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Massage Lessons from Kinky Spider Sex

Soon it will be that time of the year again; time for the male golden orb-weaver spider to get frisky. However, for this gent, mating is a dangerous proposition. The female he wants to woo is ten times his size, not to mention just as likely to make a meal out of him as mate with him.

Luckily, the male orb-weaver is a fairly suave guy and knows a smooth technique to putting that lovely lady in the right mood. Before and between bouts of copulation, he climbs atop the massive female's back and spreads silk to and fro in a process known as mate binding. The kinky rubdown works wonders, and -- believe it or not -- can teach us something about ourselves.



Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. I don't spin silk, I don't have eight legs, and I don't eat my partner during or after intercourse. What's this got to do with me?

All of that is true. But like an orb-weaver spider, you do have a back, and you probably have experienced the awesome sensation of having it massaged.

In 2011, researchers examined orb-weavers' mate-binding technique and discovered that it was less the silk spinning and more the back rubbing that put the females in the mood. A massaging touch works wonders apparently.

The same is true for humans. Back rubs, and most other forms of massage, feel freakin' amazing. But why is this precisely?

Surprisingly, there hasn't been a lot of research conducted which examines the mechanism for massage's euphoric, relaxing effects. (Why risk ruining something so bliss-inducing, I suppose?) Scientists have, however, put forth a variety of suppositions.

In 1965, Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall theorized that massage reduces feelings of pain because pressure placed on muscles (via rubbing, for example) creates a barrier that interferes with the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

shutterstock_92299765.jpgMore recently, attention has been paid to the notion that massage influences the recipient's body chemistry. For example, it's been posited that muscle manipulations may stimulate a release of endorphins -- neurotransmitters that promote well being and induce analgesia.

Last year, researchers at UC - San Diego examined the affect of a fifteen-minute back massage on hormone levels in the body. The participants who received a back rub were found to have significantly higher levels of oxytocin compared with control subjects who merely rested quietly. The hormone is known to evoke feelings of contentment and alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.  Additionally, the researchers found that levels of corticotropin, a hormone associated with biological stress, were reduced. Contrary to the earlier mentioned endorphin theory, they also discovered that the experimental group had lower levels of beta-endorphins.

Regardless of the why or how, a good back rub is always an effective antidote for everyday ailments, and it's a fabulous aphrodisiac for spiders and humans alike.

(Image: Massage via Shutterstock)

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