Stressed? Muscles tight? Got 10 minutes? How about a quick massage? Going for a 60-minute session can seem like a luxury, but it turns out that even a quick 10-minute massage at home may help people who are stressed and need to take some time to relax.
Researchers in Germany looked at the effect of massage on mental and physical relaxation. The results of their small study showed that although 10 minutes of simple rest helped with relaxation, 10 minutes of massage offered more. A decrease in mental stress, in turn, can help improve physical health.
Sixty women, with no health issues, had either a vagus nerve massage, soft shoulder massage, or no massage at all, just rest. A vagus nerve massage targets the head and neck, aiming to slow down the heart rate and breathing, while soft shoulder massages involve stroking the base of the skull from the spine to the back of the ears. To start, all women were asked to sit quietly for 5 minutes for baseline measurement to see how stressed or relaxed they were. The women then participated in 10 minutes of massage or rest. After, the researchers assessed the women again and had them complete a questionnaire.
According to the researchers, all women said they felt more relaxed after their 10-minute session, but the women who had received massages were more so.
Maria Meier, a doctoral student in the lab of Neuropsychology and first author on the study said in a press release, “We are very encouraged by the findings that short periods of dis-engagement are enough to relax not just the mind but also the body. You don’t need a professional treatment in order to relax. Having somebody gently stroke your shoulders, or even just resting your head on the table for ten minutes, is an effective way to boost your body’s physiological engine of relaxation.”