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    What's the best type of massage for stress relief?

    It's 2021, and we're all dealing with an immense amount of pressure, more than our ancestors could have ever imagined. We face enormous amounts of stress, due to demands from our jobs, home environment, financial situations, health and even this pandemic. Quite frankly stress for all of us can be overwhelming and often difficult to deal with.

    That's because there is a build-up of hormones released by your brain's hypothalamus called cortisol. Large and frequent build ups of cortisol can lead to you having high blood pressure, depression, heart attacks, strokes and much more.

    One fantastic, natural and straightforward way of tackling stress is by getting massages. By simply receiving well needed nurture from a massage, you can reset your body's cortisol levels.

    Why touch?

    As humans, deep down, we all seek validation for being understood, cared for and rewarded. While words can only help us feel this much, science has shown physical touch has allowed us to receive similar feelings. According to Berkley, when we touch someone, a part of our brain known as the orbitofrontal cortex activates feelings of reward and compassion.

    This is no new finding; there's an abundance of scientific research out there to prove this. Sumioka et al. found that we can receive many physiological benefits from simple gestures which involve touch such as hugs!

    In their study, they asked participants to hug a human shaped cushion while on the phone. Their results showed a whopping decrease in cortisol after they had conversations on the phone, showing that the sense of comfort triggered a feeling of calmness.

    It gets better; it also helps to soothe our mental problems. Physical touch can release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine can help us control our anxiety and regulate our mood. A study was conducted, which showed that breast cancer patients had larger levels of dopamine and serotonin in their saliva after they received massages.

    Why do massages help stress?

    Massages no doubt involve a lot of being touched, and a single session can calm our minds. Similarly, the environment a massage is conducted in is often tranquil, and sometimes there are aromas involved that can cause us to relax. The MayoClinicreports that a 60-minute session can decrease stress hormone levels by 30%.

    Moreover, when we become stressed, our muscles tighten up, and we become tense. A skilled massage therapist can help decrease tension in your body by removing knots in your muscles. Because of the sense of touch, pressure and aromas, you become more relaxed.


    Massage techniques used for stress

    1. Swedish Massage

    Out of many massage techniques, the Swedish massage is one of the most common. This massage involves gentle kneading strokes done in a rhythm. Most of the time, the massage therapist touches the muscles' outer parts, slowly breaking knots in the tissues.

    Concerning this massage, there was a study that was conducted by Nazari et al. They tested 66 intensive care nurses. Participants were split into a control group and an experimental group. The experimental group had 25-minute Swedish massages two times a week for a month. In the end, the experimental groups showed less stress following the courses of massages as the control group.

    2. Reflexology

    Reflexology is a massage that focuses explicitly on applying pressure to your hands, feet and ears. Inside these body parts, there are specific points where the massage therapist applies pressure to relieve tension in the muscles and help your wellbeing.

    3. Hot Stone Massage

    During this massage, a therapist places smooth and hot stones on certain parts of your body. The heat that comes off the stones helps warm and relax your muscles, allowing more pressure to be placed on your muscles without causing pain. Most of the time, a hot stone massage has stones placed on your spine, on the palms of your hand, legs, stomach and feet.

    (Unsplash stock photo)

    4. Deep Tissue Massage

    A deep tissue massage involves a large amount of pressure. In this massage a masseuse uses their elbows, hands, fingers, knees, forearms and sometimes a device. It uses more pressure than a typical Swedish massage and involves slow deep strokes to inner muscles and tissues.

    5. Shiatsu Massage

    Shiatsu is a massage which comes from Japan that involves the use of Chinese medicine. This form of massage involves massage therapists using their fingers, thumbs and palms to apply pressure to specific body elements. It's believed that this pressure encourages energy to flow within the body and help imbalances.


    What is the best massage for stress relief?

    If you need to relieve stress, then a shiatsu massage is the best one to eliminate stress. This Japanese massage induces a sense of calm and relaxation in emotional and physical response.

    Can massages reduce stress?

    Due to the touch, environment and sense of relaxation, massages can reduce stress. Massages also help reduce pain and muscle tension within our bodies.

    Where do massages relieve stress?

    Massages lower our stress levels as they help lower our heart rate, increase the body's temperature, and help relaxation. Plus they can increase endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and decrease the level of cortisol in our brain.

    What are the 5 pressure points to relieve stress?

    The 5 pressure points are between your big toe and second toe, below your knee to the outside of your leg, inside your foot behind the base of your big toe, between your thumb and index finger and where your arm and chest meet.

    What are the pressure points to relieve pain?

    There is one main pressure point known as Hegu, which helps relieve pain; it's inbetween your left thumb and index finger. This has been shown to relieve pain. Other pressure points, such as above the wrist can help with stomach aches and nausea.

    How to find a good massage therapist?

    To find a good massage therapist, we suggest seeking out personal recommendations. Similarly, identify what you want to achieve from a massage session. If there are no personal recommendations, look online for qualified ones generally they'll have an ITEC (Level 3 RQF) Diploma. Similarly, check if the therapist meets your budget and cost.