The Science Behind Massages & Relaxation

Sep 16th, 2022

The Science Behind Massages & Relaxation

Have you ever wondered why you're not only feeling physically better, but mentally relaxed after a massage? ⁠

Well, we feel deep relaxation and calm because massage prompts the release of endorphins which are the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of wellbeing.⁠ Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are also reduced. Studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones impair the immune system.⁠

Some of the physical benefits of massage include:⁠

  • ⁠reduced muscle tension⁠
  • improved circulation⁠
  • stimulation of the lymphatic system⁠
  • reduction of stress hormones⁠
  • relaxation⁠
  • increased joint mobility and flexibility⁠
  • improved skin tone⁠
  • improved recovery of soft tissue injuries⁠
  • heightened mental alertness⁠
  • reduced anxiety and depression⁠

Releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good and diminish pain.

Your skin’s nerve cells send signals to the brain as soon as they feel the pressure from a massage which releases endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin (feel-good chemicals). These chemicals are known to improve your mood and give you a natural "high". As a result, stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline begin to decrease and the overall effect is one of relaxation. Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are also reduced which is important as studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones can impair the immune system.⁠

If you have real aches or pains, the morphine-like effect from the endorphins works by blocking pain signals from the brain causing a decrease in discomfort.

Decreases post-activity muscle pain and improves muscle recovery duration.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be very painful for some people after a rigorous workout. Incorporating a massage in your recovery process will actually help by decreasing the inflammation caused by exercise and increasing the occurrence of cell repair.

Improves mental function.

Do you have a long week at work or school? Schedule a massage! Researchers have found that just a 15-minute massage can help you to think more clearly and improve your alertness.

Helps to boost your immunity.

This is due in part to your lymphatic system being stimulated which is responsible for moving blood throughout your body, and flushing out toxins. When stimulated through massage, toxins are encouraged to move through our natural cleansing systems (lymphatic systems) which help ward off infection (boost your immune system) and improve your general health. You not only feel healthier, but you are healthier.

To learn more about our Guelph massage therapy services at the Health and Performance Centre, call HPC at 519-767-5011 or book an appointment.