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2019.12.19 - Why is massage so relaxing?

Why is massage so relaxing?

One of the keywords of modern human civilization is stress. Stress is a state that has been produced by busy, complicated, insecure, metropolitan life, but the antidote has not yet been developed to fight it, which is why solution has to be searched in the traditional way of life and thinking. Numerous studies have discussed stress and methods of relieving it, one of which (which is said to be the best so far) is a massage.

What is stress?

It is a state of the body in which we feel like we are constantly under pressure for putative or real reasons. Our consciousness perceives that we cannot rest, we need to stay vigilant. Noise, busy lifestyle, tight space, crowds on the street, work conditions, family crisis, and many more things can cause it. Such a condition will grind our nerves and has a damaging effect on our physical health too. It is an abnormal condition, yet a significant proportion of the people live like this nowadays. There are countless ways to relieve stress. There is no doubt that the natural environment, the connection with plants and animals, and the proximity of the waters provedto be useful in relieving stress. Good rowing, hiking in some shady valley, lying on a hillside in the grass, climbing a mountain peak and looking down to the lower peeks, riding in the woods... All of these are very good stress relievers, but - admit it - such opportunities rarely occur. So what can be done? The obvious answer is to look for opportunities that a metropolitan environment can offer. Yoga, music concert, library, spa, sports. These are already more accessible alternatives, and this is the group that includes massage.

The science of touching

Stress and the massage that solves it can be studied from a scientific point of view, or approached by the unscientific, everyday view of an everyday individual.
If we speak the language of science, we can talk about hormones, nerves, nervous conditions: among the hormones that regulate our moods, serotonin and dopamine are the most known ones, which can also be referred to as happiness hormones. They cause people to feel satisfaction and they are produced - scientifically proved - during a massage. According to a 2010 US study, massage can also temporarily block the circulation of cortisol, a hormone which is known as the stress hormone, and arginine vasopressin, which causes blood vessels to narrow and produce high blood pressure. The same research also found evidence of the fact that massage helps the production of white blood cells, which protect the body from infections and pathogens.

Massage also has a significant pain-relieving effect. At the University of Miami, there is a separate touch research institute. It has been shown here that the signal of pressure sensors reaches the brain faster than pain signals thus pain can be stimulated this way. Maybe that's why we touch and massage the body parts where we feel pain?

Another scientific fact to the effects of massage: the lymphatic system in our body does not have a pump like the vascular system. The blood flowing in our veins is circulated by our hearts, but the lymphatic circulation only works when we are moving, more precisely our muscles are moving ...or when we are having a massage. Thus massage improves metabolism, vitalizes tissues and helps in removing waste.

Back to childhood!

If we take a look at the effects of massage and touch from the perspective of the human soul, it is not necessary to create laboratory conditions to understand its mechanism of action. We are social beings - just as much as individuals. One of the sources of stress in life is that we have lost contact with other people, with the community. We have to make decisions on our own, we have to fight every step of adult life, and our attention and awareness must not rest. This is the opposite of a child’s state, especially the babies’ who live in close physical connection firstly with their moms, but if they can, they touch anyone. The touching of children is sometimes the only way for many older people to touch another human, and without their sincere openness, many older people would live without contact for decades. 
It would not be fortunate to go back to the level of a flock, renouncing the burdens of freedom, but sometimes it is good if things just happen by themselves, if someone else is watching out for us and no effort is needed. During a massage, we can experience this: total passivity, balance, all our muscles relax, inactive, our eyes closed, we are in good hands, and that's just how things happen to us.