It’s no secret that therapeutic massage makes you feel wonderful. This is because therapeutic massage causes your brain to release endogenous opiates called endorphins or the “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins have a “morphine-like” quality that is described as causing exhilaration and relaxation and thus it often relieves pain, anxiety, and stress that you may be experiencing.
Your massage therapist uses specialized techniques called effleurage to stimulate blood and lymphatic fluid circulation. The increase in circulation brings blood with oxygen and vital nutrients to the area that will help to heal and restore it and also removes toxic wastes that have accumulated.
When your blood circulation is improved, the amount of disease fighting white blood cells and natural killer T cells is also improved. Since massage also counteracts the effects of stress (which lowers your immune system function) it is a double boost!
Massage therapy will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and lower elevated blood pressure, slow your heart rate and your respiration into a harmonious and natural rhythm. (1)
We all experience micro-trauma’s to our muscles everyday whether it’s from sitting at the computer too long, sleeping in a “funny” position, or trying to open the door with an arm load of groceries. Our surrounding muscles act to protect these trauma’s by tensing up so that the injured part is “guarded”. This causes aches, pains, and “knots” to develop. Your massage therapist detects these problem areas and uses a variety of special techniques to help relax the muscles and allow proper circulation for healing.
Massage therapy has been demonstrated to increase the amount of serotonin in your body which modulates sleep and mood among many other functions (2). With the addition of an increase in endorphins making you feel good and in a relaxed mood, many patients with insomnia report to us that they have a restful night sleep after a massage session with one of our therapists.
We all experience our fair share of stress these days. Stress is actually a “fight-or-flight” response that prepares our body to take emergency evasive action or emergency offensive action. This response was vital to our ancestors if they were being threatened by a predator, but nowadays, sitting in a cubicle or the carpool lane – there is no flight and there is no fight – there is just our bodies “coping” with it. We do this by storing all this tension and extra energy in our muscles.
Massage therapy can actually decrease the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and increase serotonin (sleep modulator) thus significantly counteracting the effects of stress (2). As mentioned above, massage will lower your heart rate back to normal. It will also stimulate the systems that were shut down to conserve energy such as your immune system, reproductive system and digestion. Your muscles relax and your stress levels have been lowered significantly.
(1) Aourell, Moa; Skoog, Martina; Carleson, J. “EFFECTS OF SWEDISH MASSAGE ON BLOOD PRESSURE” Complimentary Therapies in Clinical PracticeVolume 11, Issue 4, November 2005, Pages 242-246
(2) Field, Tiffany; Hernandez-Reif, Maria; Diego, Miguel; Schanberg, Saul; Kuhn, Cynthia. “CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY” International Journal of Neuroscience 115.10 (2005). 29 Jul. 2008
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.