The science behind why a massage feels so good

Most of us have had a massage and have experienced the blissed out relaxed state we feel afterwards.  This is not just a ‘feeling’ but actual biochemical reactions taking place though out our body that effect our entire being in a positive way.

There have been several studies where researchers took blood samples that measured different markers in the body before, during and after a 45 minute massage.  Every time this was done, in all the people, they found there was a significant increase in dopamine which boosted mood, an increase in the immune killer t cells, a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol ,and remarkably an increase of oxytocin by an average of 17% after they were massaged!

Everybody needs more oxytocin in their lives! It is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter produced in the body which is sometimes called the ‘bonding hormone’ as it makes you feel safe and nurtured, allowing you to be more loving and trusting towards others.  It is mostly released via touch and it allows our nervous system be in a state we naturally like, – calm and relaxed, with a sense of well being.

Oxytocin also plays an important role during child birth as it stimulates the uterus to contract and labour to progress, contracts uterine muscles after delivery of placenta, and stimulates milk production/let down.  It is also responsible for giving you the the rush of euphoria after natural labour is over.  It needs certain environments for it to be released, so during birthing avoid bright light, and try not to be too stressed as it will inhibit the release of oxytocin.

Don’t worry about having a prenatal massage as it wont cause premature contractions as it only produces contractions when all other birthing factors in place.

Oxytocin can be released from gentle strokes or light pressure so during labour your inexperienced partner can still do alot of good by gently massaging your lower back in a circular motion.  I have seen this as being very empowering for the partner as they feel like they are helping with the birth process, instead of standing there unsure what to do.

Babies especially need oxytocin -loving touch and closeness are critical for them to feel safe, calm, and not overwhelmed. As they are unable to regulate their own nervous system this close contact generates a sense of relaxation and a feeling that all is well and will shape their ability to love and trust others.

Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin which in turn stimulates your milk secretion and fills you with love and tenderness towards your baby.  Don’t worry If you are unable to breast feed, you can still get surges of oxytocin by holding your baby close while bottle feeding, using a wrap or front pack, massaging their body or simply just cuddling and holding your baby.

Don’t forget about your children or adults in your life, we all could do with some extra oxytocin! Try lighting a candle in your surley teenagers room, and give their feet a rub, the oxytocin released will make them more trusting and open, in this environment you may find your teenager opens up and starts talking to you!

The most amazing thing about oxytocin is it is not just the receiver of a massage or even a 30 second hug that gets a release of oxyctocin but the giver as well!  What have you got to lose go and give someone you love a hug, book in a massage, the world would be a much calmer and more open place if we all had more of them!