Stress, diet and sleep habits factor into how the body responds to/handles pain. Massage therapy works on many levels to lessen/eliminate pain. The body of research on massage and X (X = pain, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, depression, cancer, migraines, stroke recovery, cortisol levels, etc.) is still small for some conditions or symptoms and bigger for others. Overall, as massage therapy becomes more in demand and non controlled studies help fund controlled studies and more grants are issued etc., this body of research is growing albeit slowly.
When we’re stressed psychologically or physically, our body will directly manifest the stress – tightness or pain in the musculature or joints, mental confusion, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, release of certain hormones (such as adrenalin or cortisol), increase in heart rate and/or blood pressure.
From the available data, the strongest support is for the view that massage induces relaxation response and enhances mood — which can decrease anxiety and depression, lessen frequency and duration of migraines and so on. Many extrapolations can be drawn and even if studies are growing slowly, the pleasure and healing one can receive from a well informed massage can’t be quantified but is usually always verbalized.
Massage has a normalizing effect on the central nervous system immediately soothing the mind and body. You cannot help it; your body’s functions will immediately slow down and calm when it receives directed, therapeutic touch.
It’s little wonder that massage has been used as a healing modality for over 3500 years.