Massage therapy is a great way to invoke the relaxation response. The relaxation response occurs when the body is no longer in perceived danger, and the autonomic nervous system functioning returns to normal. Our autonomic nervous system is divided into our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. Our parasympathetic system is known as our “rest and digest” response. This is being in the state that allows us to relax, rest, recover and even digest our food.
What is the Relaxation Response?
Our sympathetic nervous system is our “fight or flight” response, related to a real or perceived threat such as trauma or stress. This is often invoked in stressful situations. Simply put, our relaxation response is the “off switch” to our body’s fight or flight response.
How To Achieve This Response:
Massage therapy can help our body and mind to be able to get into this relaxation stage, and this is very beneficial. Relaxation is extremely good for our healing and to recover from daily stressors. People often feel very relaxed and may even experience a feeling of being sleepy, lowered heart rate and lower respiratory rate during or after a massage.
Regular massages can help to reduce our stress responses. One example is a reduction in cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Massages can even help with improved sleep and mood related to the relaxation response elicited.
The power of touch in a massage is also something that is very important in the process of achieving the relaxation response. Touch has a lot of healing properties and combined with the pain reduction the massage provides to our muscles, it is a very healing process for our bodies.
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