No matter the type, the benefits of massage really come down to one thing: pressure, which results in a calming and slowing of the nervous system,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. And that slowing of the nervous system leads to other physiological effects, too, like a decrease in heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and changes in EEG patterns (electrical activity in your brain), says Field.
And equally great news? Those effects of massage on decreased anxiety can actually be long-lasting! Up to 18 months.
Sleep More Soundly
Have trouble sleeping or suffer from insomnia? Massage can actually help you sleep more deeply. “Sleep is all related to how much activity there is in the nervous system,” says Field. And when you get a massage, your nervous system itself actually slows down due to the pressure.
Plus, when you’re getting deeper, more restorative sleep, she says, that in turn reduces your levels of substance P (a neurotransmitter for pain), which reduces overall pain.
Your body has two different immune responses: Th1 and Th2, and they need to be in balance in order to have your immune system working optimally, says Field. “If the Th2 gets in excess of the Th1 system, then you have autoimmune problems,” she says.
But during massage, you’re slowing down stress hormones to help maintain this balance, she says. In turn, this can help make autoimmune conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes, or dermatitis, more manageable through things like decreased pain or fatigue.
Because a massage slows your nervous system, your heart rate is effectively slowed down, too. During a massage, your pressure receptors stimulate vagal activity, which stems from a nerve in your brain that leads to several different branches of the body, including the heart, says Field. So when you’re undergoing the pressure of a massage, it could decrease your heart rate, as well, which ultimately will improve your focus.
Here at Soul Body Ojai, we specialize in offering a wide range of massage therapy modalities and have therapists available every day of the week. Check out these profiles to find your perfect healing practitioner: