This article is a guest post written by Karen Price
Massage has been a way for people to vent out stress for centuries. Every culture has variations in massages, like Lomi Lomi in Hawaii, Shiatsu in Japan, or Thai Massage in Thailand.
Technological advancements, innovation and scientific study of this field have led to various new ways which can help a person get the maximum benefit from massage therapy.
It is well known that massage therapy is great for addressing many issues and has great benefits. These include improved circulation, reduction in blood pressure, reduction of chronic pains, faster recovery from injuries, bruises and various diseases, increase in the body’s natural immunity levels, reduction in the side effects of harsh treatments for conditions like Cancer, AIDS etc.
1. Relaxes Tense Muscles:
When we are cooped up in our offices or cars for the majority of the day, it is a given that our muscles are subject to unnatural strain.
The tension in the muscles can result in aggravating the existing levels of stress. To counter this, massage therapy can be used.
When massaged, the heat generated by the massage and the motion of the fingers and hand cause the knotted muscle fibers to unwind and cause the muscle to relax.
This relaxation of the muscles automatically helps to manage stress levels.
2. Aids Release of Serotonins:
Studies have shown that massage therapy acts on the body in a way which causes the body to release various hormones like serotonins.
Serotonins are chemicals present in the body which regulate happiness, anxiety and mood levels.
Lower levels of serotonins are associated with increased anxiety and depression.
When massage therapy is performed on a person, the serotonin levels in the body increase which in turn causes the ill effects like anxiety and depression to reduce, which is automatically associated with a reduction in the stress levels of the person.
3. Reduces Stress by Human Touch:
Since we are born, our natural instinct is to react positively to caring human touch. Think of it the way a crying baby quiets down after being caressed by its mother.
Even when we become adults, this instinct doesn’t vanish. When you are massaged by another person, this sensation automatically helps to soothe you. It is associated with several factors including, but not limited to reduction of blood pressure, improved circulation and other things, which work together to help bring down your stress levels.
4. Can Aid In Improving Posture:
It is a well-known fact that due to lifestyle habits and the unnatural physical act of sitting for long hours, our postures are badly affected.
When we sit for extended periods of time, the vertebrae in our spine are compressed, resulting in them becoming closer to each other due to the effect of gravity and also due to the stress of sitting in awkward positions.
When this happens, the muscles in the back contort to accommodate this new position which causes bad posture to develop.
This causes the nearby nerve fibers and blood vessels to get pinched between the two vertebrae, not to mention the muscles and ligaments.
When massage therapy is performed, it relaxes these muscles, relieving the physical pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. Some therapies like Thai Massage can aid in straightening out the spine through physical manipulations. This in turn reduces the discomfort in the body and results in lowered stress levels.
5. Improves Breathing:
Due to bad posture, whenever the back muscles and vertebrae are tense and compressed, it is not just the back that suffers. This phenomenon can also cause the body to lean forward slightly, which results in the compression of the chest cavity as well.
The chest cavity houses the lungs, which are responsible for the holding and absorption of oxygen into the body. The greater the lung capacity, the greater is the amount of oxygen which can be stored in the body and absorbed into the blood.
When the chest cavity is compressed, it prevents the lungs from opening up completely. This in turn restricts the amount of oxygen which can be inhaled, stored in the lungs, and transported to the blood. This can result in shallow rapid breath, which increases the stress in the body.
Certain styles of massage therapy, like Thai Massage, can be very effective for improving posture and helping spinal realignment. This helps the chest cavity to open up. As a result the lungs are able to expand more, thus improving the amount of oxygen absorbed by the blood, which in turn results in deeper and longer breaths. This essentially helps the body to reduce stress.
6. Improves Sleep Cycle:
Massage therapy is also responsible for relaxing the body, which ensures that the circulation improves and muscles are cleansed of the lactic acid build up due to continuous activity. This also releases a hormone called melatonin which is responsible for regulating sleep in humans.
This hormone aids the body to fall asleep at night, and also increases the quality of sleep by increasing the duration of REM sleep – the deep sleep which the body requires to recover and heal from stress and injury, which in turn results in the reduction of the stress which builds up in the body over a long period of time.
7. Eliminates Toxins:
One of the most important effects which massage therapy has on the body is elimination of toxins. Toxins are chemicals which gradually build up in the body over the course of time and negatively impact its functioning by interfering with the natural processes in the body.
Generally, the body eliminates these toxins by filtering them out through the kidneys or the sweat glands. But if the build-up is greater than the amount which can be eliminated by them on a regular basis, it starts to put undue stress on these organs, causing their efficiency to reduce even further, and this phenomenon keeps on snowballing.
When massage therapy is performed, the circulation improves significantly and the body starts sweating out the toxins in larger amounts. This results in reduction of stress on the kidneys as well, and they can perform up to their normal levels. This reduces the pent up stress in the body.
Thai Massage And The Movement Factor:
Although many regions in the world have their own style of massage, the benefits of Thai Massage are quite unique.
Here is just one of the reasons why Thai Massage Therapy is so effective in managing stress:
Western massage is primarily two dimensional in nature with the client lying on a table.
Thai Massage therapy is more of a three dimensional system which adds a wide range of physical manipulations and stretches to the massage.
Thai Massage is an Asian style which combines massage with applied or passive yoga elements. Since lack of movement and a sedentary life style are major contributors to stress and disease for the body, Thai Massage takes stress relief to a new level.
The benefits of massage and yoga are well established for relieving stress. Thai Massage is unique in that it combines both of them into one therapy system. As a result it is rapidly gaining popularity in the western world.