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The Science Behind Massage Therapy For Stress Relief

In this blog from Beautiful You, MD, we explain the science behind massage therapy and stress relief.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage is becoming an increasingly popular form of treatment for a variety of medical problems and situations. If you have never had a massage before, you may like to learn about all the benefits it provides. Some people may think of massage as a form of self-care that is only used for spa days, but it is often used to reduce stress and alleviate pain.

Massage therapy is a form of integrative medicine that involves the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. This includes muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and skin. The massage therapist will knead and rub these tissues with varying amounts of pressure and movement. Massage therapy is often offered in medical centers alongside traditional treatments in order to provide relief from a range of medical conditions.

The Benefits Of Massage Therapy

  • Massage offers countless physical benefits. It can increase blood flow, reduce muscle stiffness, reduce joint inflammation, improve sleep quality, facilitate faster recovery after physical activity, improve flexibility, decrease pain and soreness, and even strengthen the immune system.

  • Additionally, massage has been proven to have many mental health benefits. People who get massages regularly report feeling less anxious, more relaxed, and in a better mood. Stress and anxiety levels usually drop, and energy is often increased. All in all, people generally feel a greater sense of wellbeing after getting a massage.

  • Massage has been known to help with a variety of ailments, such as anxiety, depression, digestive issues, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, nerve pain, post-operative care, scar tissue, soft tissue strains and injuries, sports injuries, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Massage Therapy’s Impact On Muscle Tension And The Body

Massage therapy can have a positive impact on blood and lymph circulation. This is due to the physical manipulation of the soft tissue and the release of endorphins, which make the body relax. Improved circulation helps to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscle cells, making them more effective and reducing swelling and inflammation in the soft tissues as toxins and fluids are drained away.

Massage therapy can also be beneficial for relieving muscle spasms or contractions, as applying pressure to the skin helps to loosen tendons, muscles, and ligaments, restoring balance to both the superficial and deep layers of tissue. Furthermore, massage may promote better nerve functioning, helping them to send signals to the brain and get the nourishment they need. Additionally, the organs may benefit from massage as they are connected to the nerves, muscles, and bones through a neurological pathway.

During a massage, two effects are increased blood flow to restricted muscles and improved circulation of the lymph system, which helps to fight off infection. Massages can also help to relax the muscles, which can reduce nerve compression and cause a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.

From a preventative standpoint, massage therapy can be very beneficial in helping people maintain proper posture. Relaxing the muscles and keeping joints in the right alignment can help to reduce the likelihood of musculoskeletal aches and pains. Good posture can be a great way to stay healthy.

The Symptoms Of Stress

Stress is a natural response that helps us survive, but when our fight-or-flight response is constantly on alert, it can lead to a variety of negative health symptoms. These include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, increased sweating, increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, knotted stomach, headaches, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and irritability. All of these reactions place a strain on your nervous system, making your body work harder to deliver oxygen and blood. If left untreated, stress can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to illnesses and other medical issues.

How Massage Therapy Reduces Stress

Massage can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which are hormones that can help relax the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that transmit signals from the brain to the other parts of the body. Massage can stimulate the release of hormones that make the peripheral nervous system feel more relaxed. When endorphins are released, it can reduce the amount of stress hormones in the body, making a person feel less stressed.

A massage is much more than just an enjoyable experience. It can actually reduce the amount of cortisol in your body, which is a hormone that is released when your body is under stress. Cortisol increases glucose levels in your bloodstream, improves your brain’s ability to use glucose, and suppresses any unnecessary functions that are related to a fight-or-flight response. 

When you get a one-hour massage, it can help to lower cortisol levels and release serotonin. This hormone is sometimes referred to as the “happy chemical” because it reduces feelings of depression and helps to carry messages between your body and your nerves. By reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re improving your body’s ability to cope with pain, anxiety, and sadness.

For The Highest Standard Of Care In Beauty, Choose Beautiful You MD

If you’re considering aesthetic services in Kailua Kona and the surrounding neighborhoods, look no further than Beautiful You MD. Dr. Ilena Sanchez-Anderson, MD, has a passion for aesthetics and has received extensive training from world-renowned experts in aesthetic medicine. Dr. Sanchz-Anderson attends multiple conferences around the world to bring the best and most innovative technology to Hawai’i, and has practiced medicine in Hawai’i for over 20 years. For the latest acne treatments, laser facials, microneedling, or expert guidance on Botox and dermal fillers, call Beautiful You MD today at 808-333-5705.


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