A Massage can be helpful to us humans.
Some people may see massage only as a luxury “frill” that just feels good. Others see it as a treatment that is “only” good for relieving stress and for relaxing, and so discount it as an important, necessary treatment. Actually, it’s ability to treat stress is a very strong argument for the necessity of massage. Many people are not aware either of their own stress levels, or how damaging stress can be to their body.
According to the American Institute of Stress, it is estimated that “75% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems.” Chronic stress, such as comes from job pressures, peer pressures, increased threats to personal safety, loneliness, and the loss of social/family/religious supports, causes an increase in stress-related hormones, such as cortisol. Additionally, stress increases sympathetic nervous system activity which, along with the stress hormones result in autonomic changes in the body.
Examples of these changes are: increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood sugar level, blood is moved away from the digestive system, and blood clots more quickly.
These changes can be beneficial for short periods of time, but chronic, continued exposure to them can contribute to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, ulcers, neck and low back pain, and can impair the immune system. Given all of this, someone who gets massage “just” to treat stress, is also potentially treating, in a preventative way, a host of other conditions.
In addition to, and in some cases as a result of, decreasing stress hormones and reducing sympathetic nervous system activity, there are many other positive physiological effects that massage can have on the body. These are:
- Increased blood circulation and lymph flow. This results in increased nutrition to the cells of the body and an increase in the wastes carried away from the cells. Additionally, this can help to reduce swelling.
- Increases the number of natural killer cells, thereby improving the function of the immune system.
- Increases alertness and mental performance, as proven by improved EEG activity readings.
- Decreases heart rate.
- Increases the oxygen carrying capacity of blood.
- Increases skin function by affecting oil and sweat glands.
- Increases secretions and excretions throughout the body and affects the internal organs.
- Breaks up/loosens fascial adhesions and scar tissue.
Through these effects, massage can help the body fine-tune itself and work more efficiently. Getting a massage, for this reason, could be called “Wellness” or “Maintenance” massage, and in some people’s view is the most important reason to get a massage. However, these effects also can play an important role in treating specific conditions.
The following conditions have been shown to benefit from massage, either by research and/or repeated client testimonials. Some conditions may benefit directly, while others primarily benefit indirectly.
- Sports injuries / Reduced range of motion
- TMJ dysfunction (temporomandibular joint)
- Chronic pain, such as from:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- low back pain
- cancer pain
- general pain
- Acute pain, such as from:
- Burn patients
- post-operative pain
- Auto-immune disorders:
- Circulatory problems
- Digestive disorders
- spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Dry/inelastic skin (scleroderma/hidebound)
- Depression and anxiety, as may be seen with:
- chronic fatigue, bulimia/anorexia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, elder depression,
- abused/neglected kids
- Low birth weight due to premature birth
- Autism and ADHD – can facilitate alertness
Contra-indications simply mean reasons that massage should not be done. In some cases, it may mean not doing massage on a particular area of the body, and in other cases, it could mean not doing massage at all for the time being. In many cases, it might simply mean not doing a particular type of technique, either in a certain area or in general. In some instances, a condition might be considered a contra-indication, while in other instances that same condition might actually benefit from massage.
This means that the decision on when to do massage in general or specific techniques must be made on a case by case basis between the client and the therapist. In some cases, a doctor’s clearance should be sought. It is important that therapists and clients communicate about these issues. The following are common contra-indications that a therapist should be made aware of:
- Fever / systemic infections
- Very recent surgery
- Recent concussion
- Aneurism / Stroke
- Open wounds/sores
- Varicose veins / Blood clots
- Infectious skin diseases (ringworm, poison ivy, others)
- Acute sprains/strains / Acutely inflamed joints
This list is not all-inclusive. Talk to your therapist if you have any of these or other conditions, and ask which ones should have a doctor’s consultation.
The Big Picture
To massage somebody is to touch them. To touch them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. These four aspects of human beings are interconnected, and what affects one aspect will ultimately affect the others. Yet, in our society, the frequency of positive, healthy touch is becoming less and less.
Physical touch is perhaps our most basic sense, the very first sense. Before we can see, smell, taste, or hear, the cells of the embryo are touching one another. The embryo itself is touching the uterus, and the fetus is touched by and massaged by the uterus as it moves within the womb. We instinctively want to touch the unborn child by touching the mother’s pregnant belly. The crying baby is comforted by the calming touch of a parent’s embrace. We intuitively want to reach out and touch another person when they are in pain.
Furthermore, all of the other senses could be described as specialized touch: food touches the taste buds, odor molecules touch receptors in the nose, light waves and particles touch the cones and rods in the retina of the eye, and sound waves touch the hair cells in the inner ear.
We all need to be touched in a compassionate way. We all need a massage! Visit our massage places in malta page for more details