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What We Treat – Massage

Depression

Massage and Depression

What is Depression?

Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide and can be debilitating for those who experience it. Prolonged feelings of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affect the quality of life.

At one time or another, most of us have experienced some form of depression. It is a healthy response to events in our lives that seem overwhelming. When we are balanced, physically and emotionally, we can easily bounce back from a depressed state and move on with our lives. When negative feelings and emotions become persistent and consistent, depression
may set in.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are different forms of depression and those who suffer from depression may respond to treatment differently based on the type of depression they are experiencing:

  • Major Depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities.
  • Dysthymic disorder is characterized by long-term symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal function or feeling well.
  • Minor Depression symptoms for 2 weeks or more that do not meet the full criteria for major depression.
  • Psychotic Depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis.
  • Postpartum Depression is more serious than the baby blues that many women experience after giving birth when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by the onset of depression over the winter months.
  • Bipolar Disorder also called manic-depressive illness is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood changes from extreme highs to extreme lows.

Did you know massage therapy can help?

Many individuals who suffer from depression benefit greatly from massage therapy. Although massage therapy is not a stand-alone treatment for depression, it may complement the individual’s mental health care treatment plan. Massage therapy helps to stimulate the relaxation state, which can help to naturally regulate and balance the body and mind.

Various studies have demonstrated the benefits of massage for symptoms that are commonly observed in depressed individuals. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Significant increase in quality of sleep
  • Reduced pain, and
  • Lower anxiety levels.

What can massage therapists do?

There are many different types of massage. Some types of massage that are beneficial for reducing symptoms associated with depression include:

  • Swedish massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Hot Stone Massage
  • Chair Massage
  • Reflexology

What can you do?

As massage helps the body to relax it helps the mind to relax as well. Massage encourages a balanced body-mind connection.

Here are some tips to help you or someone you know who may be experiencing depressive symptoms include:

  • Surround yourself with people whom you trust to provide objective and unbiased input and insights. Develop a supportive group of friends, loved ones, family and co-workers who can lend an ear and listen to you.
  • Breathe, go slow and think things through. Do not make too many life changes all at once. A few at a time will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Try to get at least twenty minutes of simple exercise at least three days per week, if not more. Take a daily walk, breathe deeply and let it all go.
  • Remember, you are not alone. Others are having similar experiences.
  • Smile.

Please consult with your care provider if you suffer from severe depression.  Massage therapy works in conjunction with your mental health therapy and should not be the sole treatment for your depression.

Resources

http://www.helpfordepression.com/article/alternative-methods/massage-therapy-depression

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/what-are-the-different-forms-of-depression.shtml

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21234327

Cold & Flu

Massage for Colds & Flu

What is the flu?

Each year, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized due to complication from a flu virus. Unfortunately most of us get the “flu” at least once in our lifetime. The associated symptoms and signs are all-too-common: fever, sore throat, congestion, fatigue, muscle and body aches, runny nose, dry cough, sneezing and watery eyes.

What is a common cold?

Colds are much less severe than the flu, but similar to the flu. Viruses and germs cause colds. Colds cause less severe symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and light headaches. Though it may make you feel lousy, getting a cold is not always a bad thing. Instead, it’s a sign that the body’s resources are strong and vital, working to return you to a state of good health. However, if your immune system is already compromised, a cold may further weaken your body, leaving you open to a more serious illness.

Cold & Flu: When is massage appropriate?

At the onset of a cold or the flu, the individual is in the acute phase. In the acute phase, massage is NOT indicated. However, once the fever has broken and the individual is in the subacute stage of the cold or flu, massage may help to speed recovery.

It is important to note that if the client is recovering from a cold or flu, a massage may hasten recovery by flushing toxins from the body, shortening the duration of the symptoms.

Take caution when working with someone who is recovering from the flu or a cold, they may still be actively fighting virus and that may put the massage therapist at risk.

What type of massage is beneficial?

