Feeling the Magic of Touch Through Massage

 

Remember when a hug from someone altered your mood? When curling up next to a significant other, friend or pet brought you joy, peace and relaxation? At the end of stress-filled days, we find ourselves run down, exhausted, or depressed, which can lead to an increased risk of disease. 

Enter the power of touch which has been found to impart relaxation, relieve stress, release negative emotions and positively impact the physiological and immunological systems of the body. If you have found relief in a good back rub from a friend, just wait until you see what a trained massage therapist can do.

Massage used to be considered an indulgence. Today, massage has become a valued therapeutic modality soothing tired muscles, decreasing water retention, increasing circulation, decreasing stress and anxiety and modulating immune functions and disease processes. The magic of touch through massage will change your life.

The theory of massage is to remove stagnation built up in muscles, blood or lymph. Light strokes dilate capillaries, increasing blood flow to the heart. Deep stroking causes longer-lasting dilation. Pressure contracts blood vessels and relaxes them as the movement continues. Friction causes capillary permeability, which increases detoxification and creates more fluid and a healthier environment. Kneading muscles affects deeper arteries and veins increasing blood flow. Percussion is energetic movement to stimulate the nervous system. A massage will combine techniques at different pressures to achieve different results.

Massage has positive effects on the body. In one study, a massage group had an increase in lymphocytes (immunity cells), a decrease in cortisol (stress hormones) and a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines (which cause inflammation and pain in autoimmune diseases). Light massage increased oxytocin — the “feel good” hormone.

Massage changes brain function, boosts alertness and increases attention and focus. Massage stimulates left-brain and decreases right-brain activity, leading to feelings of happiness and assisting to alleviate symptoms of depression. Those who enjoy massage treatments know the feeling — like during meditation or the moment right before falling asleep. This is the time when emotional and physiological healing and rejuvenation takes place. 

Massage benefits the lymph system that runs throughout the body. It carries a clear fluid which absorbs waste products, dead cells, bacteria, viruses, fats and proteins from tissues as it circulates through the body, including carrying immune cells when necessary. If you sit for lengthy periods of time and do not stretch or move, the lymph in your body becomes stagnant and blocked. This can cause swelling and can be painful and unhealthy. Light strokes of massage assist the lymph to move. 

Massage modulates our response to stress, increasing dopamine and serotonin, hormones that improve mood and reduce the effects of stress. So whenever you can, reach out and touch your child, your pet, your significant other and your massage therapist! Try it, and experience the magic.

 

 

James Glassford is a massage therapist with Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa who facilitates integration, harmony and balance in the body, mind, heart and spirit. He studied at the McKinnon Body Therapy Center in Oakland and is a CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist, #69078.