Why do Massages Feel Good?
Massages feel good because they release “feel-good” endorphins into the body, similar to a runner’s high. They can also feel good because the brain releases oxytocin which is a natural chemical that reduces pain and can serve as an antidepressant. Massages can also feel good as a chemical response to human contact, similar to feeling good from affectionate contact from friends or family.
The Endorphin Rush
The body responds to the world around it in so many ways! Endorphins are a natural response to something good for the body. Endorphin rushes can come from thrills like roller coasters or cliff jumping, or from fat-burning exercise like running or swimming. Not only that, but endorphins are also released as a response to some forms of pain as a means to help manage it. Even eating extremely spicy food can give you an endorphin rush! Massage gives the same sensation both from the “good pain” of massaging sore muscles, but also from the increased circulation.
Knotted muscles form when there is a build-up in protein and lactic acid that can cause pain from lack of blood flow. Massaging knotted muscles helps to release that build-up and increase blood flow, providing oxygen to parts of the muscle that weren’t getting enough before. It feels great not only because the pain is triggering a release of endorphins, but also because circulation is increasing and inflammation from the knot is being released. This is why some back and shoulder massages can “hurt so good”!
The Human Element
Human contact is essential in emotional well-being. Embraces, handshakes, and even cuddling are all in their own class of endorphin sources. Interpersonal contact is proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and contribute to well-balanced health. Massage is important for both physical and mental health!
Massage Therapy and You
Massage therapy is a growing field with an increasing number of options for both the therapist and the client. Where you can choose so many kinds of massage and whether you want one at home or in a spa, it’s an exciting time to be in the world of massage!