Stress is a good thing—under the right circumstances. Running away from a bear in the woods? Sounds like a great time to be stressed. Trying to finish a work project on a deadline? We get it: that can be stressful, too—but it doesn’t need to be. Stress is one of the body’s tools for survival. It prompts us to buckle down and fight (as we may, in a sense, at the office) or get up and take flight (as we would if Mama Bear found out that we were trying to feed her babies). Ultimately, stress is a tool that we are meant to use for our benefit, not our harm. By taking stress relief seriously, we can regain control over our wellbeing and learn to employ this powerful tool for our good.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) sites massage as an effective form of stress relief: “Massage therapy has been shown to be a means by which stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels,” reads the AMTA’s official statement on massage and stress. In fact, stress relief is likely the most popular reason that people seek out massage therapy. This is understandable, considering that, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 25 percent of Americans would rate their stress at an eight or higher on a 10-point scale. Another 50 percent would rate their stress between four and seven.
It’s safe to say that most Americans are juggling a little bit more than they can handle—or, at least, that they aren’t using the proper juggling techniques. In order to maintain our emotional and physical wellbeing—to keep the balls from falling to the floor, if you will—we must employ stress relief tactics. That’s where massage comes in.
We mentioned earlier the body’s “fight or flight” response, which is triggered by stress. What really happens when we get stressed is this: our bodies produce cortisol and adrenaline like they’re going out of style, quickening the heart and increasing muscular tension, sweating, and alertness. When we carry stress over a long period of time, many of its symptoms dull. Yet, the continued tension of long-term stress can really do a number on our health and wellbeing, as it can lead to…
- high blood pressure,
- cardiac arrhythmias,
- persistent fatigue,
- sexual dysfunction,
- digestive disorders,
- the formation of artery-clogging deposits,
- brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction,
- obesity, and
- dependence on insulin, among other disorders.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This applies also to stress and massage therapy: for every harm that stress does to the body, there is an equal and opposite benefit that massage therapy offers. Stress produces hormones that can damage the body; massage produces “feel-good” hormones, such as serotonin, while reducing the production of stress hormones. Stress makes our hearts, muscles, and nerves work overtime; massage allows the body’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and muscular tension to decrease by improving circulation, relaxing muscle tissue, and releasing nerve compressions.
Massage targets body and mind alike to relieve stress. Schedule your next stress-relieving session at Elements Massage Moon Valley today!
Burgan, B., & Healey, D. (2013, July 3). How Does Massage Work? Retrieved September 21, 2016, from http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-does-massage-work
Cutler, N. (2014, June 3). Top 4 Massage Techniques to De-Stress. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2014/06/top-4-massage-techniques-to-de-stress.html
Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress. (2006, October). Retrieved September 21, 2016, from https://www.amtamassage.org/statement2.html