Massage Therapy provides benefits for your body, mind, and soul. Over time our daily routine creates problems, whether because we are moving too much, too little, or in ways that hurt more than they help. Our life further weighs us down by locking us into position, both literally and metaphorically. The body and mind are linked, and when our minds carry too much at once, it affects us physically as much as it does mentally. Thus, finding ways to ease your mental and emotional burdens can go a long way toward improving how you feel every day.
Stress is not always, automatically a bad thing. It is what allows us to rise to certain occasions,whether getting ready for a big presentation or fending off an attacker. When you feel yourself tensing up, you are feeling your body preparing itself instinctively to respond to a stimulus or threat. Without the jolt of adrenaline you feel, you would not get the burst of strength or energy from which you benefit in those key moments.
The healthy body is not one that does not feel stress. Rather, it is one that recovers quickly and returns to a state of calmness and tranquility. Massage therapy provides an excellent way to help you reach this point. Your treatment includes relaxation techniques and physical, mental,and emotional practices to help you reach a point where you feel more calm, more energetic,and more ready to do the things you need and want to do. And if you receive massage therapy treatment regularly, the benefits will build with each session to help you become the best version of yourself that you can be.
Lessening the Impact on Your Muscular System
People carry their stress in different places. Some feel it in their heads, some in their backs,some in their chests. In any of these cases, though, the source of that pain is similar: the muscles tighten to a point of discomfort. You start to find it difficult to move, or in extreme examples even to breathe. If you do not find a way to relieve the muscular symptoms of stress, the tension turns into discomfort and pain over time. Your muscle tension starts to become not just a symptom of your stress, but a cause that builds a cycle from which it becomes more and more difficult to escape.
Massage therapy helps you break that cycle down. Your therapist will work with you to begin to loosen the muscles and restore blood flow that may be slowed down when it is tight. The techniques vary depending on the extent of strain and damage you have experienced.
Sometimes a lighter pressure and rubbing brings you back to where you need to be, while other times more intense, deep tissue pressure does more to push you toward recovery.This also changes depending on the part of your body most affected by the muscle tension, as some muscle groups require a gentler touch than others. Your back, for example, requires a firmer pressure than your facial muscles, based on the size and structure of each. Further,relaxation techniques including lower light, aromatherapy, and use of warm oils can enhance
your ability to relax and let the massage therapy work reach its maximum effectiveness.Finally, while stress is universal, the way you respond and manifest it physically can vary widely.In addition, your fitness level, tactile sensitivity, and body composition affect how well you respond to different techniques. Your therapist will develop an approach that serves your needs well, sometimes combining different strategies to meet your individual needs. Your initial discussion with the therapist provides a starting point, but communication throughout the process can help you find the most effective relief.
Improving the Ways Your Body Works
Stress impacts the way your muscles feel, but this is only the most obvious of many deleterious effects stress creates over time. You usually feel the muscular discomfort it creates; you may be less likely to notice early signs that it in fact affects almost every major system in your body. By the time you notice these concerns arising, it may be moving toward a point at which your health is in serious danger.
Stress has been demonstrated to hamper the performance of several of your body’s basic
- Cardiovascular system (blood pressure and the flow of blood through your body)
- Nervous system (your thought processes and tactile sensitivity)
- Lymphatic system (flushing and drainage of toxins from your body)
- Reproductive system (both ability to perform sexually and to reproduce)
- Endocrine system (regulation of blood sugar levels in your body)
- Immune system (the ability of your body to fight illnesses and infections)
- Digestive system (interest in eating and ability to process and remove waste)
In other words, just about everything your body does for you can be harmed by elevated stress levels over time! The longer you let it go without doing something to decrease your stress, the more danger you place yourself in.
Like muscular issues, the problems you experience with your body’s basic functions becomes cyclical over time: symptoms of high stress circle around to become self-perpetuating causes offurther stress. If your stress leads to an ulcer in your stomach, for example, the pain and discomfort puts your body under further stress, and your levels rise quickly. Similarly, high blood pressure both comes from stress and causes additional stress. The mild discomfort you feel can drive all too quickly to the point of a heart condition—which also will not help you bring your stress back under control!
The good news in all of this is that Massage Therapy has been demonstrated to help with every one of these areas of concern. It helps your body release calming hormones: endorphins,serotonin, and dopamine. It further helps lower the levels of cortisol and insulin, both of which are associated with high stress. It thus provides a chemical response in your body that helps you relax and feel more like yourself.
As the chemical response to massage therapy occurs, you start to feel more physically relaxed.This in turn brings around benefits throughout your body. Your heart rate slows and your blood pressure goes down. Your lymphatic system flushes more bad chemicals out of your body. Your blood sugar drops, your mind clears, and your sex drive returns. Your therapist slowly, methodically removes the impediments that stress has built to your good health.
This may not all happen immediately; your body changes over time, in both positive and negative directions. Still, most people report immediate improvement in one or more of the areas they are suffering, and setting up regular treatments can do wonders to help you build over time on the benefits you receive.
Helping You Feel Better Overall
Not all of the manifestations of high stress are physical. Your mental and emotional health can suffer over time as well. If you think about a typical work week, you often start the week in a particular frame of mind, whether it is relaxed and refreshed from the weekend or anxious or excited for what lies ahead. Over the course of a particularly hard week, though, your mood changes. You become more anxious, more on edge. You may find your temper rising more quickly and your sense of optimism diminishing. By the end of the week, you might feel like a completely different person from the one who began on Monday morning.
