There are many ways to relax. They include certain types of breathing, meditation or taking supplements. Stimulating the nerve endings of the carotid sinus, a spot in the region of the carotid artery, however, will not be readily familiar to most people as a way to get instant relaxation.

This super-effective and quick massage is in fact used in hospitals as a way to tackle heart arrhythmia. Massage instantaneously activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the associated vagus nerve, ensuring immediate relaxation. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate all decrease as direct results.

More than just stress reduction!

Beside reducing stress it also affects the rest of your body in a major way. The vagus nerve is linked to all internal organs. This super-highway between the brain and the intestines is responsible for the normal resting state in the body. It functions as a two-way street because it sends signals to organs but also receives information from these end-points. There is increasing awareness about the key role of the vagus nerve in health, which is of particular interest to today’s busy and stressful world.

The degree of fitness of the vagus nerve is measured by what is called the vagal tone, that is, the ability to activate the vagus nerve. People with high tone (good activation) show superior heart rate variability than those with a lower tone (poor activation). A low tone is not desirable and is linked to inflammation, poor heart function, digestive problems, and so on. A high tone equals a healthier body, positive feelings and superior emotional control.

Anything that affects the vagus nerve in a positive way has a stimulating effect on overall health. You can actually train your vagal tone through, for example, mindfulness exercises, taking probiotics, fasting, exposure to cold and by gargling. Neck massage also helps.

How does it work?

The carotid arteries (arteria carotis) spring from the aorta and run along both sides of the neck up to the brain. This is the artery you palpate when checking your heart rate. Right at the spot where you feel the heartbeat sit baroreceptors. These are special stretch-sensitive receptors that regulate blood pressure.

Baroreceptors have nerve endings which enable the brain to detect changes in blood pressure. The resulting “baroreflex” makes for a very fast mechanism. Carotid massage makes the brain think blood pressure is high and the response will be the activation of parasympathetic nerves and a "rest and digest" response. You should feel your body relax right away.

The technique

See the movie below to properly learn the massage technique, because there are some important points you should take into account.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/dVMCX9LuPgc[/youtube]