It is widely known that activities like reading, brain games and learning new skills can diminish and stave off the onset of dementia. Increasing evidence shows that massage can stimulate brain function, reduce depression and combat stress levels in everyone, not the just the aged.
A Psychology Today article examines the power of touch in our society and how it directly affects the brain. Oxytocin levels go up, heart rate drops, our sense of trust and confidence increase with human touch. All these positive outcomes occur in the brain.
Recognizing the powerful effects of massage, many hospitals now offer massage therapy to patients. The well being sensed by those after a massage explains why some hospitals offer it to anxious pre-surgery patients and cancer patients undergoing chemo.
The Touch Research Institute cites multiple studies where massage has resulted in documented improvement for people with anorexia, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, confusion, migraines and sleep disturbances.
How does massage work such wonders in the human brain and body?
In actuality, a deep tissue massage stimulates receptors to different areas in the brain. The competent, highly skilled masseuse must go deeper into the muscle layers and soft tissue where the stronger connections to the brain are found. When the brain receives these signals from the muscles, neurotransmitters and proteins are released to benefit the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.
Increased levels of cortisol & stress neurotransmitters and lowered levels of serotonin and dopamine all equal more stress. Massage not only has the opposite effects on cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine levels, but it decreases frontal right lobe activity in the brain and increases activity in the left.
What do these studies mean for the average person?
All human beings need touch for optimal health. Moreover, healing touch from a trained, experienced professional massage therapist can help you achieve brain functions for optimum health. Now is the time to treat yourself well by prioritize regular massage in your life. Why not start scheduling it into your health care regimen?