This, too, comes from stress. A rush of adrenaline to meet a task or situation head-on can be a wonderful thing, but having those chemicals build over time without the regular ebbs and flows your body needs to experience can create intense, sometimes very difficult mood changes and emotional shifts. If you listen to great music, or read a great novel, you can think of the movement through as a series of tensions and releases. You need the release to feel good about the tension, the consonance to resolve the dissonance. So too is everyday life. Challenges and moments of stress are not in themselves bad, but if you only build without ever letting go,you soon start to struggle emotionally and mentally.
Massage therapy can provide the release that you need to keep going in these circumstances.Your massage experience immediately takes you away from the struggle; you turn off your phone, you listen to soothing music or sounds, you dim the lights, and you slip into a space designed to be comfortable for you. During your appointment, the focus shifts from the myriad distractions and responsibilities and concerns you face during your day, and on to making you feel better. When you take this opportunity to let go and take care of yourself, you soon find that the emotional burdens under which you have been straining pull back. Your body and your mind are almost instantly better for it.
Helping the People Around You
The individual focus of your Massage Therapy need not make you feel selfish, though. In fact,the longer you struggle under the impact of high stress, the more those who depend on you suffer. Your ability to focus directly impacts the quality and the quantity of the work you are able to perform. As stress takes a greater hold on you, your work and home lives suffer more.
You are unable to give the attention or the affection that others need and crave from you. You may be able to fake it for a while, but the truth is, those who depend on you every day notice when something is missing. Even the best repressors among us can’t hide it when stress is affecting so much of our daily lives!
The danger here is that most people underestimate the negative effects of stress in our lives. We believe we are handling it, or that if we just get through the next obstacle in front of us, it will all be better soon. This would be a wonderful, beautiful thing, but life tends not to work so cleanly. When the obstacle we have prepared for finally goes away, we find we then need to address another that we didn’t even see until that one disappeared. We meet a deadline, and
we immediately find another; we pay off a debt, and immediately must pay for something else.Life does not stop moving forward to wait for us to recover. And the people who need us don’t stop needing us until we are ready to give again.
Massage therapy thus provides you with a respite that does much more than help you. Rather than trying to stretch yourself thinner and thinner for weeks or months or years on end, it givesyou a little time to decompress and recover, and then to step back into life ready to meet your responsibilities and expectations. Your therapist will help you clear your mind, and push out some of the stresses under which you have been struggling. You will feel better, stronger, and often even taller.
All of these benefits become visible to those with whom you interact every day. Your boss, employees, coworkers, and family members notice more than you realize. When you feel better, it carries through in the way you speak and act around them. When your fuse is longer and your affection more open, everyone benefits. Your massage therapy session helps you feel better yourself, and make everyone around you feel better in the process.
Building Benefits Over Time
Every session you attend gives you part of yourself back. When you come out of your firstmassage therapy treatment, you likely feel ready to conquer the world. Your muscles may ache for a day from the initial treatment, but soon will feel better than they ever have before. You will be thinking more clearly, and your blood will be pumping more freely. Some tasks that may have seemed impossible will fly by more easily than you could have ever imagined, much less expected. You will feel great, and everyone around you will probably notice.
Unfortunately, just as the world does not stop to wait for you to feel better, it will not stop to let you bask in the afterglow when you do. Stress comes to help you meet challenges and face obstacles; those challenges and obstacles don’t stop coming for you just because you’ve
pushed off the stress of the previous ones. The impervious feeling you may have in the days after a massage don’t necessarily carry through for weeks or months on end. Stress comes back, and it comes back with a vengeance.But you can plan to prevent life from overwhelming you again. When you schedule regular massage therapy treatment sessions, you essentially create a battle plan to deal with stress over time. Instead of letting it build up until you ache under the power it holds over you,
schedule another session in two to four weeks after your current one. Lay out a plan to receive treatment at regular intervals. Like the author or composer who created the book or music you enjoy, write out the release that makes the tension worth it. Each session will help you unload the burden you face.
The benefits of regular massage sessions, though, are greater than the sum of those from each individual treatment. They accumulate and build exponentially. Part of this is simple psychology: when you have a point to which you can look forward, it makes it easier to work through what lies in between. You can relieve yourself a little just by knowing the point of release is coming soon.
In addition, though, you gain the benefit of having less to unburden at each session. Think of each stressful moment as adding a rock for you to carry. If you add a rock every day for three months, you must struggle over substantially more weight in that third month than you would if you dump the rocks and start over at the beginning of each month. Regular sessions keep you from getting to those breaking points; they reduce the stress impact that you allow your body to receive by holding off until you can’t take it anymore. Over time, the difference can be staggering.
Just as changing your oil every three months is better than getting a new engine after a year, so treating massage therapy as regular maintenance is much better than using it as emergency stress relief. It provides a way to take care of yourself over time, rather than letting yourself get to the point where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally hurting. In addition, the more your therapist gets to know you and how your body reacts and responds to treatment, the more effective each session can be.
At Versatile Vitality, we want to deliver the best, most effective, and most relaxing massage therapy treatment you can receive. When we work regularly with you, you will see positive results that make you feel better and better over time. Call today to schedule an appointment!
Need a massage for stress relief? To schedule a Massage Therapy appointment, contact Versatile Vitality - (303) 668-9267. We can come to you and provide the appropriate treatment to help you to relax.