I don’t know why, but I am very accident-prone. I mean that sincerely, I can fall and break my leg while lying down on a flat surface; it’s one of my many talents. So of course, I am currently injured. In one quick and bewilderingly simple movement, I threw out my back. Now I’m restricted to sitting on the couch, moaning and eating copious amounts of chocolate.
While I think the chocolate is definitely helping, I understand that I need to do something other than give myself a sugar high; I’m thinking about getting a massage. It seems like the most logical, effective, and (most importantly) pleasurable way of restoring my back to health, along with its original capacity for mobility. Since there are vast and helpful benefits to massage, I think it will also make my brain happy.
You see, there are three main “systems” in the body that have immense impact on brain activity. These are the endocrine, nervous and immune systems, and they work as one massive, super connected network that corresponds with the brain via neurotransmitters. Through strategically applied pressure to the muscles, receptors in different areas of the brain are stimulated.
The more stimulation the body receives, the better brain function tends to be. It doesn’t only occur through massage, exercise produces the same effect; hence an increase in physical activity leads to better cognitive performance. However, in my present condition, I don’t think that’s a viable option, so a massage it is.
It turns out that the intensity of the massage has no impact on neurotransmitter function. What that basically means is that whether I opt for a serious deep tissue massage, or a relaxing Swedish session, my brain reaps the benefits of it all the same. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the brain uses a hefty percentage of the body’s glucose levels, so light snacking is a good idea before going in.
While the healing effects of massage are pretty evident in those who’re stressed or injured, massage also produces a positive effect in infants. Studies have shown that there’s a direct impact on the maturation of the visual cortex and an increase in brain development when massage is provided to human infants and rat pups. In that sense, massage is essentially multisensory stimulation.
Currently my brain is in a serious slump since I’ve spent the last week of 2012, and the first week of this year, trapped in my house dealing with ailments of diverse natures ((check last week’s flu post). This series of unfortunate events has left me feeling in need of some positive multisensory stimulation, and a massage is the perfect gateway to health and happiness for a person in my present condition. –Liz Belilovskaya