Ask anyone who has enjoyed a scalp or head and shoulder massage from a trained massage therapist if they feel better for it. The answer is a universal yes. Head massages are hard to beat for relaxation. But what happens to our bodies when we receive a head, scalp, and neck massage? How does it work? Does kneading and stroking the part of the body surrounding the brain elicit some physiological response, or is it all in our head, literally?
The Goal Of Massage
The primary aim of all massage therapy is to improve someone’s well-being. This may happen by targeting the causes of particular symptoms, such as neck pain, back pain, stress, and anxiety. Massage can also boost feelings of happiness and relaxation by the mere acts of laying on hands.
Humans and animals (and almost all living species) show positive responses to touch. Babies will not survive without parental touch and in fact, human touch decreases pain symptoms in newborns. Studies that examine the links between pain relief and touch show promising results.
What Does This Have To Do With Head Massage?
Despite the relatively immobile cranium, small muscles around the head respond well to touch. And this part of the body is the closest to the brain, which processes sensations. The parts of the body that typically receive massage are the back and legs.
Massage helps ease muscle spasms and knots in parts of the body prone to tightness and tension. Obviously, the scalp and back of the head contain only small muscles that play no part in moving your body around or resisting heavy loads. But tension can build up in this area. And new studies have found that the body’s response to touch near the head is more complex than we once thought.
The Mind-Body Connection
The physical and mental benefits of massage are linked. Psychosomatic therapy has always looked at how the mind influences the body but this mind-body concept is increasingly accepted these days. External stimuli has the power to alter our brain chemistry, which affects our body. We now know our state of mind can influence our gut health and vice versa. Negative thoughts and sensations can have a detrimental effect on our physical appearance. And the reverse is also true – physical pain or discomfort can lead to mental strain and depression.
Head massage is an effective technique to use for tight muscles, stress, acute pain and post-surgery. There are many benefits when receiving a head massage. Benefits of a head massage include decreased stress, decreased pain, improved circulation and relaxation. Head massage, in any form, should be part of your health regime.