What Happens To The Brain After A Massage?
Massage therapy, and different forms of therapeutic touch, have several mood-enhancing benefits thanks to the release of neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain. The reduction of pain, anxiety, and depression and the increase in joy, focus, and relaxation can be attributed to the production and release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
Dopamine is a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus that influences our fine motor skills, intuition, inspiration, joy, and enthusiasm. Those that experience a lack of dopamine will often appear clumsy, be easily distracted, and have poor focus. Massage increases dopamine by lowering Cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
People with Fibromyalgia generally have low dopamine levels which is why getting a weekly massage can help them both with their physical pain as well as the mental side effects they may be dealing with, like lack of focus and joy.
Like dopamine, serotonin is also a neurohormone that can be increased by lowering Cortisol levels. Serotonin helps regulate our emotions and decrease irritability and cravings. Having lower serotonin levels can lead to difficulty sleeping, depression, and anxiety. During a massage our serotonin levels rise and our mind and body relax. This can really help those suffering from depression, anxiety, poor sleep hygiene, and chronic pain.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland and are associated with pain reduction and feelings of euphoria. Endorphins are created during trigger point therapy or deep tissue massages, which is often why you may experience the “hurts so good” feeling during them. One of the main functions of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Through the process of myofascial release, endorphins are created which reduces a patient’s pain levels after a massage. The transmission of that pain to your pain is cut off. After a massage, not only are you feeling less pain, but you can often feel something equivalent to a high based on the feelings of euphoria, also associated with endorphin production.
What Are Some Of The Physical Benefits Of Massage?
Massage therapy can have a positive impact on your sleep! A massage creates serotonin in the body which is linked to the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that is responsible for regulating your sleep cycle. Additionally, a massage can help your body physically loosen up and unwind. If you find that you have a hard time falling asleep from stress keeping you up or even chronic pain, a massage can help lessen those symptoms!
Increases Range of Motion
For those experiencing limited range of motion due to stiffness, tightness, or pain, massage therapy is a great tool to help get that range of motion and flexibility back. Massage physically works the knots and tightness out of your muscles which helps reduce the strain on your joints allowing you to regain that range of motion. Additionally, if you’re an athlete suffering from overuse, massage therapy is a great way to help ease pain, promote faster recovery time, and prevent you from suffering from limited mobility due to stiffness.
Many people think of massages as a luxury spa service that should only be splurged on occasionally, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Massage therapy is a common and important component in managing symptoms for those that suffer from chronic pain. Getting massaged regularly and incorporating at-home massage techniques into your daily routine is a great way to not only manage the physical side effects of a chronic condition but the mental and emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Why Is Massage Therapy Good For Your Mental Health?
As we mentioned earlier, massage therapy elicits the production of a variety of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are associated with joy, enthusiasm, improved focus, as well as, lessened irritability. Things like anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD are caused or exacerbated by low serotonin or dopamine levels. While massage therapy is not a cure, regular massage can be helpful in managing symptoms thanks to the additional production of these chemicals that those who suffer from these conditions are deficient in.
Additionally, massage helps to reduce the physical tension being held in your body. As the pressure from the massage physically loosens the tightness in your body, your mind responds in kind. Less physical stress being held in your body helps reduce the emotional stress you are experiencing. Obviously, a massage can’t fix external causes of stress, but it can help the amount and intensity of stress that you feel and help promote relaxation.
Where Can I Find Massage Therapy Treatments Near Me?
At Advanced Kinetics Physical Therapy we offer massage therapy services to help improve the health of your mind and body! Massage is a great treatment to try whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, suffering from anxiety and depression, are looking to recover from an injury, or just need some quiet time to relax! We offer these services at our locations in Falls Church and McLean, Virginia. If you’re interested in learning more about how our physical therapists can help you, please get in touch with us!