How Thai Massage Helps Your Nervous System
March 20, 2018 § 1 Comment
The nervous system regulates all other systems of the body. Using Thai Massage to calm the nerves indirectly improves the functioning of all your organs.
Our autonomic nervous system, which controls the automatic functions of our body such as our heartbeat and digestion, consists of two types of fibers:
- The sympathetic nervous system
- The parasympathetic nervous system
The brain controls these two systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is activated when we face an emergency, shock or trauma. Our body automatically gets into the “fight or flight” mode:
- Your breathing accelerates to provide more oxygen to the blood
- Your heart rate and blood pressure increase to carry more blood to the muscles
- Muscles contract to be able to cope with the action
- The adrenal glands secrete adrenaline into the bloodstream to strengthen and maintain the activity of the sympathetic nervous system
- The digestive system slows down, to save energy
Meanwhile the brain also triggers a chemical reaction: stress hormones are secreted, the main one being cortisol, which gives the body more energy.
When stress is eliminated, the brain switches to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system involved in the normal functioning of our body systems. When the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered, the sympathetic nervous system begins to rest.
During periods of low stress, you experience the following:
- Your heart rate and blood pressure go down
- Your blood pressure stabilizes
- Your muscles relax
- You digestion goes back to normal
Your body’s response to stress is originally designed for a short time, or to deal with an external (physical) situation. However, chronic stress (psychological or emotional) is more and more frequent nowadays. Financial problems, long-term illness in the family, or unsatisfactory work can all be causes of chronic stress.
During chronic stress, the brain can no longer trigger the activities of the parasympatic nervous system, and the body’s capacity to return to the state of rest and repair is greatly impaired or stops altogether:
- Cortisol decreases the functions of the immune system
- The sympathetic nervous system maintains high heart rate
- Your blood pressure rises
- Your muscles remain tense and painful as they are loaded with lactic acid and because of limited fluid circulation
- Your digestive system is stops working
- Your immune system can no longer fight infections or illness
- Your adrenal glands are exhausted
- Your body becomes more sensitive to cardiovascular disease
- Your muscles and hormonal glands get tired because of constant stimulation, which can lead to stomach ulcers
So how to relax the nervous system? Can massage help?
When you receive a massage, “touch” messages are sent to your brain. Your brain then decides if the contact is positive. It does so by comparing it to similar experiences from your past.
If the touch is perceived as a positive experience, the parasympatic nervous system is activated and cortisol levels are reduced. The body returns to its state of rest and restoration.
As you receive massage therapy, the following occurs:
- Breathing and blood circulation slow down
- Anxiety decreases
- Your stomach may even gurgle as a sign that your digestive system is functioning normally again
In addition to having an indirect effect on the autonomic nervous and hormonal systems, a Thai Massage also has a direct effect on the body’s systems that have suffered from chronic stress:
- Blood circulation is stimulated, improving nutrient transport and waste drainage
- The touch received through massage stimulates and stretches muscle fibers to relax them and relieve aches and pains. A Thai Massage also removes lactic acid and other wastes to leave room for oxygen and nutrients required by the muscles.
After a treatment, you will feel more relaxed, with less tension, and your sleep will be improved. Your body as well as your mind will begin recovering from the effects of the prolonged stress response.
Regular massage treatments can help prevent chronic stress and promote long-term balance.