Can Massage Improve Brain Function?

Can Massage Improve Brain Function?

Brain health is a primary focus of well-being. Your brain chemistry and function improve as you learn a new language, take up a new activity, stay socially engaged or when you commit to new experiences on a daily basis. Another significant way to maintain brain health is through regular physical activity.

Here are two ways that exercise supports optimal cognitive function:

  • Besides helping the body maintain good health, physical exercise is also known to increase the size of the brain’s hippocampus, which is associated with storing new memories, experiencing emotions and absorbing learning.
  • Brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a protein responsible for making neural connections and stimulating the growth of brain cells, is stimulated through body activity. BDNF is also thought to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


How healthy is your brain?

How good would you say your memory is?

Can you count backwards from 100 by three’s?

How many thought-stimulating games do you play? How often?

Do you read (books, newspapers) often?

How often do you exercise?


How Massage Gets Your Brain in Gear

If you find your brain activity lacking, you may want to enhance your neural functioning by trying this unlikely support –> get a massage.

Why?  Because, when pressure is applied to the body’s muscles during a massage it helps stimulate the flow and production of neurotransmitters from three main systems: the endocrine system, the nervous system and the immune system.

  • Endocrine System:

The endocrine system consists of a network of glands in the body that secretes hormones into the blood stream to help the body function properly and maintain stasis. This system affects almost every organ and cell in the body – bones and tissue for growth, internal body systems for homeostasis, body energy levels through metabolism, reproductive systems and healing systems that respond to stress and injury.

  • Nervous System:

The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells in the body that works synergistically with the brain to monitor the proper function and balance of internal organs.

Two systems within the nervous system – the Peripheral Nervous System and the Central Nervous System are responsible for flowing information from the body’s extremities and organs to the brain, which then responds to stimulate the organs that regulate such functions as motor reflexes, heart rate, emotional feedback (fight or flight), and automatic and sensory responses (thinking, learning, pain data, taste, smell, sound and memory)

  • Immune System:

Massage helps support the body’s defenses by increasing the effect of the immune systems “killer cells” to fight stress, infections and encourage cellular nourishment from improved circulation.  Regular massage can help keep your immune system performing at its peak.


Three Neurotransmitters That Enliven the Brain:

Massage stimulates the production of specific neurotransmitters that focus on unique aspects of health. Here are three that improve overall health as well as high brain function:

Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, sleep and promotes a sense of contentment

Dopamine induces pleasure and reward responses

Oxytocin supports feelings of love and warmth


Caution: Massage that stimulates the brain is contraindicated for such conditions as stroke and some traumatic brain injuries. Medical consultation is always recommended in such cases.  

Through massage, it is not only possible to develop wellness within the body but brain function can also be supported to reach its optimal potential. The result is greater overall physical, mental and spiritual wellness.


“Everything we do, or neglect to do, affects our brains. Everything we “perceive” has to do with brain function. A decrease in brain activity affects the body’s ability to function normally.” ~ Victoria Linn, LMT, NVMT 


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