Massage Therapy for Stress Relief & Health Enhancement
January 04, 2018
Are you under a lot of stress? Have you tried numerous approaches to relieve anxiety, medical and natural, without results?
If so, it’s a good time to check out massage. Massage treatments elevate mood, soothe tension, and even ease pain.
Massage therapy provides therapeutic touch, something all beings need but is often missing from modern medical care.
Massage therapy has been used successfully for relaxation and body balance for thousands of years.
It offers health benefits for almost everyone- men, women, children, even pets.
Today, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence, which confirms massage therapy’s advantages are profound and health restorative.
How Does Massage Work?
Here are just a few of massage therapy’s benefits:
- Massage relaxes the muscles, relieving contractions and spasms caused by stress or injury. Massage helps release nerve compression- a common trigger of chronic pain.
- According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, massage stimulates the release of endorphins, which ease pain. Massage is widely used with success for fibromyalgia, arthritis, headaches, low back pain, sciatica, TMJ, and spinal nerve problems. Massage also decreases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines involved in the pain response.
- Massage is clinically shown to boost levels of body chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, known to counteract depression and anxiety.
- Massage therapy is often godsend for relief of insomnia caused by stress.
- Massage promotes natural detoxification, stimulating lymphatic system drainage, normal elimination through the colon bowel system, and healthy circulation.
- Massage aids posture problems, caused by injuries or curvature of the spine.
- Massage encourages faster recovery from exercise, fighting fatigue and promoting tissue repair.
- Massage helps to break up and eliminate scar tissue and adhesions involved in blockages, injuries, and surgery recovery.
- Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows regular massage could add as many as 6 years to your total lifespan by lowering high blood pressure!
Popular, Effective Massage Therapy Techniques
A massage can range from highly relaxing to slightly energizing. There are so many types of therapeutic massage to choose from. Here’s a small sampling:
Swedish massage applies firm but gentle strokes on all the large muscle groups to promote the body’s relaxation response.
It’s a great starter technique for people who are curious about massage.
It works fast to calm mental stress and is ideal for people who prefer light pressure.
Deep tissue massage
This technique applies strong, direct pressure on the deep muscle layers to release tension in trouble spots causing nerve compression and pain.
Deep tissue massage is commonly used for fibromyalgia, low back pain, sciatica, even tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis.
Myofascial release applies sustained pressure to strengthen and lengthen the connective tissue (fascia).
Unlike other techniques, it’s performed without massage oil, allowing the therapist to better manipulate and soften the tissue in the fascia.
Similar to deep tissue massage, myofascial release is excellent for nerve impingement, injuries, and chronic pain disorders.
Lymphatic massage applies light pressure along the structure of the lymphatic system to help move toxins, fluid, and wastes out of the body.
It’s the treatment of choice for lymphedema caused by cancer surgery.
Lymphatic massage is also popular used alongside body cleanses. It helps decrease cellulite, improve immune response, and has a slightly energizing effect.
Craniosacral treatments use light contact and pressure on key points on the head, torso, knees, and feet to help remove obstructions (especially in the spinal fluid) and improve body functioning.
It’s a good choice to improve nervous system health from trauma, and decrease the frequency of migraine headaches.
When to Avoid Massage
While most situations benefit from massage, there are times when it’s wise to skip it.
Avoid massage therapy if you have a high fever, active infection, or malignant tumor.
If you have cancer, oncology massage is a good option. Oncology massage provides the relaxation and benefits of massage while taking protective measures to avoid aggravating tumors.
Take Advantage of the Healing Power of Touch
I highly recommend the therapeutic massage to reduce the effects of stress on your health.
A skilled massage therapist will always be able to tell if you’re tense or anxious. Your body can’t lie during a massage.
Regular sessions can find and release stress in your body that could otherwise make you sick. It’s possible that therapeutic massage could even add years to your life!
- Bakalar, N. (2012, Feb.). How massage heals sore muscles. Retrieved from The New York Times, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/how-massage-heals-sore-muscles?mcubz0
- Craniosacral therapy. (2016). Retrieved from University of Minnesota Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing, https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/craniosacral-therapy
- Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (Oct., 2005). Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(10),1397-413. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16162447
- How does massage work? (2016). Retrieved from University of Minnesota Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing, https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-does-massage-work
- Kecskes, A. (2014, Aug.). Neurohormonal effects of massage therapy. Retrieved from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/11/08/neurohormonal-effects-massage-therapy
- Lymphatic Massage Therapy. (2017). Retrieved from Dr. Weil, https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/wellness-therapies/lymphatic-massage-therapy/
- Mair, K. (2017, July). The difference between myofascial release and massage therapy. Retrieved from Livestrong, http://www.livestrong.com/article/541091-the-difference-between-myofascial-release-massage-therapy/
- Page, L. & Abernathy, S. (2012). Healthy Healing 14th Edition. Healthy Healing Publications.
- What is oncology massage? (2007-2016). Retrieved from Society for Oncology Massage, http://www.s4om.org/oncology-massage-overview