Massage ~ getting rubbed the right way

You might be delighted to hear that massage, once thought of as a "luxury item" or something you received an occasional gift certificate for on your birthday, really needs to be part of your regular health regime.

Not only does massage feel incredibly good, works those aching muscles and gets your blood circulating, we now know that it does a great job reducing that stress hormone cortisol from continuing to run on high. That stress hormone, Cortisol, is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. Like when you come home and see your teenage daughter wearing a much too short mini-skirt, or the repo man with your car in tow, you know, things like that.

But it seems that in our fast paced world and stressful lives our cortisol doesn't know when to kick off.  It stays running.  And it can go up and down, to extremes. Like an air conditioner you forgot to turn off at night and wake up to a freezing morning.  It is a waste of energy.

Cortisol also increases blood sugar when you're feeling stressed and that excess glucose becomes stored as fat once the stressful event is over. Cortisol has been blamed for abdominal fat, as you've seen on so many ads that have been running lately.

Studies have shown that deep-tissue massage lowered cortisol and raised oxytocin, the hormone of alleviation and bonding.  The studies also showed that massage improved immune function, slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

So while I realize that not all of us can afford a weekly massage, we can probably recruit a family member or partner to do an exchange with us.  Some kind of barter system.  Get creative. But it seems that touch, and in this case, massage, is vitally important for so many reasons.  I mean, what a wonderful way to reduce stress, build your immune system and feel a little love.  Not a bad prescription for a healthier you, eh?