During recovery from the common cold or flu, the following types of massage may be beneficial:

  • Swedish Massage may temporarily increase symptoms in exchange for a quicker recovery time.
  • Reflexology focusing on the lymphatic and circulatory systems
  • Deep Tissue Massage focusing on the upper respiratory muscles and fascial structures

What can you do?

Here are some tips for staying healthy:

  • Consume 8-10 glasses of filtered water daily
  • Exercise regularly to support the immune system
  • Eat a healthy, organic diet, including foods with beta carotene (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, garlic and tomatoes)
  • Limit sugar intake. Sugar taxes the immune system, especially when feeling under the weather
  • Take Vitamin C and herbs to support the immune system, especially in the cold and flu season
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Enjoy fun and relaxing activities
  • Schedule regular massage sessions to support the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems.

Carpal Tunnel

Massage and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Do you experience tingling in your hand or fingers? Pain that radiates from your wrist to your shoulder? Maybe even difficulty holding small objects? If so, you could be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), an uncomfortable and sometimes disabling condition.

CTS may be caused by swelling and fluid retention, subluxation of the carpal bones, or fibrotic buildup. CTS may also be a symptom of a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism.

CTS is diagnosed by common symptoms and two orthopedic tests known as Tinel’s test and Phalens Maneuver. Nerve conduction tests are also used to determine possible CTS. However, these tests are not conclusive. Many factors contribute to pain and nerve problems in the hand and the wrist. These factors make it difficult to pinpoint where the pain originates. It could be coming from as high up as the neck, the shoulder girdle, or even the elbow. Likewise, other types of soft tissue injuries could show up as pain in the wrist and hand.

Massage therapy can help to reduce the pain and swelling.  As long as the client is not in acute pain and can tolerate massage, massage can help to increase the flexibility of the muscles and pliability of the surrounding tissue.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that protects the median nerve, which innervates the hand, as well as tendons that control the fingers. This nerve controls sensation and muscle movements in the hand. If the carpal tunnel becomes narrowed from swelling or injury, the nerve is compressed and impinged. This can cause numbness, pain, and severe weakness in the hands.

There are several causes of CTS, but the main cause is repetitive flexion and extension of the tendons in the hands and wrists, especially when performed for long periods, leading to Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI.)

Symptoms usually start with dull wrist pain that gradually worsens. Other symptoms may include:

  • Loss of feeling in the fingers
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the fingers or hand
  • Pain extending from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or down into the palm or fingers
  • Weakness the hands and difficulty holding objects.

CTS can occur due to repetitive motion activities such as:

  • Driving
  • Painting
  • Playing some musical instruments
  • Some racquet sports
  • Assembly line work
  • Writing
  • Keyboarding

There are 8 tendons that also pass through the carpal tunnel. When soft tissues or these muscle tendons become swollen they may trap the median nerve.

Is Massage Appropriate for CTS?

Yes!  CTS due to edema responds well to massage that focuses  on moving the fluid and toxic build up out of the affected area. If CTS is due to fibrotic build up or a bone subluxation, massage may also help as well. However, if massage on surrounding area increases symptoms, do not work on the affected area. Here are a few massage techniques that are recommended:

  • Use active movements of the wrist and hand to assist to release the area as opposed to deep tissue massage.
  • Lymphatic drainage may also help to reduce the build up of fluids and reduce swelling.
  • Swedish massage can help to alleviate some the symptoms as long as the massage itself does not produce the symptoms.   Your massage therapist will communicate and check in with you about pain sensations and tolerance.

What you can do?

If massage is indicated for the type of CTS you have, you would greatly benefit from regular massage sessions. In addition to regular massage therapy sessions with a therapist, you can also practice self-care techniques to enhance the positive results to work toward a pain-free life:

Actively taking part in your treatment is key. Consider these self-care techniques:

  • Take plenty of breaks during the day, especially if you perform repetitive tasks.
  • Try yoga to increase your flexibility and strength.
  • Remember to gently stretch your hands, arms, and shoulders throughout the day.
  • If you work at a computer, consult an ergonomics specialist to ensure that your workstation is set up property.

