For thousands of years massage therapy has been used to alleviate pain and restore balance. But in today’s world, 50% of that thousands of years history is missing: the part of balance restoration. Here at Treatmint we meet clients where they are, listen, and formulate a bodywork plan specifically tailored to you, the client. The large percentage of what we encounter is neck and back discomfort from desk-itis (the discomfort and pain associated with prolonged hours at a desk, staring at a screen in unnatural positions), discomfort from a previous injury, and those who visit monthly to avoid physical pain altogether. What about the mind? Can regular massage therapy help mental health?
Massage therapy works because it is a purposeful manipulation of muscles, tendons, and joints. These three tissues represent the supporting cast for posture, pliability, and function. When bad habits compromise the integrity of these tissues, pain becomes an issue. As we all know, when physical pain is an ongoing issue, anxiety inevitably follows. Massage therapy, when done correctly, alleviates associated pain which directly affects mental function and ease of function. Imagine a life where your pain was managed; a life where your thoughts can be solely on the task at hand and not those nagging pains that increase anxiety. Massage therapy by a skilled professional can greatly benefit your mind and body.
The human touch is critical. Human touch is a powerful and subtlety potent ally in the pursuit of wellness. We live in a climate of never-ending news cycles, social media 24/7 which bombards us with constant ways to compare ourselves to others; a real time world that pushes too much information into our minds as we cling to our devices. The human touch is a very real and naturally calming remedy. Study after study reveals that regular massage therapy improves overall wellness. The human touch is a major factor in this betterment because it involves caring, comfort, and human connection. Cortisol levels decrease with regular massage therapy. Blood pressure is decreased with massage therapy. Other stress inducing chemicals are decreased with regular massage therapy. But, specifically, what mental health and wellness issues are bettered through massage therapy?
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Energy levels
What unlikely physical issues are bettered through massage therapy?
- Heart health
- Cancer pain management
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Myofascial pain syndrome
Massage therapy does more than decrease the bad, it increases the good! The brain chemical serotonin, out brain’s natural happy juice, is increased – facilitating your body to produce serotonin naturally. Oxytocin levels are also increased. Oxytocin is a hormone that greatly benefits female reproductive health. After all, decreasing the bad is only half the job. Replacing bad with good is the real goal!
Lastly, massage therapy is a low-risk treatment. Sure, deeper tissue work will cause next day soreness, but the overall benefits far outweigh mild discomfort. That said, massage therapy should never be painful. If you are experiencing pain during your massage treatment, communicate with your therapist your discomfort level and your licensed professional will be more than happy to adjust pressure to a more effective level.
It is natural to think of neck and back pain when you think of massage therapy. However, I encourage you to also consider what massage will do for your mental focus. As I’ve clarified, massage therapy both directly (naturally producing chemicals) and indirectly (pain reduction = anxiety reduction) affects our mental health. We invite you to have an open mind as to the ways this practice will improve your mind.
By Ryan Sheppard LMT, NMT
Treatmint Massage Therapy