The physician must be experienced in many things, but most assuredly in rubbing. -Hippocrates, "Father of Modern Medicine"
The healing art of Therapeutic Massage has a rich history with the first documentation dating back to China in 3000 BC. Today’s massage therapy combines the ancient healing art with today’s modern medical science. While it’s easy to see the benefits of soft tissue manipulation on the musculoskeletal system, research has shown that massage therapy can have positive effect on every system of the human body and the mind.
Therapeutic Massage is successful at treating a wide range of disorders due to its effect on the autonomic divisions of the central nervous system. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls bodily systems and functions that do not require thought. Within the ANS we have two divisions; sympathetic “the fight or flight state” and parasympathetic “the restorative state”. While genetic factors have an influence on the ANS, environmental factors (Stress) and how we deal with them play an equally important role in our health and wellbeing.
The physician Dr. Hans Selye pioneered the study of the effects of stress on the human body. Dr. Selye defined stress as the "non-specific response of the body to any demand placed upon it." Stress is more than a frame of mind because stress results in significant physiological changes within the body.
In 2000 an article was released by the CDC “Healthy People 2000, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services” stated that 75 percent of all doctors visits were due to stress related illness or injury. We all experience stress at some level on a daily basis. But extreme stress such as life or death, or long-term low-grade stress can have debilitating effects on the mind and body.
When the human body encounters stress of this magnitude, the sympathetic fight or flight state becomes dominate. In the event you are being chased by a bear, the sympathetic response can save your life. However, when you are met with the daily demands of work, family, and home this state of being becomes unhealthy.
When we experience stress we don’t feel well, we can’t think clearly, and we have difficulty performing basic tasks. Inside the body resources and energies are being diverted. When this happens the body can no longer heal itself or fight off illness. But it doesn’t stop there. The effects on the digestive system result in gastric ulcers, irritable bowl, diarrhea or constipation. Processing and absorbing nutrients becomes harder and the body is unable to eliminate toxins. The endocrine system goes into over drive and becomes imbalances. This may result in metabolic dysfunction. Stress hormones are released and they can have the effect of a wrecking ball.
Substance P triggered by stress can result in chronic pain, inflammation, asthma, cystitis, seizures, fibromyalgia, and depression. Adrenaline powered by stress can result in nervousness, anxiety, aggression, palpations, and raises blood pressure. Cortisol is a well known stress hormone known for weight gain, cartilage deterioration, weak bones, muscular deterioration, lowered immune system, thyroid dysfunction, blood sugar imbalance. Stress is associated with almost everything from acne and hair loss, to cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and even death.
Massage focuses on rebalancing and assisting the body in the healing process. Ultimately your body is designed to heal itself. Therapeutic massage has been proven to stimulate the parasympathetic state which is responsible for healing and wellbeing. The results are lowered blood pressure, lowered blood sugar, improved breathing, improved digestive function, urinary output, and improved immune function. Considering the effects massage has on rebalancing hormones it is an excellent treatment for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Massage can improve joint range of motion, rebalance the muscular system, restore function, and relieve pain. Massage and bodywork offer options for anyone wishing to improve their overall wellbeing.
Wellness isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. While it may feel like you are being pampered, your body is being rebalanced. In a life that is filled with constant demands and expectations we all need to be at the top of our game. With any treatment you need to consult your doctor if you are currently being treated for an illness or injury. Massage can be used as a complimentary treatment or as an alternative to medications or surgery. Therapeutic massage is an excellent choice for treatment, maintenance, and the prevention of illness.