Cancer Care

Massage and Cancer Care

A diagnosis no one wants to hear…

Cancer can leave you feeling frightened, uncertain and powerless. But if you or a loved one is facing cancer, it’s important to have hope. In many cases, cancer can be cured, especially when it’s detected early. There are more treatments available now than ever before to cure cancer or slow it from spreading, relieve its symptoms, and help you live a healthier life.

It’s also important to know how you can supplement your healthcare treatment with natural drug-free therapy such as massage therapy. According to the American Cancer Society, massage appears promising for symptom management and improving quality of life.  Massage is being recognized by a growing number of healthcare professionals as a useful addition to conventional treatment.

Research studies show massage therapy can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain and fatigue. Recent studies conducted with cancer patients support the use of massage for short-term symptom relief.

Understanding treatments and their side effects

Cancer is an overall term for a group of diseases that occur when cells begin to reproduce abnormally, eventually damaging or killing healthy tissue.

Most cancers are named according to where they begin in the body, and there are more than 100 different types.

The most common are breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Your treatment plan will be based on many factors, including the type and stage (how far it has spread) of the cancer and your overall health.

While cancer treatments have proven to be effective, they do have serious side effects to take into account.

The most common treatments include:

Surgery: Performed to remove the cancer if possible. Surgery may be used alone or along with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy.

Chemotherapy: The use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy generally lasts from 3 to 9 months, and can have side effects including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, early menopause, and hot flashes.

Radiation Therapy: The use of high doses of radiation to destroy the cancer cells. Side effects generally include fatigue, hair loss, and skin darkening at the site of the treatment.

Biological Therapy: This treatment works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Side effects depend on the specific type of therapy, but they can include rashes or swelling, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.

Human touch empowers cancer patients

Massage therapy studies conducted with breast cancer patients awaiting mastectomies showed an increased sense of body awareness, an increased connection with treatment and empowerment in their own healing process. In another study, hospitalized cancer patients reported relief from the perception of pain and anxiety.

Another research study showed a significant decrease in the intensity of pain felt by cancer patients when their treatment involved therapeutic massage sessions.

Other benefits of therapeutic massage on helping cancer patients to cope include:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Better sleep
  • Anxiety relief
  • Improved psychological well-being
  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Decreased anger and hostility
  • Stronger immune system
  • Increased levels of dopamine and serotonin (used by the body to regulate mood and behavior)

What types of massage are beneficial?

Massage for individuals going through treatment can be useful and beneficial. The following types of massage are indicated for cancer patients being mindful of the patient’s resilience due the intense effects of cancer treatments:

  • Swedish massage
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Reflexology
  • Aromatherapy

What can you do?

Whether you are healthy or you have been diagnosed with cancer it is always important to follow these self-care tips:

  • Eat a low-fat healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly to control weight.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Stop smoking and other tobacco use.
  • Take advantage of early cancer screenings.

Make massage part of your self-care regimen, schedule a massage today!

 

References

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/cance1/a/massage_cancer.htm

Back Pain

Massage and Back Pain

Back pain is a common problem—it affects 80% of all individuals at some time in their lives. In fact, it is one of the top reasons people seek medical care. Unfortunately, back pain isn’t always easy to diagnose or treat.

Back pain may occur due to:

  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Nerve Compression
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal Subluxation or Deformity

What causes back pain?

Improper lifting, sudden movements or traumatic injury can result in strained muscles or ligaments. Other possible causes can include arthritis, structural abnormalities of the spine or nerve compression due to bulging or ruptured disks between the vertebrae. However, less than 2% of the population has a herniated or slipped disk. Depending on the specific diagnosis, back pain is generally treated with medications, physical therapy, and chiropractic care and in some cases, surgery.

Did you know muscles are the #1 cause?

Low back pain stems from muscle, nerve, or bone problems and the number one reason for low back pain is muscle spasms. Muscle sprains and strains cannot be detected via medical technology. If untreated, back pain can become a chronic or ongoing problem. The 5 lumbar vertebrae in the low back bear the most weight and receive the most stress. With that being said, it’s not surprising that low back pain is one of the top reasons for a doctor’s visit.

