After receiving a therapeutic massage our bodies may be able to start to heal and repair themselves. To explain this I will point out some massage therapy benefits first.
Massage can improve both superficial and deep blood circulation and stimulate lymphatic fluid flow and lymph nodes. Just a simple relaxing touch can positively affect our nervous system and endocrine system, helping to re-balance our hormones in our bodies. Massage can help to soothe muscular tension, improve pain-free joint movement and other musculoskeletal pains caused by postural inbalances or injuries. Particular massage techniques may positively affect our whole body and all its systems. Massage can affect the way we feel mentally too, body and mind goes hand in hand.
So how does massage activate self-healing?
Everything in our body is connected, one thing affects the other. This is one reason why I like to look at the person as a whole, not just treating a small area in the body where there is a pain. Let’s start with the physical body. By manipulating the soft tissues we can improve the fluid flow to all areas, where the circulation might be usually very poor, bring more oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood to the muscles, joints and organs, and help to move unwanted matter to the lymph nodes where it can be destroyed. Our body is controlled by our brain which sends signals to all parts of our body through the nervous system and endocrine system – hormonal glands. Hormonal glands release hormones and control our organs’ functions.
Stress is often our main enemy and can stop our body from functioning and repairing the way it should be, causing illnesses and complications. When we are undergoing a stressful event, our body will respond by going into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This is essential for our body if we need to ‘fight’ or ‘run’ but what happens if we are under constant stress?
When under stress our sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system, activates the ‘fight or flight’ response and our brain send signals to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. This allows us to get better focus and act faster and physically prepares us for action. Body systems which don’t play important role in survival, such as digestive system, urinary system and reproductive system are slowed down or shut down, and blood can drain away from the skin. Also, the respiratory system may speed up, heart rate increase, blood pressure increase, the liver produce more glucose, blood sugar for instant energy and muscle tone increases.
Chronic stress will slowly drain our body and can cause many complications or diseases affecting any of the body systems. It can even contribute towards a heart attack or stroke.
After the acute stress passes our parasympathetic nervous system will help us to slow down and return our bodily functions back to normal, in the same way the sympathetic nervous system speeds things up.
Understanding of stress, chronic stress, stress prevention and stress management is very important. We need to be aware of the causes of stress in our life and try to eliminate it as much as possible.
Massage therapy is a great tool on the way to recovery from chronic or acute stress. The
parasympathetic nervous system can be activated by gentle, soothing touch, slow deep breathing, and will bring blood, oxygen and nutrients back to all our body systems, release muscular tension and create an overall feeling of wellbeing. This will bring our body and mind back into balance and get our body ready to start to repair and heal itself.
Blog written by Natalia Vrchovska