You have just had the most melty, stretchy, delicious massage of your life and you are feeling that warm, woozy, happy glow that is a body rejuvenated. Hooray! The world awaits the new you!
However, before you go zipping back out into the jungle that is Los Angeles traffic, a word of caution: Massaged Driving is Buzzed Driving. How so?
During that yummy massage hour or hour and a half, there’s a lot happening in your body. As you relax, and as your muscles release, your nervous system shifts into a more parasympathetic (aka “rest and digest”) state. “Feel Good” neurohormones like Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin are elevated in the system, and Cortisol, a stress-related hormone produced by the adrenal gland, as well as Epinephrine or Adrenaline, a hormone that helps regulate our fight or flight response, are reduced. All of these chemical changes lower blood pressure, as well as our heart rate and influence a state of relaxation.
In addition, a study done at the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami has shown that massage increases delta waves in the brain, the same brainwaves linked with deep sleep.
It is well known that driving while drowsy can be just as hazardous as driving while under the influence. Being awake for 18 hours straight is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of .05 (.08 being legally impaired) in terms of performance on the road. When you are drowsy (or in the case of massage, extremely relaxed as if coming out of a deep sleep) it is harder to pay attention, and can affect how well you can make a fast decision.
Case in point: a client left our offices recently saying she felt fine to drive, and then called a little later in the afternoon to let AMF know that she was so relaxed that she almost drove straight through a red light! Another example: several months ago a client was still feeling spacey and relaxed after his massage and made it home safely. However, once he got home he wasn’t paying attention and hit his gas pedal instead of the brake as he was parking and crashed into his fence!
Extreme examples, to be sure. Of course, if any massage relaxation wooziness is accompanied by persistent dizziness or a feeling of vertigo then you should consult with the appropriate medical professional immediately. However, drinking plenty of water, making sure to eat well before the massage, and giving an extra 5-10 minutes to “wake up the system” is worth it! Your fence will thank you!