Low back pain symptoms include:

  • Back sprain or strain
  • Muscle spasms, cramping and stiffness. Muscle spasms are the most common cause of low back pain.
  • Pain in the back and sacral region and lasts 48 to 72 hours followed by days or weeks of less severe pain.
  • Nerve Compression
  • Leg pain – if pain extends below the knee it points to nerve compression over muscle problems.
  • Nerve-related problems involving tingling and numbness in one or both legs.
  • Sciatica – shock-like or burning pain down the leg caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Pain in the back and hip region lasting longer than 3 to 6 months.

Recent studies show that massage therapy can help to reduce pain and improve flexibility for those with low back pain.

But what if you have pain in the upper or mid-region of the back?

Upper and mid-back pain is not as common as low back pain and neck pain, but it is a more common complaint among people who work at a computer desk all day.

Mid and upper back pain tends to show up as a dull, burning, or sometimes sharp pain. It can be in a single point or all over the back; the pain can vary or be a constant nagging ache and often worsen when you do certain activities.

Common causes of upper and middle back pain include:

  • Overuse, muscle strain, or injury to the muscles or soft tissue structures.
  • Nerve compression
  • A vertebral fracture
  • Osteoarthritis due to breakdown of cartilage
  • Myofascial pain in the connective tissue of certain muscles in the spine

Sitting for long periods of time with the arms in front of you can cause the chest muscles to start to pull the shoulders forward. When the chest muscles pull the shoulders, they become overly contracted while the back muscles become tight but in an overly stretched position. This causes de-conditioning of the back muscles and they become weak developing tight spots while the chest muscle become tighter and shortened.

What your massage therapist can do?

Your massage therapist can observe your posture and check for signs of postural distortions due to muscle tension that could be contributing to the back pain you are experiencing.

The massage therapist can work on specific muscle groups to attempt to alleviate tension in those muscles and ultimately alleviate the back pain.

What types of massage are beneficial for back pain?

Researchers are continuing to study the effectiveness and specific types of massage that specifically help with back pain. Here are a few massage techniques that can be used to help decrease back pain:

  • Neuromuscular techniques – including trigger point therapy to deactivate the tight spots or adhesions that have formed in the muscle fibers and soft tissue applying careful pressure to the client’s tolerance level.
  • Myofascial work –myofascial release to break up restrictions in the surrounding connective tissue.
  • Active and passive stretching of the overly tight muscle groups.
  • Hydrotherapy such as hot stone or contrast therapy will help to loosen overly tight muscle groups so that the therapist can work more deeply.
  • Reflexology address back pain by working the spinal system points.
  • (Only if inflammation is not present) Deep tissue massage can be used if tolerated by the client.
  • If you experience back pain, regular therapeutic massage has demonstrated lasting benefits including:
  • Improved range of motion and flexibility
  • Increased blood flow and circulation
  • Reduced swelling, pressure and pain

What you can do?

If the back pain is due to muscle spasms, rest is not recommended. Get moving! Do not rest in bed for a week. Studies show those who maintain normal activities had more flexibility than those who rested in bed for a week. This is because joints become stiff when you stay in the same position for too long. It is important to stay active to prevent added tension and stiffness.

In addition to seeing your massage therapist on a regular basis, here are some self-care techniques that you can use to maintain a flexible and pain-free lifestyle:

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get deep and restful sleep.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises or meditate.
  • Stretch and move the spine frequently especially if you are sitting for prolonged periods of time.
  • Make time in your schedule to do things you enjoy, and have a little fun. Life is too short!

References

http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/low-back-pain-symptoms

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22991113

http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/upper-and-middle-back-pain-overview

http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/upper-back-pain/causes-upper-back-pain

 

Asthma

Massage and Asthma

Asthma is a long-term condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. Caring for a chronic condition such as asthma can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that it can be controlled.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is an inflammatory disease in which the airways become blocked or narrowed, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Some people have long periods without symptoms, while others may always experience difficulty breathing. Asthma attacks occur when something triggers the inflammation of the respiratory system. Flare-ups can be severe—sometimes even life-
threatening.

