Chairs – Getting Started & Next Steps

Massage as a Stress Buster (And Why It’s NOT All in Your Mind)

We all know how a good massage can make us feel relaxed and refreshed. Is it all in our minds? Science says no. Massage can actually help decrease hormonal markers of stress, and that’s backed by evidence.

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, many of us find it hard to keep ourselves from being stressed, and we’re often left without much of a solution. Fortunately, a massage is always an option, except in cases where it’s contraindicated – for example, if we’re intoxicated.

Various studies have proven that massage decreases the body’s cortisol – the stress hormone – levels. Which is fantastic, except that this effect is short-lived. To extend the life of this benefit, you have to keep getting massages.

Not that we should find this surprising. After all, our world has become stressful, whether we like it or not. It’s just like having to shower everyday. The next day, we get dirty again, take another shower to keep us clean, and so on. You have to keep getting a massage if you want to maintain safe stress hormone levels.

This study was performed some seven years back. 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. In a particular research project, nurses were given either 25-minute massage sessions twice a week for four straight weeks, or placebo. At the end of the fourth week, those who were in the intervention group were found to have lower cortisol levels. This reinforces earlier conclusions that regular massage is required to help you maintain a low-stress state .

While it’s now clear how massage affects stress, there is no clear explanation why. 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, 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.

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