Many massage clients seek out massage to help manage or reduce pain. New research shows Zen meditation can reduce sensitivity to pain.

Researchers from the University of Montréal made their discovery by comparing the grey matter thickness of Zen meditators and non-meditators. They found evidence that practicing the centuries-old discipline of Zen can reinforce a central brain region (anterior cingulate) that regulates pain, according to a university press release.

“Through training, Zen meditators appear to thicken certain areas of their cortex and this appears to be underlie their lower sensitivity to pain,” says lead author Joshua A. Grant, a doctoral student in the University’s department of physiology. “We found a relationship between cortical thickness and pain sensitivity, which supports our previous study on how Zen meditation regulates pain.”

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