(It’s deeper than you think!)
Massage is health care. And it’s not that massage is health care, and, oh, by the way, it also happens to feel good. No! Massage is health care BECAUSE it feels good!
Let’s take a closer look at this state we call “feeling good.”
Massaging your skin is equivalent to massaging your nervous system! Your skin and nervous system begin as one and arise from the same germ layer in the embryo: the neuroectoderm. This is why receiving massage triggers the release of those feel-good neurotransmitters into your bloodstream and throughout your whole body. Massage is literally primary health care, because it treats and soothes your nervous system which underwrites the optimal functioning of everything else in your body.
Massage gives you a time-out from your life, when you unplug from the world. You come to stillness, you’re in reaction and response to nothing, and your muscles can safely let go. Your neck relaxes, and you sink a little deeper into the table. In this stillness, your nervous system and whole body reset to their natural calm — YOUR natural calm — and everything in your body can return to its natural, quiet efficiency and effectiveness.
Total health is quiet. Your body has no need to get your attention to address or fix anything. All just works.
It is precisely because massage brings about so many specific, clinically measurable benefits for the whole body, that it feels so good. What we call “feeling good” is simply a composite state, the result of a body with all systems functioning as they were designed to do: quietly, fully and freely, and with the absence of discomfort or pain — everything working together without our having to give it a thought.
From The Magic of Touch, Newsweek magazine, April 6, 1998. (Even back then, look what we already knew!)
- Massage can stimulate nerves that carry signals from the skin and muscles to the brain, triggering changes throughout the body.
- Scientists are now finding that massage can reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, dampen harmful stress hormones, and raise mood-elevating brain chemicals such as serotonin.
- Massage stimulates the brain’s vagus nerve, causing the secretion of food absorption hormones, including insulin.
- Brain waves are altered by massage. In another study, EEG measurements showed that workers who received massage for 15 minutes twice a week had lower levels of alpha and beta waves — indicating greater alertness — than their colleagues who did relaxation exercises for the same amount of time. When both groups tackled math problems after treatment, the massage group worked faster than the relaxation group, with half as many errors.
“Feeling good” is the quiet humming of your nervous system, calm and in balance. It is your muscles and joints moving fully and freely again, you feel good in your body. You think and see more clearly, your emotions are calm. Your heart beats more efficiently; breathing relaxes and is fuller. You digest better. Your adrenals are calm, just taking care of things and not pumping out stress hormones. Your immune system is stronger, more easily takes out invading germs without your even knowing it’s taking place. You don’t miss a beat in doing your life. You’re happier for no reason. You feel good!
And when you begin to think about your next massage, your body remembers and smiles, and, just with the mere thought of it, begins to relax again.
Massage is primary health care.
And health care never felt so good!