When I’m feeling stressed and run down, there’s nothing like a massage to work through the pent up tension. A few minutes into the massage, I start to take deep, satisfying breaths, yawn and fight off an urge to nap.
It dawns on me that I have been breathing shallow bits of air for days. As my neck muscles loosen and shoulders drop, I realize how tightly I have been holding my body. By the time the massage is over, I feel at peace and have my busy life more in perspective.
I don’t know if I need outside scientific evidence that something biologically therapeutic just happened.
For those who appreciate knowing more, researchers at Emory University and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles recently conducted a study of healthy volunteers who had 45 minute Swedish massages once or twice a week for five weeks in comparison to a control group who had only light touch massage.
These researchers tracked visible biological reactions and found the best results for volunteers who had a “dosage” of twice weekly Swedish massage over a five week period. Notable in these results were lowered rates of cortisol, the hormone generated when we are stuck in a sustained “fight or flight” stress mentality.
For me, the proof is in how I feel before and after a good massage compared to how I feel when I get caught up in the pressures of the world and either forget to book a massage or convince myself that it’s a luxury that I can’t afford.