5 Ways Massage Supports Weight Loss!
Have you had a massage lately? I bet you felt relaxed with less pain and more movement.
Have you been trying to lose weight? I imagine you are watching what you eat and trying to exercise more.
But did you know that massage can help you to manage your weight? No, I’m not making some far-fetched claim: “Lose 30 pounds just with massage!”. That would be ridiculous and frankly, unethical. But my practice is all about whole body care, and I’ve come to realize that massage can support weight loss efforts too.
Here are five reasons why:
1) Massage improves circulation.
The push/pull and pressure from massage techniques increase blood flow. A study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed Improved blood flow from massage – up to 72 hours after the massage! As blood flows, it circulates oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and to the brain and helps to carry away waste products. Massage further helps to stimulate the Lymphatic system, which requires movement to properly function as it does not have a pump (like the heart) to make it flow. The lymphatic system and the circulatory system work in tandem to nourish and detoxify the body. Since your blood is having an easier time moving, your heart doesn’t have to work extra hard (bonus!). Your body is better nourished, better capable of purging metabolic wastes and fully oxygenated. Oxygen is needed to burn the fuel (sugar and fatty acids) in your cells to produce energy. This is metabolism!
2) Massage promotes better sleep.
Massage relaxes you by engaging your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS is our “relax and recover” nervous system. It is in charge when you are sleeping and is engaged when you are fully relaxed. Sleep – high quality sleep – is necessary to maintain a healthy weight or to make strides in losing weight. While sleeping, the PSNS increases intestinal and glandular activity (digestion and hormonal balance). You actually burn calories while sleeping to repair and replenish the body! If you have a difficult time sleeping, massage may be the answer.
3) Massage releases Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is one of many neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. It is specifically related to touch and a sense of closeness to others. When Oxytocin is released, we have a “feel connected” feeling. This feeling is registered in the same part of the brain that registers dopamine, so a release of Oxytocin gives you an overall “I feel great” feeling. Eating and certain foods also give you a burst of dopamine (which is why it’s easy to eat when feeling emotional). You can get the same good feeling from massage as you can from food…without the extra calories!
4) Massage helps to lower stress.
Recall that parasympathetic nervous system? When the PSNS is engaged, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is disengaged. The sympathetic nervous system is our “flight or flight” response system and is the nervous system that is engaged while we are awake. It is always on the lookout and ready to flee from danger. The SNS has a powerful ally in Cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone and is designed to help you when there is trouble. But too much stress, leads to a constant flood of cortisol into your bodily systems which can lead to several poor health conditions. Weight gain is one frequent side effect of too much cortisol. By receiving a massage, however, you disengage from the SNS which automatically lowers cortisol. One study by the National Institutes of Health showed a 31% decrease in cortisol (and a 31% increase in dopamine) following a massage!
5) Massage tunes you into your body.
Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, massage connects you with “self”. Losing weight is hard, but it’s even more difficult if you are not aware of your body – how you feel; what you need; where there is an issue. The best way to lose weight is to know how your body reacts to certain foods (maybe sugar really is good for you!) in order to know WHAT to eat. Then you also need to be able to recognize when your body is hungry and when your body is full, in order to know HOW to eat.
For some of you, this is easy. But for others – well, if you haven’t been connected to your body for many years, then knowing what you need is a challenge. Massage can deepen a connection with your inner knowledge by helping you to “get out of your head”. The brain thinks but the body feels, and it is ready to give you immediate feedback on what is or is not working in your life. If you can tune in to your body, ask it the right questions and then listen for the answer, you will know what to do to care for yourself.
Massage is a powerful tool for optimal health, even if you are not looking to lose weight. But if weight is a top concern for you, then consider adding massage as part of your wellness plan. The benefits far outweigh (pun intended) the risks!
You can learn more in my book: Food, Feelings and Freedom: The End to Emotional Eating.
Would you like more information? Just send me a quick email at Amber@youareboundless.com or you can schedule an appointment for a massage or a health coaching appointment.