Stress Relief – Massage Therapy

Stress Relief – Massage Therapy

There are many reasons people might seek out massage therapy, but stress relief tends to be the most popular. In general, stress is anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being. Associated with both minor and major health ailments, relieving stress is an important component of maintaining emotional and physical well-being. Plenty of research has found that massage therapy is an ideal stress relief tool, but some massage techniques are better at achieving this goal than others.

Designed as a survival tool, stress activates the body’s fight-or-flight response. This occurs when the sympathetic nervous system responds to stress by producing large quantities of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. These chemicals trigger a quicker heart rate, muscular tension, sweating and alertness to help protect us from danger – enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations.

Unfortunately, this fight-or-flight response can be triggered by non life-threatening events and it can become chronic. Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Research suggests that prolonged stress contributes to:

  • high blood pressure
  • promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits
  • causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction
  • obesity
  • insulin dependence

Going above and beyond nature’s call to shield ourselves from danger, an estimated 75 percent of Americans experience significant levels of stress. According to the annual stress survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association:

  • About 25 percent of Americans are experiencing high levels of stress (rating their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale).
  • About 50 percent of Americans report moderate levels of stress (a score of 4 to 7 out of 10).

Accordingly, there is a great need for effective stress relief methods. Many studies have demonstrated that massage therapy is an effective stress relieving modality as evidenced by reductions in cortisol, adrenaline, and nor-adrenaline. One example was recorded by Mayo Clinic researchers in a study published in a November 2012 edition of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Not surprisingly, weekly 15-minute chair massages for nurses during work hours significantly reduced stress-related symptoms.
With so many modalities utilized by massage therapists, those seeking help with their stress levels may have difficulty choosing from a menu of massage styles. To help determine what type of bodywork to pick, the top four massage modalities for stress relief are listed below:

  1. Swedish Massage – The most common type of massage, Swedish massage uses a variety of motions to decompress muscle tissue, release tension and break up muscular knots. The strokes used in Swedish massage are percussion, shaking, long strokes, vibration, kneading, and friction, which enhances blood circulation, stretches tendons, lowers blood pressure and induces relaxation. However, the long, smooth, gliding strokes are typically regarded as the most relaxing component of a Swedish massage.
  2. Head Massage – Bodywork focusing on the cranium is a known stress reliever. There are thin muscles on the scalp that can hold a great deal of tension. Besides including massage of the scalp within a Swedish massage session, the traditional Ayuverdic head oil massage known as champi is an especially relaxing treatment.
  3. Aromatherapy Massage – By adding essential oils to massage oil or lotion, aromatherapy massage can be a powerful way to de-stress. The nostrils are attached to the limbic system, an area of the brain that controls emotions and influences the nervous system and hormones. As such, inhalation of the essential oil molecules can directly influence physiological and emotional components of stress. The oils most known for their relaxation effect include geranium, lavender, and chamomile.
  4. Auricular Acupressure – Considered a microsystem for the entire body, the ear is compared to an inverted fetus; with the head on the lower ear lobe, the feet at the top of the ear, and the rest of the body in-between. Containing several hundred pressure points, massaging the ear in the area corresponding to the central nervous system encourages the release of endorphins – the body’s natural stress-relieving hormones.

Chronic stress is rampant and can be reduced with massage therapy. Unless under an immediate threat, the fight-or-flight stress response is not wanted – and ends up creating more problems than it solves. With such a high percentage of Americans burdened by significant stress levels, massage therapists should be in high demand. By offering Swedish massage, head massage, aromatherapy massage and auricular acupressure, bodyworkers will be highly effective at melting their clients’ stress away.

Why Deep-Tissue Massage?

Why Deep-Tissue Massage?

massage-389716_1920If you’ve never had a deep-tissue massage, you may be wondering why you would choose this particular type of therapy. It can be a little uncomfortable as opposed to other types of massages such as a Swedish massage, so what are the benefits?

During a deep-tissue massage, a therapist will concentrate on deeper layers of the muscle. By using firm pressure and deeper strokes, the therapist stimulates blood flow and reduces inflammation, creating a viable treatment option for a variety of ailments.

Reduces Pain

Perhaps the most common condition deep-tissue massage is sought to relieve is chronic pain. Because inflammation is the source of most pain, this type of treatment can prove very effective. Loosening tightened muscles that often accompany the pain also helps to alleviate tension and strain.

Alleviates Depression

Often depression accompanies chronic pain, and deep-tissue massage will stimulate release of hormones that will positively affect the brain. Although most any type of massage will help with symptoms of depression, deep-tissue massage is thought to be most effective.

