Maintenance and Prevention
Massage therapy has many positive effects that we can all benefit from, especially in times of wellness. Regular sessions provide opportunities to address concerns before they become a problem, such as symptom-free postural imbalances and maintenance of old injuries. We use the right and left sides of our bodies very differently in our daily activities, which creates the conditions for postural imbalance. Over time, this imbalance can create misuse injuries such as tendinitis, scoliosis, arthritis, and various other conditions affecting our muscle and joints system. Old injuries, such as whiplash, strains, sprains, fractures, complete or partial dislocations, may have residual effects such as restrictive scar tissue, joint instability, tender trigger points and altered gait.
Regular massage therapy allows us to address these imbalances while still minor, and prevent future, more serious injuries.
Consistent massage therapy also provides the opportunity for wellness care, helping to maintain our overall health. Our bodies accumulate environmental toxins as well as wastes produced through metabolism, which act as irritants in our bodies, causing soreness, headaches, fatigue and irritability. By creating and promoting movement within the circulatory and lymphatic systems, wastes can be filtered from the bloodstream by our kidneys and removed from our bodies.
Massage therapy may also include hydrotherapy, the therapeutic use of water, as well as non-water heat and cold applications, such as electric heat pads and frozen gel packs. Heat applications that cause us to sweat are also detoxifying, as wastes are also removed from our bodies through sweating.
Massage therapy is a key component of stress management. During times of mental and emotional stress, and for some of us this is daily, our adrenal glands increase production of the hormone cortisol, sometimes called the "stress hormone", due to its involvement in our "fright, fight or flight" response; as well, prolonged high levels of cortisol interfere with our immune system function and perpetuate inflammation. Massage therapy has been shown to immediately lower cortisol levels when measured in saliva tests before and after treatment, due to the increased release of the hormone oxytocin from the pituitary gland in the brain. Oxytocin has a well known role in childbirth and breastfeeding, and many other positive effects; it has an anti-depressant effect, lowers blood pressure, decreases pain, and increases feelings of love, caring and social bonding. Oxytocin levels increase in response to massage therapy, as well as to hugging, yoga, exercise, and social support.
Education about your body and learning techniques for self-care, including stretching, therapeutic exercise, hydrotherapy, and recommendations for changing harmful habits and ergonomics, are all excellent reasons to make massage therapy a regular part of your health care. Like anything to do with our bodies -exercise, eating, sleeping- massage therapy has the most noticeable and accumulative benefits when experienced regularly.