Massage is a popular form of therapy that has been used for centuries to reduce pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. But does massage actually work? Recent studies have shown that massage can be an effective way to reduce muscle pain and tension, improve blood flow, and reduce stress hormones. It can also help retrain muscle memory and reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. Massage can even benefit organs by reducing neurological pain pathways and helping expectant mothers reduce their aches and pains.
With all these potential benefits, it's no wonder that massage is becoming increasingly popular. Reducing muscle pain and tension is one of the most common reasons people seek out massage therapy. An Australian study found that a 10-minute massage after a workout could reduce pain by 30%. Another review study on massage found that levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, fell 31% after a massage, while levels of feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin increased by approximately 30%.
Massage also promotes blood flow, which may aid healing and inflammation. Massage can also help retrain muscle memory to reduce pain and stress in the body long after the session is over. Research on different forms of self-massage, including foam rolling, has found that kneading well can reduce muscle pain and improve pain symptoms, even in people with osteoarthritis. Some studies have even shown that massage can improve immune system function in people with breast cancer and leukemia, in addition to reducing physical and emotional pain. Organs can also benefit from massage, as they share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones, and nerves. A prenatal massage can help expectant mothers reduce their aches and pains, reduce the stress hormones present, and allow the mother to relax and be pampered.
While there is still much to learn about the effects of massage on the body, the evidence so far suggests that it can be an effective way to reduce muscle pain and tension, improve blood flow, reduce stress hormones, retrain muscle memory, and even benefit organs. So if you're looking for a way to relax or relieve pain, consider giving massage a try.