You don’t have to go on a detox diet or drink special smoothies to detox. Start with a massage to kick-start your body’s own natural cleansing processes, which can slow down for a variety of reasons — lack of regular exercise, too little fluids or fiber in the diet … If you haven’t been taking the best care of yourself, a detoxifying massage can help set things right again.
How does massage help the body detox, exactly?
The rhythmic strokes and pressure applied to muscles, tissues and organs during massage therapy help stimulate the circulatory system. It works sort of like a sponge: When pressure is applied to the tissue and fat, toxins are literally “squeezed” out from in between the muscle fibers and cells. They’re released into the circulatory system for easier elimination.
The lymph system is key
Your lymphatic fluid system works with your cardiovascular circulatory system to flush out toxins and carry immune cells throughout the body to help defend against infections. If your lymph fluid circulation gets sluggish, toxins can accumulate and immune cells may not get carried to the areas of the body where they’re needed.
Since the lymph system doesn’t have a big central pump like the heart to keep things moving, it has to rely on gravity, exercise, breathing … and massage. So if you haven’t been as good as you should about your exercise, diet and “me time” routine (it happens to the best of us!), that can affect how you feel, causing aches, pains and swelling (lymph edema). It can also cause deterioration in organs and glands like the thymus that are vital players in your immune system.
It’s easy to see why detoxification is important to avoiding illness and chronic health conditions. So if you’re not feeling your best or haven’t been as good about your diet and exercise routine lately, try a massage to get back on track. Remember to drink a glass or two of pure water after massage to help the body flush out toxins more rapidly.
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Massage and your hormones
Hormones are a regulatory substance that can change our emotions and feelings. They can change because of simple things like the amount of sleep we get or what we eat. They also change during certain stages in our lives like pregnancy or starting a new job. Situations like these bring unwanted hormones that can cause stress. The use of massage can help stimulate certain hormones in our bodies to create an overall feeling of well-being.
Massage can have an effect on our hormones in many different ways to make our bodies feel better. Massage can help to reduce stress as well as trigger happiness and contentment. According to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, research shows that a good massage can do more than just relax your muscles. They can induce biological changes that can reduce stress.
While massage wards off stress with ease, it can also have a way of boosting our ‘feel good’ hormones. Serotonin and dopamine have been linked with feeling of happiness and well-being as well as heightened sensitivity. According to the International Journal of Neuroscience, research has shown that the levels of serotonin and dopamine are higher after having a massage. On average, an increase of 28% was noted for serotonin and an average increase of 31% was noted for dopamine after the participants in the research received a massage.
Reducing stress and boosting our happiness is only a few things that massage can do for your well-being. Massage has been known to release endorphins, which are natural pain-killers throughout your body. Also, research has shown that massage can increase oxytocin which is a hormone often referred to as the “love hormone” because it is associated with maternal behavior, feelings of trust and contentment, and pair bonding.
If that is not enough, research sponsored by the National Center for Contemporary and Alternative Medicine showed that massage can also boost your immune system by increasing white blood cells. White blood cells play a vital role in defending the body against infectious disease as well as foreign materials.
All the positive hormonal activity described above is particularly great when you are dealing with a postpartum body coupled with the effects of sleep deprivation! Massage is an incredible healer for new moms, restoring hormonal balance and re energizing mom.
Anice Lombard, Massage Mama. Mama of 2 and Massage Therapist