The New York Times reports on a study recently conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in which participants were either given a 45-minute deep-tissue (i.e. Swedish) massage or a light massage. The researchers found that just one session of massage caused biological changes in the participants:
Volunteers who received Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva, and in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. They also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system.If you need a reason to splurge on a massage, this would be it.
Volunteers who had the light massage experienced greater increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment, than the Swedish massage group, and bigger decreases in adrenal corticotropin hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.