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How Does Massage Reduce Stress?

We all know that certain types of constant stress in our lives are not healthy. But did you know that recent evidence indicates the physical changes associated with stress may contribute to the leading causes of death – heart disease and cancer? In addition, stress can create and/or exacerbate many physical and emotional conditions such as chronic fatigue, digestive upset, headaches, back pain, high blood pressure and risk of stroke.

A recent study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recruited 53 healthy adults and assigned them to receive deep tissue, Swedish and light touch massage. Blood samples were taken immediately before the massage and up to an hour afterward. The researchers found that a single session of massage caused biological changes.

Volunteers showed significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They also had increases in white blood cells that are part of the immune system. Volunteers experienced greater increases in a hormone associated with contentment and bigger decreases in the adrenal hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol. While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, higher and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, such as those associated with chronic stress, have been shown to have negative effects. What this study shows is that receiving massage actually activates the body on an internal level to respond and correct the physiological imbalance caused by our stressful lives. FBN

By Mark Love

 

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