Using Massage Therapy to Combat the Effects of Stress

Massage therapy is usually synonymous with pampering. It is something that someone gives as a gift for your birthday or mother’s day; something that represents a luxury, an “extra” in your life. But few understand that the right massage actually has many health benefits and should be included as part of your usual health regimen. When administered by a licensed practitioner, a therapeutic massage may help with conditions that affect your overall well being, the main one of these being stress.

Stress is your body’s response to a physical or emotional demand. Everyone experiences increased stress levels from time to time.It is a completely normal bodily manifestation that we as humans learn to deal with over the course of our lives. Biologically, it’s important because it has allowed us to survive and evolve as organisms throughout the ages. However, continuous,long term stress caused by mundane reasons such as family, work, or financial concerns cause the body to be at a heightened state of constant anxiety.This persistent state of stress can have negative effects on many organ systems including the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and even the reproductive system.Because of these effects, it’s important to engage in activities such as massage therapy which help decrease the overall effects of stress on the body.

Massage Therapy to increase muscle relaxation

Muscles tense up in response to stress. Usually, muscles will relax once the stressor is gone; nevertheless, if stress occurs in a prolonged steady state, then muscles tend to stay in a somewhat tensed state over that same period of time. This is not the natural state of muscle so the maintained tense state may lead to maladies such as headaches, joint pains, chronic back pain and neck pain among other symptoms. Massage therapy can be key in alleviating these symptoms when they happen. A massage therapist relieves muscle tension using various techniques. By rubbing, stretching or applying pressure to the muscles, therapy helps to return muscles a relaxed states. This, in turn, helps to alleviate the associated pain and gives a you better feeling of well being.

Massage Therapy to Increase Immunity

The body naturally conserves energy during times of stress. It does this mainly by suppressing the functions of certain systems that it deems less important to help “fend off” whatever is stressing it at the moment. It also increases the function of those that it believes it will need to survive. For example, heart and lungs circulation increases, but decreases to the digestive and immune systems. With chronic stress, this process can end up causing a decrease in immune system activity for prolonged periods of time, meaning that you are at increased risk for getting colds, flus and other diseases. A massage can help alleviate this effect by helping to restore normal circulation. Once this is achieved, immune cells can resume normal function and travel to necessary areas in the body, improving immune system activity.

Alternative Treatment to Help cope with Pain

Chronic illnesses can act as a source of stress in the body as well. Therapeutic massages can be helpful in coping with the symptoms of various diseases. It is important to keep in mind that it is not a cure to the disease. Instead, it is a complementary therapy that works in conjunction with other medical therapies and that one should seek medical help if the pain is too severe or does not go away. Also, always tell your doctor that you are seeking other coping mechanisms to deal with your symptoms since there have been cases where massage is not a recommended form of therapy. Also, always tell your doctor that you are seeking other coping mechanisms to deal with your symptoms since there have been cases where massage is not a recommended form of therapy.

There are many studies of the benefits of therapeutic massages and they demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of undergoing massage treatments, some studies have found it may also be helpful for digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, sport injuries, and temporomandibular joint pain to mention a few.

Regardless of the need of more research, the benefits of this type of therapy are not theoretical. Studies conducted on massage therapies such as deep tissues, Swedish, and light touch massage have found that a single session of therapy can cause these positive biological changes discussed above in the body: increase muscle relaxation, immunity and coping with pain. Essentially, massages actually initiates biological processes that help correct the internal imbalances caused by prolonged stress. The changes eventually lead to health benefits. Massage therapy, then, can act as a potent refresher that can relieve the body of some the effects of everyday stress.

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