Muscle tension, stress and anxiety can be the precursor to many conditions, like chronic muscle pain, high blood pressure/hypertension, overuse injuries, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, compromised immune system and obesity. Massage therapy with its many modalities can help prevent and relieve these conditions or minimize symptoms of them.
Neglected muscle tension can result in chronic pain and/or overuse injuries like torn or strained muscles. It can be from sitting for long periods of time at a computer or a long rush hour commute, standing at work for numerous hours, repetitive work related motions throughout your career, or overuse from sports and exercise. These can all result in a sore, achy and painful neck, shoulders, hips and low back. The muscles become shortened giving that tight sensation, they accumulate metabolic waste and toxins, become knotted with loss of range of motion and become susceptible to pain and injury.
Stress, a natural response of the body, is actually a beneficial process. When the body is presented with a stressor or is experiencing anxiety, there is a release of chemicals and hormones that increase heart rate and respiration (breathing), reduces blood flow to the digestive system and increases blood glucose (sugar in the blood). This is what is known as the “Flight or Fight Response.” The body is designed to respond to stress this way but it does not distinguish different types of stress. For example, the body does not know the difference between being chased by a bear, losing a loved one, beating a deadline for a work project or even riding a roller coaster. It is going to respond to all of these events with the flight or fight response.
Once the stressor is removed, the body is then designed to re-balance itself to normal functioning. The problems arise and health conditions begin to appear when one is constantly stressed. This may be driving daily in rush hour traffic, running kids around to a number of activities and having to make dinner while completing a project for work, a death in the family, going through a divorce and training for a specific sport.
When a number of these are present at the same time or even one for an extended amount of time, there is no return to balance for the body and all the systems of the body becomes compromised and gets sick.
There are a number of massage therapy modalities that can contribute to the decrease of muscle tension, stress and anxiety. Some of the more common approaches used by massage therapists are Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue and Myafascial Release. All of which can provide decreased muscle tension, increase blood circulation and support relaxation while decreasing stress physically and mentally.
The types of massage presented here are only a few of the many modalities used by therapists today. There a many more which also require advanced education and training. Some of those include Shiatsu, Reflexology, Rolfing, and Fertility Massage. These special modalities can be beneficial for a number of conditions as well. Before a massage session, the massage therapist will discuss with you your current and past health, your preferences and any contraindications and then they can personalize the session in order to minimize risk as well as relieve symptoms of certain conditions by allowing your mind and body to experience the balance it needs.