The benefits of massage are numerous and it affects our body on many levels.
Relieves pain, pumps oxygen and nutrients to tissues and vital organs through increased circulation, reduces post-injury (or post-surgery) swelling and adhesions, enhances immunity, reduces scar tissue, promotes relaxation and a sense of calm and wellbeing, reduces frequency and intensity of headaches including migraines, helps prepare for and recover from workouts, reduces anxiety, improves quality of sleep, lowers blood pressure, lowers stress hormones and their negative effects.
Many people live with chronic pain, either intermittent or constant. Western medicine has developed many drugs and other interventions such as surgery, injections, and nerve cauterization to alleviate pain. However many people find limited success with these interventions- they are intrusive, often temporary, and do not address the root cause of the pain. Massage is a natural way to decrease and often eliminate pain. Massage therapists are trained to look at the body as a whole and determine the source of the problem. Most commonly there are postural issues that, if addressed, will lead to decreased pain. Injuries of varying kinds are another common source of pain. The initial injury and resultant pain often lead to a series of compensation patterns that serve to set unhealthy patterns of movement and posture into our daily activities. Massage in the early stages of an injury can help speed recovery and limit the compensation patterns that can lead to chronic pain. If the injury is old massage can still help by correcting the unhealthy patterns that were developed due to the initial event. Massage also causes the body to release dopamine and endorphins, the body’s natural pain relieving and feel-good chemicals, thereby often decreasing the need for pain relieving medication.
There is no denying that modern life is very stressful. The effects of chronic, high and low-level stress are subtle in their onset but disastrous in their outcome. Stress is a natural, healthy response. It is designed to protect us from danger. However, modern life prevents us from activating our natural reactions. We have all heard of the fight or flight response (though for many this is also the “freeze” response). During a stressful event various chemicals are released by the body that ready us to respond to the threat but when the “threat” is being late for work, bad drivers, or a misbehaving child we must suppress our biological responses and in essence “store” that stress instead of releasing it. This chronic stress leads to faster aging (at the level of the DNA), suppression of digestion and cell repair, faster heart rate and higher blood pressure. The long term effects are often chronic disease states. The CDC has estimated that 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress related illness. Massage is maintenance for stressful times. It allows you a time of no stress, of total focus on you, your wellbeing, and your healing. It also releases mood enhancing chemicals in the body such as serotonin and dopamine, and decreases the amount of cortisol in the blood, all of which help mitigate the negative effects of stress. Massage can also improve both the quality and quantity of sleep helping give your body the down time needed to refuel.
Whether you are a weekend warrior or a dedicated athlete, it is essential to maintain optimum health in the soft tissues of the body. When muscles are too tight or if there is an imbalance you become more prone to injury. Even if you are still young and healthy, it is much easier to maintain health than to regain it once there is a problem. Massage can help by identifying and correcting imbalances either in strength or posture before any negative effects are noticed. It keeps muscles soft and flexible, tendons and ligaments elastic, and joints properly aligned. It also improves blood, oxygen, and nutrient flow to tissues and speeds recovery time from workouts. Specific massage is also available for pre and post event treatment to optimize muscle performance and recovery.
But I’m already healthy, and I don’t suffer from pain…
GREAT! That makes you an ideal candidate for massage. You already know what health and balance are, and what they feel like in your body. In general people think nothing of getting regular tune-ups or rotating the tires on our cars, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and various other maintenance activities for our houses, yards, and vehicles but when it comes to our most valuable asset, our bodies and our health, we often neglect that this too needs regular maintenance. Though more and more people count massage as essential to their self-care regimen, many still think of it as a luxury. Just because it feels like pampering does not decrease or limit the therapeutic benefits. The effects of massage are cumulative, the more you receive the greater your results will be. Simply taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care speaks volumes, you are telling yourself and your body that health and joy are qualities you value in your life enough that you are willing to nurture and grow them.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is performed with heated basalt stones which are used in addition to the therapist’s hands to warm and soften the tissues of the body. This type of massage is often considered the benchmark of relaxation. Using heated stones and rhythmic motions you are transported to a place of deep relaxation and peace.
Neuromuscular Massage is based on the idea that there are localized areas of tension in the muscle that are unable to release on their own. These areas, known as trigger points, can refer pain to other areas. Neuromuscular massage and trigger point therapy use sustained pressure on these areas to release them, the associated pain patterns, and postural dysfunction.
In reflexology pressure is applied to reflex zones in the feet that correspond to areas of the body. These zones affect the associated parts, glands, and organs of the body.
Myofascial release is the application of gentle, sustained pressure to the connective tissue in order to mobilize the tissue and release restrictions. Fascia forms a continuous sheath that attaches to and supports every structure in the body, from head to toe. A restriction in the fascia can therefore affect even distant areas of the body. Often, if you have failed to get lasting relief from pain with other forms of massage it is because the fascial restrictions remain.