Massage Therapy Manages Pain of Chronic Conditions

People with chronic pain often turn to massage therapy to help naturally improve their quality of life. Notes Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida:

“Most people go to massage therapists to reduce pain. There’s a release of serotonin, which is the body’s natural production of anti-pain chemicals. Additionally, an aggravating factor in pain syndromes can be a lack of deep, restorative sleep. Massage is very effective at increasing deep sleep. With more deep sleep, you have less pain.”

Fibromyalgia and arthritis are two chronic pain syndromes that can be positively impacted by massage therapy. In a study of massage therapy for knee osteoarthritis, a group receiving massage therapy for the pain showed significant improvement in pain, stiffness and physical function. They increased their range of motion and reduced the time it took them to walk 50 feet.

In another study, conducted by the Touch Research Institute and funded by Massage Envy, people with arthritis in their wrist and hand reported less pain and greater grip strength after massage therapy. They also had lower anxiety and depressed mood scores.

For people looking to naturally manage their chronic pain, massage therapy can improve quality of life by impacting mood as well as manage the pain. When you live with chronic pain, having a toolbox of strategies you turn to for pain relief is important. Massage can be a powerful tool for relaxing both mind and body.

Benefits of Managing Chronic Pain

  • Increases serotonin, which reduces pain naturally
  • Naturally increases deep sleep
  • Increases range of motion
  • Lowers anxiety and improves mood

Massage Therapy Improves Post-Operative Surgical Rehabilitation

An important aspect of any surgical procedure is the post rehabilitation recovery process. It’s during this process that natural movement is re-learned, and freedom of movement is re-enforced. Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard rehabilitation procedures after surgery.

Spine surgeon Johnny C. Benjamin explains how massage can help promote healing. (excerpt from article)

“Massage is great in helping to bring blood and nutrients to the affected area to repair the soft tissue. Massage also can help break up scar tissue and keep the muscles supple so less scar tissue develops in the first place.”

By increasing circulation while relaxing the muscles, massage can help the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the surgical rehabilitating area(s) to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.

Even when there’s no injury, massage can helps athletes of all levels improve their flexibility and muscle suppleness. Our professional massage therapists can also stretch the muscles in trouble areas, promoting increased flexibility when the body is warm and more elastic.

When you book your massage, request a therapist experienced in sports massage, and ask that special attention be paid to any injured areas.

Benefits of Improved Post-Operative Surgical Rehabilitation

  • Assists the body in pumping more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs
  • Accelerates the surgical recovery process
  • Aids in improving joint movement and flexibility

Massage Therapy Strengthens the Immune System

Regular therapeutic massage sessions provide significant benefits beyond the immediate relaxation we enjoy. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our immune system’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced. So the question is: What are the benefits of massage on immune system?

Clinical studies have indicated that regular massage not only helps alleviate stress, but can naturally increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall. In one study by Gail Ironson, M.D., HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in cells that are viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system.

Benefits of Strengthening the Immune System

  • Increases the body’s natural killer cells
  • Aids in the fight against bacteria and infection
  • Naturally enhances the body’s ability to get nourishment to important areas

I have great discounts for regular massage therapy, give me a call to discuss how you can encourage your immune system to work at its peak performance.

Massage Therapy Relieves Tension Headaches

In the United States alone, more than 60% of the 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic headaches suffer from migraines. The disorder can be debilitating and typically results from high stress levels and/or lack of sleep. So it’s no wonder why so many people want to know how to relieve tension headaches.

Massage has two roles when it comes to treating migraines and tension related headaches:

In a proactive role, massage treatments are performed on a regular basis to help the body maintain an optimal level of relaxation and stress-relief. This approach reduces the chances of migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points.

In a comfort role, massage is done to ease the pressure brought on during a migraine or tension related headache. By focusing on the neck, shoulders, and head, massage can decrease the pain and discomfort brought on by migraine or tension headaches.

A recent study showed that massage therapy recipients exhibited fewer migraines and better sleep quality during the weeks they received massage, and the three weeks following, than did participants that did not receive massage therapy. Another study found that in adults with migraine headaches, massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.

Benefits of Relieving Tension-Related Headaches

  • Decreases occurrences of tension headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms
  • Allows one to maintain a level of relaxation and stress-relief, reducing the chances of stress induced migraines
  • Massage for headaches can also reduce muscle spasms and trigger points

Promote Deeper and Easier Breathing

One of the telltale signs of anxiety and stress can be constricted breathing. When the body starts to take shallow short breaths instead of breathing at a natural pace, it is near impossible for one to reach a relaxed state. Part of the problem is that the muscles around the rib cage and abdomen may have tightened, constricting air.

Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax and help improve breathing. Respiratory issues, such as allergies, sinus problems, asthma and bronchitis, are one group of conditions that can benefit from massage therapy. In fact, the positive impact massage can have on respiratory function has been shown through research, says Anne Williams, education program director at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

Many muscles in the front and back of the upper body are accessory respiratory muscles, she explains. “When any of these muscles are chronically tight and shortened, they can restrict normal breathing and disrupt breathing patterns,” she explains. “Massage techniques to lengthen and relax these muscles improve breathing capacity and function.”

Massage therapy can not only improve breathing, but also posture. This can lead to an opening of the chest area, as well as the structural alignment and rib cage expansion needed for optimal lung function, she adds. Plus, when the parasympathetic nervous system responds to massage your breathing rate slows and becomes deep and regular.

