If you’re no stranger to a good massage session then you should be familiar with that post-massage high, giddiness or overall mood improvement. You go in for physical relaxation and end up getting hit with a sudden mood boost? Well, the simple explanation for why that happens is that massage therapy is actually great for stimulating neurotransmitters that bring out favorable moods.
To take that explanation a little further, massage helps takes our minds off the daily stress and survival instinct fight or flight responses and moves us into our more relaxed mood by reducing our levels of adrenaline which increases our blood pressure, heart rate and helps the body push more blood out to the muscles. It’s good when you’re actually in an emergency but we often find minor daily stressors triggering this response and quickly wearing us out not just physically but mentally as well. By experiencing a long massage session you can easily find your body reducing adrenaline levels and reaching a more relaxed mindset that will allow you to be calm, collected and thankful for the wonderful work your therapist is bringing you.
But on the other end of that, massage also can stimulate different neurotransmitters that also increase your mood. Endorphins have been shown to be released during deep tissue massage. Endorphins are a natural pain reliever that your body releases that will also help promote a more stable mood and of course a general satisfied high as endorphins are actually the hormone associated with completing a difficult or painful task. So even if you’re stressed out of your mind and didn’t get anything done, a good deep tissue massage can stimulate endorphins and help you handle the stressful situation and gain some feeling of accomplishment for the day.
While the above endorphins are associated most strongly with deep tissue massage, dopamine and serotonin are the main mood boosters you feel after almost any kind of massage. Together these chemicals will help stabilize your mood but also bring it up to giddiness or joy. But beyond being general happiness hormones, dopamine and serotonin are also essential for managing appetite and digestion and are important in reducing the risk of:
- Low Motivation
- Low Energy
- Inability to Focus
In fact, massages have been demonstrated to boost dopamine and serotonin levels by 30% in blood tests taken before and after receiving massage therapy.
One final hormone that helps you feel happy and pleasant after a massage is oxytocin. Oxytocin is often nicknamed the “Cuddle Hormone” or “Love Hormone” and helps create trust and strong relationships with people and it’s stimulated by touch. So while not exclusively a hormone limited to just receiving a massage, and it can be found easily in a quick hug, the focus and attention that you receive for your sessions does help put a steady supply of the stuff into your system full of the cuddle bug. It’s also worth noting that this does work both ways as the person performing the massage will mutually be enjoying the reward of touching meaning that couples massages are great for building strong relationships.
So next time you’re feeling really worn out and running low on joy, try booking yourself a session and see the benefits that you feel.