Hello Wellness Fans!
One of the most widely recognized effects of massage is that it decreases the sensation of pain. Aside from the highly trained touch of a massage therapist, we all instinctively address our own pain by rubbing or squeezing areas of injury.
Positive human touch is a powerful thing and our bodies are ready and wired to respond to it. If you have ever had a body part waxed, you have probably noticed that your aesthetician presses their hand over the freshly waxed skin immediately after removing the strip. They are doing this for a reason, folks!
You may already associate this gesture as being comforting in nature, but if you’ve never really noticed it, next time you get a wax, ask them not to do it after one strip, and assess the difference for yourself.
The reason why this touch causes the pain to feel less intense is due to a theory called ‘Pain-Gating’; it occurs in our bodies due to the fact that we have specific receptors for different sensations, connecting to nerves that travel to the brain at various speeds.
Pain sensations travel to the brain along slow-moving sensory nerve pathways (ex. back roads). The sensations produced by massage however, travel to the brain along fast-moving nerve pathways (ex. highways).
If sensations are travelling along these two pathways simultaneously, those arriving along the fast-moving pathways have a blocking effect on those arriving on the slow-moving pathways.
In a nutshell – The sensations of massage win the race to the brain, and slam the gate in pain’s face! Whoohoo!