Asthma attacks are generally caused by one or more triggers, including:

  • A cold, flu, bronchitis, or sinus infection
  • Allergens including dust mites, tree and grass pollen, mold, and animal dander
  • Irritants that include tobacco smoke, strong fragrances, and air pollution
  • Certain foods and food additives
  • Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Changes in weather
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, stress, grief and anger

Generally, the available approach of asthma treatment is to try and prevent attacks. This is usually done with regular use of anti-
inflammatory medications, inhaled steroids and leukotriene
 inhibitors. Once an asthma attack is underway, quick-acting medications like corticosteroids may be able to relieve it.

Is massage okay for someone with asthma?

Yes, massage can help an individual with asthma to relieve some of the tight muscles due to wheezing, coughing and other common symptoms.

Massage is never indicated during an attack. However, between attacks it is indicated to work on specific muscle groups which help to improve muscle function.

The following muscle are commonly overdeveloped and chronically tight in individuals who don’t breathe easily:

  • Intercostals
  • Scalenes
  • Serratus Posterior Inferior
  • Diaphragm
  • SCM
  • Trapezius
  • Erector Spinae
  • Pectoralis major and minor

What can you do?

It is important to remember that you are a key part of controlling your asthma. Here are a few ways you can take an active part in your treatment:

  • Try keeping an asthma diary to track your specific asthma triggers.
  • Be sure to keep all of your health care providers fully informed. This includes talking to them about any medications or herbs you may be taking, as well as any changes in your symptoms.
  • Follow your practitioner’s recommendations for self-care. These might include exercises such as Qi Gong, 
yoga, dietary changes
  • Practice stress-relief measures such as meditation.
  • Schedule regular massage sessions to reduce stress and to work on specific muscle groups to release tight breathing muscles.
  • By making positive lifestyle choices and working closely with your practitioner, you’ll truly be taking charge of your asthma—
and your life.

Arthritis

Massage and Arthritis

If you live with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life.

According to Western Medicine, Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans and many more worldwide. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors that can increase your risk include: a joint injury, being overweight, aging, repetitive motion and genetics.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another type of arthritis, affecting 2.1 million people in the United States. This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA. 
RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

Symptoms of RA include:

  • Warm, swollen or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Treatment options

Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as self-care recommendations and physical therapy sessions. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Did you know massage can help?

Massage has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system and could be used as a natural method for reducing stress and promoting health.

Here are some massage approaches that may help individuals who suffer from RA or osteoarthritis:

  • Deep tissue massage to help release fascial adhesions
  • Gentle stretching and moving the body through normal ranges of motion to release tension in the muscles.
  • Work surrounding areas to decompress the joints
  • Focused work on painful muscles that cross over the affected joints

Note: It is important to communicate with the client to ensure they can tolerate the level of movement or pressure being applied.

What you can do?

There is no “quick fix” for arthritis and it may take time to achieve results. However, there are style changes you can make that may help you find relief faster:

  • Exercise can help increase your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stick to a healthy diet made up of a variety of unprocessed, organic foods.
  • De-stress. By learning to identify your stressors and lowering your stress through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Tai Chi or 
Qi Gong, you can improve your state of mind and reduce overall stress.
  • Try alternating heat and cold for pain relief. Heat treatments, such as warm baths or heat pads, soothe stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold treatments, such as ice packs, are best for acute pain as the numb painful areas and decrease inflammation.
  • Maintain balance in your life. Alternating periods of rest and relaxation with periods of activity and exercise will keep you feeling your best.
  • Schedule a regular massage to keep stress levels low and maintain healthy muscle tone around the joints and throughout the entire body.

 

Anxiety

Massage and Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults and costing more than $42 billion a year.

Feelings of anxiety, worry and fear related to significant and challenging events are justified and very common. While it’s true, mild anxiety may leave a person feeling unsettled, severe anxiety can be debilitating. Anxiety is used as a general term for several disorders that have common symptoms – such as nervousness, worrying, apprehension and fear.

Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common types include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by unrealistic, persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People with this disorder often expect the worst and experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

Panic Disorder involves brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and seemingly out-of-the-blue. The sudden onset often produces increased anxiety that a panic attack will recur. The individual often becomes preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias commonly focus on flying, bridges, insects, heights, dental or medical procedures and elevators. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, reduce self-esteem, limit work efficiency and put a strain on relationships.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a fear of being negatively judged and scrutinized by others in social or performance-related situations. Different variations of this type of anxiety include a fear of intimacy, stage fright and a fear of humiliation. People suffering from this disorder can sometimes isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid public situations and human contact.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when unwanted or intrusive thoughts make an individual feel compelled to repeat certain behaviors or routines. Even when the OCD sufferers know the irrationality of their compulsions, they feel powerless to stop them. For example, they may obsessively wash their hands, clean personal items or constantly check light switches locks or stoves.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, a natural disaster, a serious accident or other life-threatening events. Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be anxious and severely depressed for months or even years following the event. They often experience flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.

How does massage therapy help?

Massage therapy not only helps to release tension in the muscles, but also has a physiological effect on the brain chemistry. Massage encourages the release of neurotransmitters that activate the parasympathetic nervous system bringing the body and mind into a more relaxed state.

A recent Japanese study conducted in 2012 on the effects of a hand massage showed that the subjects’ heart rates went down significantly resulting in increased activity of the autonomic nervous system, improved activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, and reduced activity of the sympathetic nervous system aka (the fight or flight mechanism.) This study also measured anxiety levels and found a significant decrease in anxiety following the massage and also an increased willingness to communicate and connect with the caregiver.

Massage therapists can provide a safe and supportive compliment to an individual’s mental health care plan. When providing massage for individuals with psychological disorders, especially anxiety, it is important to maintain clear boundaries, be sensitive to the individual’s needs and condition, and provide a safe and nurturing environment.

What types of massage are beneficial?

The following types of massage can help relieve some symptoms of Anxiety:

  • Swedish massage helps to activate the parasympathetic state.
  • Shiatsu calms the mind, nerves, and reduces tension.
  • Reflexology stimulates points that release blockages in the lymphatic and endocrine systems.

What can you do?

Anxiety has profound effects on the sufferer and their loved ones which is why it is important to understand the different types of anxiety disorders and treatment options. Regular massage is not a stand-alone treatment option for anxiety disorders, but it can certainly compliment your current treatment plan. If you or someone you know suffers from an anxiety disorder, contact a massage therapist today.

 

Weight Loss

Massage and Weight Loss

If you struggle with your weight, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization(WHO), it is estimated that there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, and there are at least 300 million clinically obese individuals.

Overweight people spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss products, but obesity is still on the rise. People are turning to extreme fasting, fad diets or even drastic measures such as surgery; in an attempt to manage their weight.

Unfortunately, excess weight is not just a cosmetic issue. Being overweight is a risk factor for many conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

The good news is that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risks and it’s never too late to get started.

Did you know massage improves a body’s metabolism?

A full-body massage activates the parasympathetic response in the body producing a state of relaxation.  When the body is in this state, it is capable of digestion.  During stressful periods, or sympathetic responses, the body redirects blood from digestive organs to muscles, the heart and lungs for the survival mode of “fight or flight”.   Massage therapy also increases the blood circulation in the body and thus increases the metabolic rate.

What types of massage are beneficial?

As you receive a massage, your body’s metabolism and the circulation of fresh oxygenated blood increase throughout the body. The following types of massage may help clients with weight loss:

  • Abdominal massage encourages healthy digestion and removal of stagnant waste
  • Lymphatic massage assists with removal of toxins and increases metabolism.
  • Aromatherapy reduces the appetite, engages the senses and increases energy levels.

What can you do?

Exercise is an important component of any weight loss program. Adding aerobic exercise, weight training, and other types of exercise to your daily routine will have a positive effect on your weight and general health.

