How massage can act as a painkiller

A massage can easily make any day’s woes disappear.

Muscle and Joint

Dominique Vanier
Dominique Vanier

02 February 2017

Indeed, there are few things in life more relaxing than a 60-minute body massage. The healing power of touch has the ability to send waves of calmness through the body, easing feelings of stress, anxiety, and pain…

With our chronically sedentary and overworked lifestyle that is often accompanied by poor posture and tight muscles, a massage may be just the solution to relieving those sore neck, shoulder, and back muscles.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy acts as a natural painkiller in a number of ways. It promotes the body’s relaxation response, which is the body’s mechanism that engages the parasympathetic nervous system and decreases physiological and psychological “alertness” produced by stress. At the cellular level, it is proposed that massage can alter pain perception by stimulating large nerve fibres and inhibiting the transmission of painful stimuli.

It can also act an effective pain reliever in a variety of subpopulations, including in individuals with exercise-induced skeletal muscle injury and hospital in-patients.

In those with temporary muscle damage, massage therapy appears to reduce inflammation and support mitochondrial function (the powerhouse of the cell). In acute-care settings such as hospitals, the integration of massage therapy can help a patient better deal with the challenging physical and psychological aspects of their health condition.

Massage has also been found to be beneficial for pain reduction in other various conditions, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and potentially fibromyalgia.

Whether you are an avid gym-goer, experience chronic pain, or are just in need of some human touch, massage therapy may be worth your while.

Below are some tips on how to maximize your massage experience and help reduce muscular pain:

  • Choose a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). RMT is a professional designation used by regulated professionals in legislated provinces. A registered massage therapist has completed at least two years of education at a recognized school of massage therapy, whose designation assures that they have received a standardized education and passed standardized licensing exams.
  • Don’t neglect your forgotten muscles! Sure, it feels fantastic receiving a back and neck massage, but don’t forget about your muscles that carry us through our workdays, such as your forearms and calves. These muscles tend to be tight and tender for many individuals.
  • Exercise to help your posture. If poor posture is contributing to your pain – and it likely is if you work at a desk – you may want to incorporate strength-training exercises that focus on small postural muscle groups to help keep your shoulders down and back and assist in keeping your trunk more upright.
  • Try essential oils to enhance your relaxation. Besides adding a pleasant aroma to your therapy experience, essential oils such as Aromaforce eucalyptuslavender, or peppermint oils contain relaxing properties and can further add to your state of calmness.
  • Work with your healthcare practitioner. If you experience chronic pain, it is important to work with your primary healthcare provider to ensure your pain is being managed appropriately.


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