A particularly beneficial way of relieving respiratory issues through massage therapy is tapotement, a rhythmic, percussive stroke used in Swedish massage. When performed on the back, along with vibration and shaking, tapotement can loosen mucus in the lungs and increase airway clearance for better lung function, Williams says.

Not only will massage therapy help relax internal muscles, it can also help individuals become aware of their daily stress levels. Once the body recognizes what true relaxation feels like, the mind can then easily recreate it before stress becomes chronic and damaging. This can also help you enjoy a more balanced life.

Benefits of Improving Breathing

  • Controls breathing in an effort to aid relaxation
  • Allows the mind to re-create relaxation before stress becomes chronic or damaging
  • Increases energy level

Massage Therapy Improves Flexibility

Muscle injuries are more common now than they were 50 years ago. That’s not because we’re exercising harder. It’s because we’re more sedentary. What’s worse, as we age our joints tend to tighten, making range of motion and flexibility even more restricted.

Massage therapy is a beneficial treatment for maintaining and improving flexibility and motion. By working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints, regular massage can improve your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone.

As you can see, massage is a great way to relax stressed muscles, stimulate blood flow and improve flexibility. So is daily stretching.

One benefit of stretching is an improvement of blood circulation, which aids in illness recovery and disease prevention. Elongating muscles will also improve posture and your joints’ range of motion. Stretching and massage are even more important for someone who is physically active. Loose muscles are less prone to strains and sprains during a workout, according to ACE.

Incorporating massage and stretching into a fitness routine also will help reduce soreness after a workout. Stretching beforehand will allow greater freedom of movement when exercising and longer workout periods because it helps prevent a buildup of lactic acid in your blood. Regular post-workout massages can then aid in the recovery and relaxation process.

Benefits of Improved Flexibility and Range of Motion

  • Stimulates the production of the body’s natural lubricants to keep flexibility at a maximum
  • Can enhance athletic performance
  • Helps prevent active lifestyle injuries by staying flexible

Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure has more misconceptions than nearly any other medical condition. Here are some common misconceptions according to the American Heart Association:

Myth: High blood pressure has many symptoms
Fact: High blood pressure has NO symptoms. That’s why it’s often called the silent killer.

Myth: High blood pressure is a man’s problem
Fact: High blood pressure can be anyone’s problem. In fact, women need to be aware of certain things that may put them at greater risk than men

Myth: You don’t need to have your high blood pressure checked until you reach middle age.
Fact: Children as young as six can have high blood pressure. It’s a good idea to start having your blood pressure checked at an early age.

One effective way to stave off high blood pressure naturally is massage therapy. Long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure; decrease salivary and urinary cortisol stress-hormone levels; and lower sources for depression, anxiety and hostility.

Benefits of Lower Blood Pressure

  • Lower depression, anxiety, and hostility
  • Keeps stress hormone levels under control
  • Low blood pressure can contribute to lowering the odds of having a heart attack, kidney failure, or a stroke

If you know someone who is looking for natural ways to lower their blood pressure, ask them to give me a call.  I have a massage club with discounted massages on a monthly basis.

Massage Therapy Improves Blood Circulation

The long-term effects of massage therapy are more than skin deep. Better blood circulation is part of the chain reaction that occurs in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.

According to Eileen Cahalane of Alive Magazine:

A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Good circulation brings damaged, tense muscles the oxygen rich blood they need to heal.

Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.

Improved blood circulation is just one more benefit of massage therapy. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, massage can be a powerful, natural ally for a healthier lifestyle.

Benefits of Improved Circulation

  • Enhances blood flow
  • Naturally lowers blood pressure
  • Improves body function

Massage Therapy Improves Posture

From board meetings to bunko groups, there’s a lot of tension these days-as in neck and back tension. “Our necks and backs hurt, and poor posture is the No. 1 culprit,” says Janice Novak, M.S., author of the book, Posture, Get it Straight! (Perigee Trade, 1999).

When you hunch forward, your body isn’t properly aligned. “Not only does poor posture look bad, but it forces some muscles to work incredibly hard all day long while others get weaker,” Novak says. Poor posture can put you in other slumps, too. “When you slouch, you’re pressing down on your internal organs, which affects digestion,” Novak says, adding that circulation and breathing capacity can take a hit too.

Unlike other bad habits, poor posture can be relaxing to correct. Why? Because massage can help get your body back on track. Allowing the body to reinforce healthy and natural movements can be one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy.

Massage can relax and loosen the muscles made sore by bad posture, allowing your body to position itself in its natural-and pain-free-posture.

With ongoing massage the muscles are loosened and relaxed-joints have greater freedom and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.

Benefits of Improved Posture

  • Muscles are loosened and relaxed
  • Joints enjoy greater freedom
  • Pressure points are relieved

Massage Therapy Encourages Relaxation

The body can produce an unhealthy buildup of hormones when we’re stuck in traffic or meeting a work deadline. Pent-up levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol can lead to sleeplessness, headaches and even digestive problems.

Enter massage therapy. Massage has been shown to decrease cortisol in the body. This allows the body to enter a relaxing rest-and-recovery mode­: an effect that lingers long after the massage is over. In fact, massage triggers a host of brain chemistry responses that can result in lasting feelings of relaxation, lowered stress and improved mood.

Benefits of Improved Relaxation

  • Improves mental outlook
  • Allows for better handling of pressure
  • Reinforces positive attitude
  • Promotes relaxed states of mental alertness
  • Enhances calm and creative thinking

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