The human body is amazingly aware of change and responds via the Nervous System, which has the ability to activate millions of appropriate chemical reactions in order to establish homeostasis or balance in your body.
The Nervous System which is made up of the brain, spinal chord and the nerves and their minute nerve endings, works hand in hand with the Endocrine System which regulates all the functions of the entire body by releasing hormones, or chemicals that produce the desired physical response in our bodies in order to achieve homeostasis.
Research has shown that therapeutic massage stimulates the nervous system to produce hormones that have tremendous benefit on the entire body while at the same time reduces unwanted or out of balance levels of chemicals that can have a detrimental effect on us.
Dopamine-the happy hormone
For instance many may be aware of the biochemical substance called dopamine, which influences mood in terms of inspiration, joy and enthusiasm. Low levels of dopamine can result in clumsiness, inability to focus and a lack of motor control. Massage increases the available levels of dopamine and explains the pleasure and satisfaction experienced during and after a massage.
Serotonin-the calming hormone
Serotonin regulates mood in terms of appropriate emotions and has a calming effect, reducing irritability and a number of different cravings. A low serotonin level has been implicated in depression, eating and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Massage seems to increase the level of available serotonin, producing an overall sense of calm.
Endorphins-the body’s pain reliever
Endorphins are produced by the body to reduce pain and give an overall sense of wellbeing. Again massage increases the available levels of these natural chemicals and can promote healing, reduce swelling and speed recovery.
Cortisol-fight or flight hormone.
Cortisol is a stress hormone used to arouse the senses in the face of danger or opposition. High levels of cortisol have been linked to many stress-related symptoms and illnesses including sleep deprivation, anxiety, inflammation and aggression. Massage has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, returning the body and mind to a more balanced state. Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression, report that massage has an extremely beneficial impact on their state of wellbeing.
An Ancient Answer to Modern Illnesses
There is good reason why massage has been used for thousands of years by tribes and cultures the world over. It is because it really does promote health and wellbeing. Not only do people feel better after a massage but massage can accelerate the recovery from a number of illnesses. While massage practitioners do not claim that massage can heal every disease or problem, it could be argued that massage can be used effectively as a complimentary treatment for many modern day ills.
It is only in recent years that science has been able to understand some of the reasons why massage is so beneficial to its recipients, but the stimulation of natural chemicals in our bodies to support our overall sense of physical and mental wellbeing provides a strong case to consider remedial massage as part of your regular body maintenance programme.