Therapeutic massage has a powerful effect on the nervous system, helping stimulate the release of natural hormones that not only provide a positive benefit to the body, but also help reduce unwanted chemicals.
The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves, along with millions of nerve endings. This system works in conjunction with the Endocrine system to regulate all functions of the body, releasing certain hormones and chemicals to keep the body in balance.
Research has shown that massage triggers the nervous system to release hormones that help us feel better, calm down and fight disease. Let's look at some of the hormones therapeutic massage helps release.
Dopamine. High levels of this hormone bring moods such as inspiration, joy and enthusiasm while lower levels can result in clumsiness, inability to focus and lack of motor control. Massage increases dopamine levels, which create that good feeling most people have after receiving a massage.
Serotonin. This hormone has a calming effect on people, reducing irritability and certain cravings. A low serotonin level is typical in people with depression and eating or other compulsive disorders. Increased serotonin leads to the calm feeling people have after a massage.
Endorphins. These help reduce pain in the body and give the mind an overall sense of wellbeing. Massage helps increase the available levels of these natural chemicals to help promote healing and speed recovery of other injuries.
Cortisol. A stress hormone, cortisol can increase stress-related symptoms and illnesses such as sleep deprivation and anxiety. Massage can lower these levels, helping return to body to a balanced state. That's one of the main reasons massages can benefit those that suffer from anxiety and depression.
There are many more benefits to massage, such as helping relieve muscle tightness or increasing blood flow to parts of the body. The nervous system benefits are some of the best, though, that show the full power of massage.