Massage is a fast growing integral part of health and well-being
The medical profession is now fully recognising that body massage can be used as part of healthcare. Research continues to highlight the numerous benefits to therapeutic massage from treatment of illness, chronic disease and injuries, to helping the body respond and deal with all the problems associated with modern life.
People of all ages and lifestyles can benefit greatly from adding massage therapy to their routine. Massage not only feels good, it provides major benefits across many areas such as:
1. Helps improve blood circulation flow which will ensure plenty of oxygen and nutrients arrive to body tissues and vital organs.
2. Helps break up painful muscle adhesions (knots) and reduce muscular tension. (Deep Tissue Massage)
3. Specialist techniques can help Increase joint flexibility and range of motion as well as help reduce pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis
4. Can help greatly to ease anxiety and depression, providing deep relaxation and can be effective treatment for sleep disorders.
5. Can assist the lymphatic system to function more efficiently, which will boost the body’s natural defence mechanisms. (MLD)
6. Regular body massage can improve the health and condition of the skin.
7. A very useful complimentary therapy to aid in recovery from surgery and illness.
8. Can help all stress based illnesses, such as headaches, stomach disorders etc.
9. Can be used for reducing the visible effects of cellulite and helping scar healing time.
10. Regular treatment can lessen medication dependency in life style causing illnesses such as High Blood Pressure.
Effects of Massage on Skin
Improves skin look and quality by improving drainage
Improves skin circulation by vasodilation (widening of surface blood capillaries).
Increases sweat thereby eliminating wastes from the body
Desquamation (removal of surface dead skin cells) is increased making the skin look fresh
Increase skin elasticity
Effects of Massage on the Muscular system
Improves muscle tone by stimulating stretch receptors
Relieves fatigue in muscle tissue by improving drainage and removing lactic acid
Helps prevent formation of adhesion of muscle fibres
Helps reduce the formation of scar tissue
Relaxing on tense tight muscles
Effects of Massage on the Cardiovascular and Lymphatic systems
Increases the blood circulation, thereby improving nutrition and drainage
Creates local erythema (redness) bringing blood to surface of skin
Helps to warm up cold extremities
Generally complements the heart’s function by assisting in circulation
Increases the flow of lymph into and from the lymphatic system
Ensures glands or vessels keep fluid moving through them
Helps detoxification of the body
Stress is any factor that threatens our MENTAL or PHYSICAL well-being. Such factors can be imagined or real. It is not the factor itself that is damaging but the response to it. Some people have very stressful lives but manage stress so that it does not affect them whereas for others even the slightest worry can have damaging consequences. There are two types of stress, POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.
Positive stress is necessary for some people because it helps them perform to the best of their abilities. For example, actors and sports people feel and need stress before a big performance or event and rather than hinder them, this positive stress helps them to concentrate and focus.
Negative stress, however, is any factor which causes us to respond by worrying, panicking or losing our concentration.
How is stress damaging? It has been estimated that stress is the cause of 75% of disease. In prehistoric times, as a response to perceived danger, stress was literally life-saving. If we didn’t feel stress we would not make the effort to get out of the way of danger, or to perform to the best of our abilities to win a sports match or competition. However, in the modern age, if a person feels continually stressed in response to external factors but does nothing either to remove the cause or to respond to it differently, the stress reaction can be damaging. The body remains in a state of alert and this will have a physical effect on the systems concerned.
How can massage help? When the body is stressed it must work harder than usual in order to remain balanced. Hence, stressed people tend to over-use conventional relaxation methods such as drinking and smoking in order to be calm. However, this can have an adverse effect on the body in the long run whereas a holistic treatment such as massage can help induce deep relaxation, helping to remove the pent-up tension of the stress response, without damaging the body. Furthermore, it is easy to forget how deep relaxation feels and many are unaware of how much tension is held in their body. Being relaxed properly by massage enables them to be more aware of tension and how it feels which in turn helps them to release it. Massage also enables the client to avoid stress altogether. When the body is relaxed problems and eventscan seem less daunting so the client will not feel as tense and stressed, which in turn prevents tension building up.
How does massage treat stress and its effects?
Massage treats stress in several ways:
i. it relies on touch, one of the most neglected senses. The touch sustained through massage can boost self-esteem and comfort the lonely or bereaved.
ii. boosts the immune system, which is weakened by constant stress, stimulates circulation and lymphatic system, increases energy levels and induces calm in mind and body it releases endorphins ―happy hormones. Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the body, encourages deeper breathing, lowers heart rate and improves digestion.
iii. it relaxes all the systems of the body which either shut down or speed up when stressed, and thus helps with stress-related conditions such as insomnia, headaches, backache and constipation.
iv. it helps treat depression and symptoms such as low self-esteem by boosting well-being which in turn increases self-worth.
v. it stimulates the body’s natural ability to repair and renew, at cellular level.
Massage for restoring health
Massage is very useful as a rehabilitation treatment after illness. It has been used for this purpose for thousands of years, since the ancient Chinese used amma or massage to maintain health. Illness weakens the mind and body, it can cause anxiety and insecurity, which leads to stress and stress-related illnesses. Furthermore, long periods spent convalescing in bed can cause poor circulation, constipation, loss of muscle tone, stiff and sore joints and skin issues. On a physiological level massage invigorates the body systems, as these may become sluggish or congested, stimulating poor circulation, boosting immunity, helps the body remove toxins, improves skin tone and helps muscles recover their flexibility and strength. Psychologically, it can help the patient feel less anxious and regain a sense of well-being. All treatments should be approved by a GP, particularly after surgery.