When most people think of what they can do for their health, they think of being active, filling their plates with nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep each night. While these things are important, however, there is another, often-overlooked element that can contribute significantly to your wellbeing: human touch. Even a small amount of human touch can provide a surprisingly long list of health benefits.
You may have encountered people talking about the benefits of human touch through the lens of hugging, but did you know that many of the same benefits of hugging can also be obtained through massage? Think of massage therapy as akin to a prolonged hug, giving you an extended amount of therapeutic, human touch and all of the associated health benefits. Research shows that a 20-second hug can trigger these benefits, so imagine how much you can maximize these rewards during a 50-minute massage. Here are some of the ways that massage therapy can deliver the health advantages of hugging.
Increased Oxytocin Levels
Oxytocin is a hormone that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. You may have heard to it referred to as a “love” or “happy” hormone, because it works with dopamine and serotonin to produce positive emotions. Oxytocin levels are high in mothers after giving birth in order to help them bond with their infants, and it plays an important role in love, attraction, and relaxation.
Hugs increase the production of oxytocin after just 20 seconds, and massage therapy has the same impact—except it lasts for much longer. After a massage, you can expect to feel reduced anxiety, increased peace, and a general, positive feeling thanks to the release of oxytocin.
Lowered Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone. It is released with adrenaline when you face a short-term threat, in order to help you react quickly. However, when you suffer from chronic stress, cortisol levels remain high, even when there is no immediate threat present. Long-term exposure to high cortisol levels increases blood sugar and inflammation and can cause weight gain. These impacts can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious health risks.
In addition to increasing positive hormones like oxytocin, hugs—and massages—help to lower cortisol levels. In addition to the emotional benefits of reduced stress, you will reap the physical health improvements associated with reducing your cortisol level after a massage. Getting regular massages is a great way to keep these health risks in check.
Improved Immune System Function
One of the most important parts of your immune system is your white blood cells. They are responsible for helping your body fight infections, but their ability to tackle infections can be negatively impacted by stress, poor sleep patterns, unhealthy eating habits, and more. When your white blood cells are down, you are vulnerable to getting sick more often and to having more severe cases of any infection that you do pick up.
Like hugs, massage therapy increases the production of white blood cells. Your massage is an investment in your overall health, since it gives your immune system the boost it needs to function as efficiently as possible. Combined with lower cortisol levels that can be achieved during massage, you could see a significant improvement in your health with regular massage appointments.
Researchers have associated hugging with improved self-confidence, and the same results can be expected from massage therapy. This is an especially important consideration after pandemic lockdowns and quarantines, when many people were cut off from human contact and experienced negative mental health impacts from isolation.
All of the improvements caused by massage, from the reduction of stress to the improvement in oxytocin levels, create the foundation for better overall emotional wellbeing. For many people, this translates into feeling more confident about facing everything from work to personal relationships. A massage could be just what you need to get you back to feeling like yourself, so you can feel confident again.
Don’t underestimate the power of therapeutic touch! Massages can dramatically improve your emotional and physical wellbeing in all the ways that a hug can. You may not be able to schedule regular hugs, but you can schedule regular massages with Rubs Massage Studio. We have locations across Tucson, Chandler, and the surrounding areas to serve you. We offer 50, 80, and 120-minute massage appointments and loyalty pricing for all of our services, so you can reap the rewards of regular massage therapy. We also offer a variety of massage styles, including CBD massage, to maximize the benefits of your session. Boost the benefits of hugging and enjoy long-term results with regular massages at Rubs Massage Studio. Visit our website to find a location near you and to book your appointment online. Don’t forget to check out our other spa services, including skin care and waxing.