It sounds like a no-brainer. Of course we should all get massages. They relieve stress, right? Or can it actually be stressful to get a massage?
As you know, no two people always respond the same to the same treatment or stimulus. This concept applies to massage as well. They’re not for everyone. So how do you know if they’re good for you? Well, how do you feel after a massage? Do you get extremely tired, spaced out and need to take a nap afterwards? Do you feel completely energized and wish you could get a massage daily because it revives you so much? Lastly, do you simply feel at peace and less stressed after a massage? Let me explain the difference in meaning between all of these outcomes.
1) You feel extremely fatigued and spaced out after a massage.
An outcome of this nature indicates that your brain is not healthy enough to handle the stimulation of massage. Realize, every single sensory input (smell, taste, touch, sound, and light) that gets registered in your body is processed by your brain. Brain cells become stimulated which help you identify the stimulus and make a decision on that stimulus. Sometimes, if the stimulus is overwhelming for your brain cells, or the brain cells are too unhealthy to handle the stimulus, they will not function properly. This very often manifests as fatigue or brain-fog (cloudy-headedness). Another example of this brain-based concept is when bright lights, computer screens, or loud noises cause people to develop a migraine.
So if you’re experiencing fatigue after a massage, it’s a good indication that your brain isn’t healthy enough to handle the sensory barrage that your muscle, skin and joint receptors are sending to it for processing. If this is the case, you either should avoid massages or get one for a shorter period of time where you don’t become fatigued afterward. Lastly, if this is you, it would help to implement strategies that can repair your overall brain function. This would include nutritional and physical treatments.
2) You feel revitalized by massages.
If you feel totally alive and “ready-to-go” after a massage, you should probably continue to get them! This would indicate that your brain cells actually need the activation massage provides by stimulating your muscle, skin and joint receptors. That’s the good news! However, if this occurs with you, it would also indicate that your brain may be under-functioning and might need support with nutritional and other treatment strategies. Afterall, you shouldn’t need a specific treatment on a regular basis in order to feel alive and “ready-to-go”. You should always feel great!
3) You feel at peace and less stressed after a massage.
Great! If this is you, enjoy your regular massages! This indicates a normal brain response to the stimulation massage provides. In the long-term, it’s probably even assisting in keeping your brain healthy!
I hope this helps you understand why different people react differently to the same stimulus. And hopefully you can now make more informed choices.
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and board-certified teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology – Member of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation – Associates Degree in Homeopathy
What if #1 happens after any sort of body work – chiropractic, craniosacral, energy work etc???
Dr. Rob D'Aquila
Well, it’s the same concept. All of the modalities you mentioned will stimulate the brain. And if the neurons in the brain are unhealthy, they will “over-fire” (to put it simply) and you can get neuron (nervous system cell) fatigue or neuronal cell death. This typically manifests as brain-fog or fatigue and results in an inability function well.
The differentiation between brain fatigue or foggy-headedness and a release of endorphins needs to be assessed, however. Endorphin release may be perceived as euphoria and there may be a fine line between people realizing a euphoric experience and a brain-based fatigue experience. If you’re asking the question, it’s probably neuron stimulation overload and not euphoria… It’s not that those modalities are harmful per se, they may just need to be done in smaller doses and frequencies.
Also – and this is a “big also” – it’s very important that the practitioner is doing the therapy in the appropriate manner. A chiropractor can adjust joints that either don’t need adjusting, or adjust joints in the wrong direction or on the wrong side (for that person). A cranio-sacral therapist may be making the “wrong” contacts. An energy worker may be stimulating the “wrong” chakras (or whatever energy they’re manipulating). So it’s very important to seek a qualified and competent practitioner. Just because it sounds good, and because the person may need that – if done improperly, it can lead to negative outcomes.
I hope this helps and feel free to ask further questions.
Thanks for asking!
Dr. Rob D’Aquila