TOUCH FOR HEALTH
Massage can benefit the body and the mind so, go on, treat yourself
Having a relaxing Swedish or vigorous deep tissue massage not only reduces stress, it calms the nervous system even as it increases blood flow to overworked muscles and organs.
In fact, a growing body of research suggests massage therapy as an evidence-based therapeutic modality for managing sub-acute and chronic low back pain, and anxiety and stress, according to the Australian Association of Massage Therapists.
We asked Caitlin Bennetts, remedial massage therapist and owner of Bangalow and Ballina Remedial Massage clinics, about the benefits of therapeutic touch.
Q: How does massage help a person physically or emotionally?
A: Massage is beneficial on many levels, the most obvious being addressing physical pain and dysfunction. Good remedial massage relieves tight and sore muscles, promotes physical relaxation and improves circulation, which nourishes cells and improves waste elimination.
Other benefits can include release of nerve compression (carpel tunnel, sciatica), greater flexibility and range of motion, relief of tension headaches and sore necks/backs, speeding up recovery after an injury or surgery, enhanced energy and helping heal scar tissue as well as tendon, ligament, and muscle tears.
Massage helps on an emotional level as our emotions are stored in our body, and when we are not processing our emotions, chronic muscle tension can manifest and chronic pain can become present in the body.
Massage also increases the level of oxytocin – the feelgood hormone – therefore improving mood, reducing depression and anxiety, improving quality of sleep, lowering stress levels and reducing fatigue. Most of us can agree that getting a massage feels awesome. Massage helps to promote a positive body image, self-awareness and self-care.
Q: Can massage be useful for stress?
A: Massage is a great stress-reliever as it reduces the level of cortisol – the stress hormone – in your body, and helps your body to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system – which is the rest and digest response.
Q: What should people look for in a massage therapist?
A: A great massage therapist knows the technical stuff, the function of each muscle, pain referral patterns, trigger points etc, but it is also the massage therapist’s ability to be able to listen to what the client wants, and really ‘feel’ what is happening in someone’s body that is important.
A great massage combines a strong clear intent from the practitioner with the ability to apply different levels of pressure and using a range of modalities. A good relationship with the client, so they can allow their body to let go and heal, is also crucial.