Many people tout the benefits of massage as a stress-relieving technique. But little is known about what actually happens in the body chemically during and just after a massage. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles looked into just that, and their results, published in the September issue of the Journal of Alternative and Contemporary Medicine, suggest that at least some types of massage can have a powerful effect on the immune system.
The 53 healthy study participants each signed up for a 45-minute massage, with 29 randomly assigned to receive a deep-tissue Swedish massage, while the remaining 24 patients received a light touch session. Blood samples were taken from all the participants before and just after their massage session, and these were analyzed for hormones and lymphocytes.
The study authors found that participants who had Swedish massage also had slightly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and significantly reduced arginine vasopressin, which regulates blood pressure. The findings suggest that even a single massage session may have a significant impact on a patient’s inflammation and autoimmune system, and begin to explain why you feel so good after that massage.