The Benefits of a Head Massage
If you’ve ever been into one of our salons, you’ll know that every session comes with a scalp massage. We love pampering our guests like this, but not just because it feels good. Head massages have a whole host of benefits for physical and mental wellbeing.
The history of head massages can be tracked through European cave paintings, ancient Chinese texts, and traditional Indian medicine. Some even think it dates all the way back to primate grooming practices. It seems that people have always intrinsically known the benefits of this kind of touch, but it’s only over the last few decades that modern science has begun to prove its tangible benefits.
Hair increasing in thickness due to regular scalp massages was once thought to be an old wives’ tale. Recently, however, several scientific studies from Japan and the US and have indicated that it makes a real difference.
Obviously, we have an interest in hair health, so this is quite an exciting development, although there’s definitely more research to be done. It’s thought that the reason for the positive results seen so far could be due to massages increasing blood circulation in the scalp and stretching the dermal papilla (cells which regulate hair nutrition and growth).
Lowers Blood Pressure
Its also thought that head massages could play a role in lowering blood pressure.
We all know how relaxed and loose a good massage can make you feel. This is partially due to the masseuse working the tension out of your muscles and partially because simply the act of being touched can reduce stress, particularly in areas of the body with more sensitivity.
Moving into this more relaxed state can lower your heart rate, reducing blood pressure. Easing muscle tension also has the added benefit of increasing the flow of blood that may have been restricted by clenched muscles.
Head massages can also enhance the circulation in your scalp as the pressure from the masseuse’s fingers push blood through congested areas, allowing new, oxygen-rich blood to flow in.
Balances Nervous System
To put the technical stuff simply: your nervous system is divided into two branches: the sympathetic (which activates your fight-or-flight response) and the parasympathetic (which controls your relaxation response).
Usually, these two work to balance each other out pretty well. However, they’re more built to handle stressors like “There’s a wild animal you need to run away from.” which can be quickly resolved rather than long-term problems like a stressful job or problems at home.
When faced with a high-stress problem that remains unresolved (and who doesn’t have a few of those in their life?) your nervous system can become unbalanced.
When the branches come out of balance, the stress hormones can continue to flow unabated. This can cause high blood pressure, reduced brain function and a variety of other problems.
Massages have been shown to help turn the sympathetic nervous system off and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This encourages anti-stress hormones to flow through your body. Over time, it’s thought that massages can also strengthen the parasympathetic system, making it easier to switch yourself to relaxed mode in your day-to-day life.
We’re all familiar with headaches, unfortunately! Whether from a little too much wine the night before or too much screen time, you’re probably a little too familiar with these unwelcome aches. There are so many possible causes for headaches: muscle tension, eye strain, inflamed sinuses, lack of sleep, and constricted blood vessels to name a few.
Head massages can’t help to ease all these conditions, but they are often recommended for those suffering specifically from tension headaches, migraines, or headaches caused by neck injuries.
A head massage works to increase the blood flow to your scalp, which can soothe symptoms by flushing our toxins and giving that area of your body a boost of oxygen and nutrients. Massaging strained muscles can also encourage repair (in the case of an injury) and release tension, helping to soothe headache symptoms or sometimes wipe them out entirely,
Remember those anti-stress hormones we mentioned? They’re not just relaxing in the moment. Studies have shown that the release or hormones such as serotonin and endorphins during a massage can have some real benefits on your mental health in the long haul.
People struggling with mental health disorders often show particularly high levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and low levels of endorphins (which are released during times of relaxation and happiness). Massages can help to guide the body to address this and increase levels of endorphins. Several studies have now pointed towards frequent massages significantly relieving the symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
Massages also fulfil a need for physical touch which is just very good for all humans. When someone touches you skin-on-skin, your body releases oxytocin, which is sometimes known as the love hormone. It can produce feelings of trust and stability and increase your self-esteem. No wonder you come out of a head massage with that glowing sensation!
Do it yourself?
Head massages can be just a little bit addictive, and the great news is that you can do them yourself at home!
If you’re massaging an injured area or applying pressure around your spinal cord, you should seek professional guidance before trying at home. You may also find that you simply feel more benefits from investing in a professional massage.
However, many people find giving themselves or loved ones head massages at home can be an enriching experience that helps with feelings of peace and relaxation.
There’s also a number of options on how to do this. You could try rubbing an essential oil in circular motions around the scalp, applying light finger strokes to the side of the head or using a tool.
You’ve probably seen the scalp-massaging contractions that look a bit like a wire helmet, but there are other options like silicon brushes and electric massagers.
What’s the verdict?
We give head massages a big thumbs up, which is why they’re a standard part of the service at NOCO.
It’s good for your hair, good for your body and good for the soul, and we know that our clients deserve the very best care.