The readers of this newsletter are all patients of The Boston Bodyworker, so there is no reason to try and “sell” you on the benefits of massage therapy. However, often we hear our guests struggle over expressing why they get a massage on a regular basis. It is our responsibility to not only provide you with a great massage, but to also be certain that you are receiving all the amazing side effects that come from good bodywork and an understanding of their impact on you.
The interaction between you and your therapists are more than you simply stating where it hurts and us addressing the complaint. In order for us to provide you with the full spectrum of massage therapy benefits, therapists are also paying attention to a very underappreciated yet highly impactful asset to a great massage; your biochemistry.
This may sound to scientific, but the fact remains that how we communicate, through both our words and our touch, can trigger neurotransmitters to fire. Certain neurotransmitters are essential for achieving optimal outcomes. The acronym D.O.S.E. is often used to describe these essential ‘feel good chemicals’ that are released by the brain when stimulated through a good massage treatment. See how they all impact your overall experience and general state of wellbeing.
This neurotransmitter drives our brain’s reward system and stimulates pleasure-seeking behavior, motivating us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs… and giving us a surge of reinforcing pleasure as we achieve them. This is why we encourage our staff to establish goals. Establishing short- and long-term goals will provide the patient with small hits of dopamine as they work towards achieving these goals. By creating goals, you are addressing pleasure-reward hormones, prior to even starting the massage.
Over a series of sessions, oxytocin enhances intimacy and trust, contributing to healthy client relationships and improved therapeutic outcomes. In fact, researchers have found that interpersonal touch not only stimulates oxytocin release, but also reduces cardiovascular stress and enhances immune function. This is why we encourage staff to use slow non-vigorous massage strokes with the intent of “pampering” the client as we transition from different areas or incorporate different techniques. Getting a hug after your visit is another nice way to “spike” the uptake too!
This neurotransmitter directly influences dopamine — the chemical that makes you feel good — so it’s important to know how to trigger it.
The most effective and natural way to boost serotonin is through exercise, biosocial bonding, and good bodywork. Don’t be surprised when you fall asleep on the therapy table even when receiving vigorous soft-tissue manipulation, as the production of serotonin is a key component of sleep.
Along with hands-on work, an additional way to get serotonin flowing is by assuring the client they are being heard and respected. This is why we train our staff to stay present and engaged from the time they walk in the room. Reflecting on past therapeutic achievements also elevates patient’s moods as they re-live the experience and take pride in the goals they have achieved.
Endorphins are released by the brain, spinal cord, and pituitary gland in response to stressful situations, perceived threat, or pain. They temporarily buffer pain in much the same way as drugs such as morphine and codeine and are known to bring on feelings of euphoria (runner’s high) during vigorous exercise. Working in conjunction with serotonin, endorphins also help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Researchers have found slow, sustained deep-tissue work best stimulates the release of endorphins, causing the brain to gate the pain. In the beginning, endorphin work only masks the client’s discomfort, but with each session, the brain begins changing its mind about the pain as confidence in the therapeutic intervention increases.
Massage has a wide array of benefits for everyone. However, we know that our bodies function optimally when our hormones are in proper working order and our body is receiving the appropriate D.O.S.E. of naturally occurring neurotransmitters. Massage is just one way we can help your body take care of itself, naturally.