Improves the Appearance of Scars

Over time, deep tissue massage can effectively break down scar tissue and cause it to disintegrate entirely. If the scar tissue is internal, a deep-tissue massage will help to loosen the tissue to improve stiffness and pain.

Speeds Recovery

Because it does aid in the breaking down of scar tissue, it’s a much-recommended therapy for patients after surgery. It also stimulates lymphatic production, further improving flexibility and eliminating toxins from the body, aiding in quick recovery and rehabilitation. For this reason, it’s a popular treatment among body builders to speed muscle recovery times and prevent injury.

Alleviates Repetitive Strain Injury

Painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved or prevented altogether with consistent deep tissue massage.

In Conclusion

All types of massage will benefit your body in some way, but deep-tissue massage is most recommended for the conditions listed above. For questions about what type of massage is right for you, feel free to give us a call. We can custom tailor a treatment plan to fit your particular needs.

Massage Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

Massage Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

People often turn to massage therapy to relieve stress because they realize the effects of releasing muscle tension and taking time to pamper their bodies. But what they may not realize is that there are physiological reasons that massage relieves stress. And these are the same reasons that massage can decrease depression.

In 1996, a study was conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine to determine the effects of massage therapy on anxiety. In this study, a group of adults were given chair massages for 15 minutes, 2 times a week.

Tests performed on the subjects showed increased frontal delta waves, proving relaxation, and decreased alpha and beta waves, suggesting a decrease in anxious thoughts.

At the end of the study, which lasted 5 weeks, the group’s depression scores were much lower than they were at the beginning.

There are a couple of reasons massage therapy is useful in treating more than muscle tension.

A main factor in anxiety is cortisol. Cortisol is released for various reasons, but when your stress increases, so do your cortisol levels. And when your cortisol levels increase, so does your stress.

See why stress is such a vicious cycle?

Massage therapy is beneficial to getting you off the cycle by decreasing cortisol levels. Once the cortisol levels are down, your body starts to naturally become more relaxed.

The other thing massage does is encourage your body to release oxytocin and endorphins. Both of these natural “feel-good” chemicals lead your body into a relaxed state of euphoria.

It’s a little known fact that before all the drugs for depression were so freely distributed, massage therapy was a common treatment for the disorder. This generation seems to be catching on to the benefits of natural treatment and seeking ways to treat disorders with fewer drugs.

While you should never stop taking a prescription without the advice of a physician, massage therapy should be a treatment that you add to your regime in order to enhance your overall well-being.

Call us today to book your massage, and get yourself back on track to a healthier outlook on life!

 

 

Sleep Benefits of Massage Therapy

Sleep Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy for InsomniaDo you have trouble falling and staying asleep? Do you find yourself staring at the clock half the night and wondering what it would be like to catch a solid 8 hours of z’s?

If so, you’re not alone. One out of every ten people on this planet reportedly take prescription sleep aids to combat their sleep problems.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that lack of sleep causes increased anxiety and moodiness, but did you also know that it can affect your health?

When our bodies are deprived of the rest they need, hormones become unbalanced and blood pressure increases causing possible health problems such as cardiovascular issues and diabetes. These issues themselves, ironically, also lead to sleep problems.

It’s a vicious cycle!

Pinpointing the cause could be helpful in controlling the problem, but there is one natural solution that could very possibly help you to sleep no matter what the reason.

Massage therapy.

Getting regular massages can help with most issues causing you unrest.

For Insomnia Caused by Chronic Pain

If pain is what is keeping you up all hours, massage therapy could definitely be your solution. Most chronic pain is either muscle or nerve related, and massage therapy helps to alleviate both. Regular massages will help to relax your muscles, thereby helping your body achieve a natural alignment, reducing most nerve pain.

For Insomnia Caused by Stress

Massage causes your body to release serotonin to the brain which is a natural anti-depressant. This combined with the relaxation factor of the massage, puts your body and mind into a more natural state of euphoria, lowering stress levels significantly.

For Insomnia Caused by Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are tricky. Any area of unbalance in the body can cause fluctuations that can cause weight gain, hair loss, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and a whole host of other affliction. Massage therapy is shown to aid the body in releasing certain hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, triggering emotions in the brain that cause a more relaxed environment for the entire body. Relieving stress alone can stabilize many hormone deficiencies.

Don’t let another sleepless night plague your health and your emotions. Book a massage today and let us help you to achieve a more natural state of relaxation!