by Jean Pfefferkorn
The holiday season is a time of stress for many, so a massage could be a great gift for someone or even for yourself. Getting a massage to bring relief to minor aches and pains or soothe jangled nerves is an ages-old folk tradition.
Sources as early as Esther in the Old Testament, Hippocrates, and the ancient Chinese Huang-di Neijing extolled the virtues of massage. More recently, alternative remedies for headaches or aching backs have included massage. Folk wisdom has often been proven therapeutic, using medical research techniques. Recent neuroscience research has found that massage causes a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which is related to contentment. Recipients of a regular massage also self-report health effects such as improved sleep patterns, along with a decrease in depression and anxiety and in the symptoms caused by such negative mental patterns. Most massage recipients report a feeling of physical well-being, in addition to improved mood.
Massage therapist Mary K. Rose of Longmont, Colorado reports that, “. . . patterns of tension are released in overworked muscles, fascia is loosened in areas of strain, and lymph is encouraged in its circulation. …the complex of effects on the neurochemical system of the body, as touch receptors carry messages to the brain for interpretation, influence brain wave patterns and a myriad of hormonal responses.” But don’t take their word for it….give it a try!