Therapeutic massage is the mobilization of soft tissues such as muscles, body fluids, and fascia to restore their normal functional and systemic use. It is a safe and effective way to create harmony and balance from within. Therapeutic massage can be either soothing or stimulating depending on the depth, speed, and technique used. It is not only a beneficial therapy for people with stress but is also one of the healthiest options of improving an individual’s quality of life.
Massage therapy is considered part of integrative and complementary medicine. Over recent years, it is being offered along with standard treatment for different medical conditions and life situations. This article looks at whether therapeutic massage minimizes stress levels.
Massage Techniques Used to Reduce Stress
Therapeutic massage uses gentle pressure on soft tissues and aims to promote relaxation. High-stress levels increase anxiety, tension build-up, and muscular knots. Dopamine and serotonin are positive hormone endorphins within the blood that increase relaxation and give a sense of well-being. Increased blood flow leads to better tissue elasticity, which eases tension and prevents the formation of muscular knots. Some of the common techniques used to reduce stress include trigger pointing, deep strokes, and lymphatic drainage.
- Trigger Pointing
Trigger points are areas in your body prone to tension build-up and formation of muscular knots when stress levels are high. Trigger pointing is an effective technique that targets these areas to help reduce stress, headaches and referred pain. Massage therapists use their thumbs and fingers to apply firm pressure on these trigger points causing an ischemic reaction. This occurs when blood flow is restricted to a particular area on your body and then increases when the pressure is released, creating a numbing sensation. This helps to relieve both mental and physical stress and reduces pain and severe headaches.
- Deep Strokes
Deep strokes is another stress-reducing technique where firm pressure is applied deep within muscle tissues. Muscle stress often occurs from deeper tissues, which can cause restricted movement and increased pain. Deep strokes improve tissue elasticity by increasing muscle temperature thus decreasing pain. Increasing tissue elasticity reduces stress by easing tension and loosening the muscles.
- Lymphatic Drainage
The stimulation of the lymphatic system helps get rid of metabolic wastes from the body. Metabolic wastes can build up after surgery, an injury or extreme use of a muscle. It can result in weakness and muscle fatigue that result in pain and swelling. Decreasing muscle restriction and swelling pain help to reduce mental stress since you tend to feel fresh and rejuvenated after massage therapy.
Psychological Effects of Therapeutic Massage
The most common psychological effects that occur during a therapeutic massage include an increase in dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. All these neurotransmitters are released when the autonomic system is stimulated. Dopamine helps to prevent self-doubt by increasing your level of motivation. Serotonin gives a sense of well-being and prevents depression while endorphins are responsible for relieving anxiety. Therapeutic massage can improve the overall mood of an individual by reducing their level of stress and anxiety.
Another psychological effect of therapeutic massage is that it causes a decrease in cortisol. Cortisol is a negative hormone that increases anxiety, stress, and depression. It is released from the adrenal gland after stimulation of the hypothalamus. Too much cortisol is released into the blood and is transported around the body in response to factors such as pain. This increases your stress levels and suppresses your immune system. Therapeutic massage helps gets rid of cortisol and replaces it with positive hormones such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
Stress can be temporary such as being delayed at the airport or being stuck in traffic. It can also be a positive motivator when accomplishing an important task or striving for a promotion. However, stress can also be chronic when dealing with severe illness, financial difficulties or family issues. The event is not necessarily the one that causes stress but rather your body’s response to it. When the brain detects any kind of stress, your muscles begin to tighten and your blood pressure increases with every heartbeat. Feelings of stress can have a detrimental effect on the body if they continue for long periods. Therapeutic massage helps relieve stress by helping you relax and calm your body and mind.
Therapeutic massage can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression when administered by a licensed and trained practitioner. It allows you to shift your thoughts away from life situations that affect your state of mind. It plays a significant role in managing chronic illnesses and helps you feel in control over your health.