I schedule massages for myself for a dual purpose - to reduce stress and to relieve pain. My clients schedule massages for a variety of reasons. Some people receive a massage to decrease their stress while others add a massage therapist to their therapeutic care team to address chronic concerns. Below are some of the most popular reasons that clients receive massages.
Some muscular pain can be caused by restricted fascia, tight muscles, and trigger points. Fascia is a web of connective tissue that is woven throughout your entire body. The discomfort from fascial restriction can often feel like muscular pain. Trigger points symptoms can range from a dull ache to a deep pain or even numbness. By using a variety of techniques, massage therapists can assist your body in releasing tense fascia, lengthening stiff muscles, and deactivating trigger points.
Physiological massage can increase dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins levels, and decrease cortisol levels. Dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are neurotransmitters that are responsible for our happiness. An increase in these neurotransmitters results in increased happiness. Specifically, raising your dopamine levels can improve your mood, motivation, and sleep; increasing your serotonin can enhance your mood and sense of well-being; and a surge in endorphins can alleviate anxiety. Often considered a negative hormone, cortisol is activated in the “fight or flight” response. While it can be helpful when you need to react to danger, sometimes your body needs assistance to calm this stress hormone. Massage does just that by decreasing the production of cortisol.
Massage is a wonderful form of self-care. It can be a rare moment in your week to relax and dedicate time just for you. By giving yourself the time and space to care for your body, you may experience emotional and mental benefits from your massage. One client said it simply, “I feel human again!”
Creating space in the joints and lengthening the muscles tends to increase flexibility. In addition, your therapist can perform proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) to assist in stretching your muscles. This technique confuses your muscles’ stretch receptors which allows your body to maximize its stretch. Once your muscles learn their new and increased degree of stretch, your flexibility improves.
Temporalmandibular joint pain can be caused by tight muscles and trigger points in the face and neck. If this is the main goal of your session, your massage therapist will most likely focus on your upper torso, targeting the muscles in the head, neck, and chest.
Headaches can be caused by physical or mental stress. If the pain is due to physical tension, your massage therapist will apply specific techniques to lengthen tight muscles, stimulate weak muscles, and decrease discomfort caused by trigger points. If the headaches are due to mental stress, massage can help decrease your stress by stimulating the body’s release of the neurotransmitters dopamine, seratonin, and endorphins. An increase in these neurotransmitters often results in an increase in happiness.