It counteracts all that sitting you do
“Most individuals are dealing with some kind of postural stress,” says Aaron Tanason, registered massage therapist and kinesiologist. “More often than not [that stress] tends to manifest in the shoulders and neck.” More advanced forms of postural stress “show up as pain or weakness in the low back and gluteals caused by prolonged periods of sitting.” Massage can counteract the imbalance caused from sitting.
In a review of research on the topic, it was determined that massage therapy lowers cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 31 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin, one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms, increases. In the review, serotonin grew by an average of 28 percent after massage therapy. So by lowering cortisol, you boost your ability to fend off pain. Research found that a single session of massage therapy has an immediate effect on perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches.
It boosts immunity
Studies of women with breast cancer found that when cortisol levels are up, natural killer (NK) cells are down. Natural killer cells are the front line of the immune system. They kill cancer cells, viral cells and bacterial cells, so you definitely want them up. In one study, for instance, women with stages 1 and 2 breast cancer were given 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks. At the end of the study, the women had lower depression and hostility levels and increased urinary levels of serotonin, dopamine, NK cells and lymphocytes—all of which suggested their immune systems were stronger. Another study found that massage boosts patients' white blood cell count (which plays a large role in defending the body from disease).
Treat Your Body Well and Get a Massage This Week