Diet is another important issue to consider.  In general, a healthy diet is made up of unprocessed, organic foods, including a wide variety of whole grains and vegetables.

By learning to lower stress and anxiety through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation and/or gentle exercise, you may lose weight more easily and possibly stop the destructive symptoms caused overeating.

Neck Pain

Massage and Neck Pain

Have you ever experienced a stiff neck or neck pain? At some point in our lives, each of us will most likely experience some type of neck pain. However, certain people may be predisposed to acute or chronic neck pain due to their occupation. Employees who perform repetitive tasks, sit for prolonged periods of time and use their upper extremities are at a greater risk of developing neck pain.

The neck is one of the most flexible—and delicate—parts of the body. Throughout the day, many of us put stress on our neck without even realizing it. Unfortunately, this can result in a literal “pain in the neck,” causing stiffness, pain and limited movement in the neck, shoulders and arms.

What causes neck pain?

Neck pain can be caused by a wide range of factors, including wear-and-tear, strains or sprains, or inflammation. A few of the most common culprits include:

  • Bad posture. Bending or hunching forward for prolonged periods can cause strains (overstretched muscles), sprains
(injuries to ligaments) or other problems. This can happen at work when sitting in front of the computer, during long drives, when reading in bed or even talking on the phone. Sleeping in an awkward position is another common cause.
  • Injuries, trauma and motor vehicle accidents. This is a major cause of acute neck pain. Common injuries include falls, sports-related injuries, direct trauma and auto accidents.
  • Medical conditions. Conditions such as arthritis can cause chronic pain and stiffness. Herniated disks in the neck can also cause pain, as can jaw injuries.
  • Stress. Being stressed or anxious can cause tension in the muscles of your neck, shoulders and back.

Did you know the human head weighs approximately 10 lbs?

Neck pain is often experienced in individuals who portray a postural distortion known as “head-forward posture”.

Head-forward posture can be seen from a side view when an individual’s ears do not align with the shoulders.

It has been noted that for every inch forward the head moves, gravity adds approximately 10 lbs of pressure. This pressure can contribute to neck pain.

When we wear our shoulders high, range of motion becomes increasingly limited. The muscles at the base of the skull cinch down; this causes the muscles in the front of the neck to become even tighter. These tensions may cause neck pain as well as tension headaches.

Massage therapy can help to increase range of motion and reduce pain in the neck. According to a recent study conducted in Poland, the effectiveness of massage therapy for neck pain is comparable to rehabilitative physical therapy and kinesiotherapy. All three therapeutic techniques were equally effective in reducing pain and increasing range of motion in the neck.

Researchers are continuing to study the effectiveness and specific types of massage that specifically help with neck pain. Here are a few massage techniques that can be used to help decrease neck pain:

  • Petrissage –kneading strokes to relax the tight muscles in the neck.
  • Neuromuscular techniques – including trigger point therapy to deactivate the tight spots or adhesions that have formed in the muscle fibers and soft tissue.
  • Myofascial work –including cervical traction and myofascial release to break up restrictions in the surrounding connective tissue.

What can you do?

Massage therapy is generally a safe and natural way to address neck pain. However, always consult your healthcare provider, especially in cases where inflammation or injury are present. Massage is never a replacement for medical treatment.

If you suffer from neck pain, here are some tips for self-care:

  • Practice coupling your breath with movement in the neck. Try it right now! Nod your head as if you are saying “yes”, inhale and look up, exhale and look down. Now, try “No” Inhale and turn the head to the left, and exhale turn the head to the right. Repeat this activity anytime you feel stress or pain in the neck.
  • Stretch, if tolerated.  Stretching can help to increase your flexibility and range of motion.
  • Schedule a regular massage to continue to improve mobility and help to reduce pain.
  • Improve your quality of movement and quality of life with regular massage sessions. Just imagine how wonderful life could be without neck pain.

 

References

Ortop Traumatol Rehabil. 2012 Mar-Apr;14(2):115-24. doi: 10.5604/15093492.992301.

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