Massage has come a long way from the days when you had to go to a health club to find one and pay a ton of money to get one. Nowadays many of us routinely get massaged at massage clinics or other places dedicated to high quality massages. Massage can be very useful for those of us dealing with sore and tired muscles and/or sports injuries.
Massage has also been found to help with anxiety, stress, and depression. When you are being massaged, your body will release a lot of helpful and natural chemicals that help with both your health and mood. For example, our levels of dopamine and serotonin increase and our amounts of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline will typically go down. A massage should also lower a noradrenaline levels and another stress hormone called adrenocorticotrophic hormone, or ACTH. So in other words, there is a lot going on under the skin, both literally and figuratively, when we can a massage, and there is actual physiological changes occurring that help explain why and how massage can make us feel better.
According to a website called StressHelp, researcher Tiffany Fields from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine studied how massage can help with anxiety and depression. In the study, the data found that massage led to significant reductions in anxiety and depression, but not in a control group who did not experience massage. As a side bonus, sleep patterns of the massaged group improved—they slept more soundly and for longer periods. The massage group was found to have lower levels of cortisol in their saliva, and people who were depressed and in the massage group were also found to have lower amounts of cortisol and noradrenaline in their urine.
Additional studies have backed up what Fields discovered in her research. For example, adults who had chronic anxiety issues who did not improve from anti-anxiety medication were found to improve after having a series of massages. Regular massage also seems to help people suffering from depression feel and cope better, and improve overall quality of life.