So, it is mental health awareness week in the US this week – yes, I may be jumping on their event a little bit BUT in light of recent events in the media etc. I really felt like writing this blog about stress and the benefits of massage.
Mental health isn’t something that people want to talk about, yet we are always happy to use the word STRESS. If you feel yourself constantly saying ‘I’m so stressed’ you need to think about the WHY. From a sports massage point of view, I see many clients that come in and say ‘I carry all my stress in my shoulders’ or ‘when I’m stressed I get tension headaches’ – why is it that the more stressed we are the tighter the muscles become?
The activation of the stress response causes muscles throughout the body to tense up. When the stressful situation ends, the muscles will relax. However, if the stressor (e.g. work, family etc.) is constant, the muscles may remain in a tensed state which may lead to joint aches and pains, tension headaches, back and neck pain.
How can massage help relieve stress?
During a massage there is an increase in the release of dopamine and serotonin and a reduction in cortisol levels, these chemicals are all directly linked to stress.According to the National Institutes of Health, massage therapy may (definitely will) help relieve your muscle tension. As a massage therapist I would use various techniques to manipulate the muscles to help them return to a relaxed state. This will therefore help to reduce tension, reduce pain and in turn reduce stress.
Furthermore, stress can also be linked to high blood pressure and heart condition, some research has shown that regularmassage therapy will help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which will reduce the strain on your heart and help you maintain a healthier circulatory system.
Finally, massage is really about doing something for yourself, taking that time out of your busy life to have someone else look after you, decrease your pain, talk about things other than your stressors!