fortunately, a massage is always an option, except in cases where it’s contraindicated – for example, if we’re intoxicated.
Studies have shown that massage minimizes cortisol (aka stress hormone) levels , the infamous stress hormone. And that’s good news, except that this effect isn’t really going to last that long. To maintain the benefit, you have to maintain the massages.
Not that this is surprising. After all, stress has become but an ordinary part of life. It’s just like having to take a shower each and everyday. The next day, we get dirty again, take another shower to keep us clean, 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 done about seven years ago. Since then, a lot of other studies were done and proved that massage does has this stress reduction effect, although temporary. These latter studies also specifically pointed to the benefits of massage if done on a regular basis. In a specific research project involving nurses as subjects, either 25-minute, twice-a-week massages or placebo were given over the course of four consecutive weeks. At the end of the fourth week, lower cortisol levels were found in the subjects who belonged to the intervention group. This further strengthens earlier conclusions that regular massage can help you maintain a low-stress state.
Though we can all see that massage can help reduce stress, why it creates that effect is still unknown. Some people think “massage” is just excuse for someone who wants to lie still and do nothing for an hour or so. True or not, it doesn’t 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, massage can also be effective in several other ways, knowing that different methods are used to produce different effects, from pain management to plain and simple reduction. In any case, it’s always best to choose a trained staff to give you a massage.