Doctor’s orders: Get a massage
I’ve always been a fan of a good, deep tissue massage. In fact, sometimes I think it’s the only thing that keeps my muscles from turning into one big knot.
But if you think stripping down to your birthday suit and having someone rub nearly every inch of your body is a luxury you can’t afford, I’m going to prove you wrong. (And trust me… you’ll be glad I did!)
As the latest science shows, massage therapy is more “medicine” than pleasure, after all.
That’s because a good massage does far more than relax tight and aching muscles… it can cause biological changes as well.
Researchers with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine gathered blood samples of 53 adults immediately before and after a 45-minute massage session. Twenty-nine received a deep tissue massage, and the other 24 had a light massage.
According to the study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the blood samples showed that the deep tissue massage caused significant decreases in the blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreases in a hormone that can lead to increased cortisol, and increases in a type of white blood cell (lymphocytes) that are part of your immune system.
Remember, cortisol is a stress hormone that’s released by your adrenal glands. It’s good when you need it, and in short doses, because it gives you a quick burst of energy, heightens your memory, increases your pain tolerance, and improves your immunity. But that’s when it’s in short doses.
As I told you earlier, too many people are in a constant state of stress, which means that your cortisol levels are constantly too high. And when it comes to your health, that translates to a suppressed immune system, a decrease bone density, decreased muscle tissue, high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid function, and an increase in belly fat.
Now, back to the massage study, because the researchers found even more good news when it comes to its effect on your cortisol levels.
The second group of adults——the ones who received 45 minutes of light massage——also experienced their fair share of benefits, including decreased levels of the hormone adrenal corticotrophin, which tells your adrenal glands to release cortisol, and increases in oxytocin.
Oxytocin is that famous “hormone of love,” which is known to help facilitate bonding between people. It also reduces cortisol levels.
Now there’s one study I wouldn’t mind signing up for!
With benefits like reducing high blood pressure, improving mood, and boosting your immune system, the question isn’t, can you afford to get a massage… it’s can you afford not to?