Have you ever thought about what is actually happening inside your body when you are receiving a massage?
Firstly, taking the time out of a busy schedule to lay down and put yourself in the hands of a massage therapist is already starting the calming process. The feeling that someone cares about you and is taking the time to care for you is a powerful factor towards feeling good about yourself.
The initial contact can have an instant calming effect on your body. The body will respond with a feeling of “this is just what my body needs”. It’s not until the muscles are being massaged that you realize how wound up, tight and sore you are. It also helps you to reconnect and become more aware of your body and what is going on so that you can recognize when your body is under stress. Signs of stress are mood changes, abdomen pain, sleep disturbances, and feeling anxious to name a few. At times when we are feeling anxious our breathing becomes shallow and tightens up the muscles. Massage can release, open up and calm the breathing. The sensory neurons in the skin responds to touch and register the pressure, heat and vibration going on during the massage in the body and send these messages to the brain which then perceives a new sense of calmness, pleasure and relaxation.
How does massage calm me?
Motor neurons are nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the muscles causing them contract and produce movement. Excitability of these nerves relates to how active and stimulated they are. The less “excited or active” they are the more relaxed the receptors of muscles, tendons, skin and joints are. Research has shown massage reduces the excitability of motor neurons which releases muscle contraction and relaxes the brain. This positive feedback mechanism happens when the brain registers relaxation in the body and then sends messages back to reduce the excitability of motor neurons.
During periods of stress the body may take a longer time than usual to recover from the effects. At this time the body needs extra help to normalize these stress levels.
When our bodies are stuck in a stress response or the body takes a longer time than usual to recover from the effects, the body needs extra help to normalize stress levels. Living on tender hooks isn’t good for anyone. Massage reduces the level of stress hormones released and stimulates certain “happy, feel good hormones”. It allows you to drift off and float into that happy place free from worry and concerns. In this state the body can start the healing process. This has a flow on effect into our daily lives and can allow us handle our daily stresses more calmly.
Our bodies are made up of a large webbing of interconnected tissues – a living matrix! So by touching one area of the body the effect can have an impact on other areas of the body too. How amazing is that!
Do yourself a favour and give your body a helping hand. Bring some calm and relaxation into your life and book in for a massage to begin the healing process.