It has long been accepted that certain activities such as reading, brain games, learning new skills, etc. all can help diminish and even ward off the onset of dementia. There is increasing evidence that massage can stimulate brain function, reduce depression, and combat stress levels in all of us, not the just the aging population.
An article in Psychology Today examines the power of touch in our society and its direct affects on the brain. Oxytocin levels go up, heart rate drops, our sense of trust and confidence increase with human touch. All of these positive outcomes are occurring in the brain.
Recognizing the powerful effects of massage, many hospitals are offering massage therapy to patients. The sense of well-being people feel after a massage is a driving reason why some hospitals offer it to anxious patients prior to surgery and cancer patients going through chemo.
The Touch Research Institute cites multiple studies where massage has resulted in documented improved conditions for people with Anorexia, anxiety, blood pressure depression, fatigue, confusion, migraines, and sleep disturbances.
How does massage actually work all these wonders in our brains and bodies? A deep tissue massage stimulates receptors to different areas in the brain. It requires the massage therapist to go deeper into the layers of muscle 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 all the results from these studies mean for the common person? We all need touch for good health, and good touch from a trained, experienced professional massage therapist can help you achieve brain functions for optimum health. Be good to yourself and make regular massage an important priority in your health care regimen.