There are certain situations where stress acts as a positive motivator, such as trying to hit a tight deadline, getting through an examination paper or striving for a promotion at work. It can also be a temporary response to a frustrating situation, like being stuck in a traffic jam or hearing that your flight has been delayed. But it can also be chronic; and that is when the biggest problems arise.
When the brain detects any type of stress, heart rate and blood pressure rises and muscles become tighter and more tense. With this in mind, it makes absolute sense that chronic or frequent feelings of stress can have an extremely negative effect on the body and mind.
So how can massage therapy relieve stress, exactly? Let’s look at some of the ways massage therapy can leave your client feeling on top form once again:
1. It can soothe the pain away
Most massage techniques focus on reducing pain and increasing flexibility. This in itself can cause the body to stimulate a relaxation response and lower stress. So whatever type of massage you offer your client is likely to experience a feeling of relaxation and stress reduction as a side effect.
2. It focuses on the power of touch
The sense of touch is a critical aspect of any massage. For many clients, massage therapy can stimulate feelings of caring and comfort which promotes positive emotions.
Of course, a small number of new clients may initially feel apprehensive with touch at first. However, a skilled massage therapist will put the client at ease and discuss their treatment preferences beforehand. The more comfortable the client feels, the more they are able to reap the full benefits that massage therapy has to offer.
3. Treatment settings can promote feelings of calmness and relaxation
Along with the wide range of massage techniques and the soothing sense of touch, the calm and peaceful environments in which massage therapy often takes place can play a contributing part in reducing stress and tension.
The use of soothing oils and lotions can provide an aura of ease and peace and the subdued lighting offered by many massage therapists can help to create a relaxed and drowsy sensation. The use of candles can also be helpful in creating a peaceful and serene environment.
Sometimes, massage therapists offer certain types of music to create a calming atmosphere. (And in case you’re wondering, this doesn’t have to be the sound of whales!)
Of course, different clients have different preferences and a good massage therapist will always to adapt their approach and techniques to work within the requirements of the each client.
4. It offers specific relaxation techniques
Massage therapy comprises of a wide variety of techniques, including the use of the hands, forearms and elbows to provide treatment. Some clients opt for the use of oils to promote further relaxation while others find a deep tissue or sports massage better eases their tense and tight muscles. As a trained massage therapist you will be able to offer advice on what kind of massage is most suitable to a client’s specific needs.
5. It has many muscular benefits
When under stress, the body activates a fight or flight response that causes muscles to become tight and tense. This is completely normal and healthy. But when stress is constant or frequent, muscles throughout the body can stay in a slightly tensed state. This can lead to joint pains, headaches, chronic back and neck pain and a host of other uncomfortable symptoms. During massage treatment, the therapist is able to use a variety of techniques to the muscles to encourage them to return to a relaxed state. This can significantly help to relieve tension-related aches and pains.
6. It can help the immune and digestive systems
When the mind is under stress, the body responds by reserving energy through suppressing the digestive and immune systems. With these systems on temporary lock down, more blood can be pumped to the heart, muscles and lungs. In situations that create temporary stress, this is a completely healthy survival response (the faster the heart, muscles and lungs are working, the quicker the body can react to dangerous stimuli). Chronic stress, on the other hand, can lead to a reduction in immune system activity, which can increase the risk of colds and immune system disorders. Long-term or frequent stress may also lead to problems with digestion. Massage therapy may aid in restoring normal circulation, help immune system activity and encourage normal digestive function.
Massage therapy can offer an outlet to help focus thoughts away from everyday worries. It can allow the mind and body to relax and therefore aid in giving more control over ones health. And it can even play a positive role in the management of chronic illness.
Stress and anxiety are known to be considered as risk factors for a wide range of chronic diseases, and can even worsen the symptoms of some existing conditions. Massage therapy can help to relax tight and painful muscles, improve the range of motion in the joints, and enhance circulation and lower stress levels.