Can massage provide real health benefits?
Can a good massage go beyond relaxing your muscles and provide real health benefits?
Yes! The New York Times reports on a study recently conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in which participants were either given a 45-minute deep-tissue (i.e. Swedish) massage or a light massage. The researchers found that just one session of massage caused biological changes in the participants:
Volunteers who received Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva, and in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. They also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system. Volunteers who had the light massage experienced greater increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment, than the Swedish massage group, and bigger decreases in adrenal corticotropin hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.
If you need a reason to splurge on a massage, this would be it.