Stress Kills; We Can Help

Many people might think that massage is too expensive or just a luxury, not a necessity. Some might say, “Only people with butlers and maids who send their clothes off to be dry cleaned and buttons sewn back on can afford it. Besides, it’s only good to relax, and I don’t have an hour to sit with cucumbers on my eyes!” Well, stress kills, and we can help.

With the every-day stresses that accompany our daily lives, stress can be a really silent, slow killer. The only way you can escape it is if you are a care-free three-year-old only playing and eating what you want! We, as a society, tend to over-stretch our glutes and back muscles while shortening our pecs and hamstrings, just to be very general. We have forward head posture, which causes Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which can cause headaches and does cause numbness in our hands. We spend hours at computers working and Facebooking and watching TV or YouTube in awful positions that end up causing us pain or muscle strain. We spend loads of time texting and on our phone and while we are talking about phones, we still try to hold our skinny smart phones between our ear and shoulder while we are talking on it. We get in car accidents, slip on ice, fall down stairs, stub our toes and run into things. And that’s not even getting into the psychological stresses: deadlines, weddings, divorces, kids, no kids, kids sports and activities, church or other volunteer opportunities, pets, significant others, roommates, parents, siblings, extended family, in-laws, job changes, job promotions, new managers, new co-workers, losing jobs, sleep deprivation, sickness, technology not working, phone contracts, internet installation, turning 50, pluming issues, car work, and the list goes on.

 

Stress of any kind raises cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Cortisol is good. It’s that feeling you get that lights a fire under you so you do what you need to do. It regulates your metabolism and blood sugar levels; it’s anti inflammatory and helps with memory storage in your brain; it regulates your blood pressure. So you can’t just remove it from your body and call it good. If you were to do that, you would have all sorts of other bad symptoms. Too much cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood swings, and muscle weakness.

 

You can regulate its production by one of many de-stressing ways:

  • Go for a walk
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn how to say no (especially when your plate is full)
  • Voice your feelings, in a healthy, respectful way
  • Do yoga
  • Accept things you cannot change
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Be less busy
and, of course….
  • Get a massage
Massage can lower cortisol levels. An old CNN article pointed out many benefits of massage, so this is not some new study you’ve never had access to. Massage works in helping with stress–physical, emotional, psychological, and sometimes even spiritual.
We also have some great essential oils that you can take with you everywhere you go. Check out our post about Stress Away.

101 Ways Massage Will Improve Your Life

Massage really has a million benefits, but here is a quick list of 101 ways massage can and does improve lives every day.

Psychological:

1. Reduce Stress

2. Reduce Anxiety

3. Reduces depression

4. Can help to gain new perspectives by relaxing the mind which can help create new neuropathways

5. An escape from life / mini vacation

6. Helps you become more self-aware by knowing what is going on in your body

7. Increase mindfulness

8. Boost mental health and wellness

9. Increase vitality

10. Increases sense of well-beingSpaFinder

11. Increases productivity

12. Can help increasing reaction time

13. Can increase alertness

14. Increase mental clarity

Physical:

15. Improves posture

16. Increase range of motion

17. Decrease chronic pain

18. Decrease tension headaches and frequency of migraines

19. Hydrates and revitalizes skin

20. Reduce spasms and cramping

21. Keeps discs healthy

22. Decreases pressure on the joints

23. Decrease stiffness

24. Help manage carpal tunnel

25. Decrease jaw pain

26. Help manage chronic jaw issues

27. Ease sciatica

28. Reduce tender points

29. Increases metabolism

30. Reduces lactic acid build up

31. Lower Blood pressure

32. Reduce acute pain

33. Increase blood flow

34. Increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues

35. Can aid in elimination

36. Ease pain in stomach from food poisoning

37. Ease chronic symptoms for post-polio sufferers

38. Increases blood flow to organs, allowing them to function better

39. Early detection of skin cancer

40. Help ease pain in clients in hospice care

41. Help ease painful oncology treatments

42. Reduces nausea in chemotherapy patients

43. Decrease and in some cases eliminate scar tissue

44. Strengthens immune system

45. Decreases recovery time post-surgery

46. In some cases, prevent surgery for tendonitis

47. Help decrease pain for sufferers of plantar faciitis

48. Lessen the effects of rheumatoid or osteoarthritis

49. Decrease numbness or tingling in extremities

50. Decrease the pain associated with scoliosis, lordosis, or kyphosis

51. Aid in recovery from strains or sprains

52. Decrease the pain from upper crossed syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome

53. Aid in sinus health

Athletics / Fitness:bigstock-athlete-running-sport-feet-on-44182534

54. Decreases recovery from workouts

55. Decreases recovery time from an injury

56. Makes exercise easier

57. Helps with exercise gains

58. Reduce muscle tension

59. Help athletes monitor muscle tone

60. Promote relaxation

61. Reduce muscle hypertonicity

62. Improve soft tissue function

63. Support recovery from the transient immunosuppression state

64. Support the recovery of heart rate variability and diastolic blood pressure after high intensity exercise

65. Decrease muscle stiffness and fatigue after exercise

66. Improve exercise performance

67. Decrease DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

68. Reduce serum creatine kinase post exercise

69. Reduce swelling

70. Reduce irregular breathing patterns

71. Enhance athletic performance

72. May help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly

73. Is the most efficient self-care regiment tor maintaining maximal athletic performance

Sleep and breathing:

74. Improve sleep

75. Increase sleep hours

76. Improve quality of sleep

77. Overcome feelings of fatigue

78. Practice deep breathing

79. Practice breathing

Pregnancy / women’s health:

80. Decrease discomfort during pregnancy

81. Assist in shorter, easier labor for expecting mothers

82. Decrease bloating, cramping, mood swings, and other PMS related symptoms

Hormones:

83. Balance hormones

84. Decrease urninary CRF-LI (a biochemical marker of stress-related symptoms

85. Decrease cortisol levels

86. Releases endorphines

Infants (Results of a case study):

87. Massage is a cost-effective therapy for pre-term infants.baby massage

88. Pre-term infants gained more weight with just 5 days of massage

89. Massage therapy by mothers in perinatal period serves as a strong time cue, enhancing coordination of the developing circadian system with environmental cues.

90. Over the 6-week period, the massage therapy infants gained more weight, showed greater improvement on emotionally, sociability, and soothability temperament dimensions and had greater decreases in urinary stress catecholamines/hormones (norepinepherine, epinephrine, cortisol).

91. Infants receiving massage showed fewer sleep delay behaviors and had a shorter latency to sleep onset by the end of the study

92. Massage may have a stress reducing effect on pre-term infants in the NICU.

93. Reduction of illness and diarrheal episodes in orphaned children in Ecuador

Medications:

94. Decrease use of analgesics

95. Ease medication dependence

Overall:

96. Great place to start for making changes

97. Improve health status

98. Improve quality of life

99. Work well in an integrative treatment plan

100. Increase the improvement when paired with other alternative health regiments (chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, and more)

101. Valuable component of your wellness program

Sources:

MassageTherapy.com

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

Huffington Post

MedicineNet

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)

Stay Healthy, Stay Happy

It might seem like this is a little preemptive, but fall is almost upon us. School is starting soon, and back to school always seems to be a time when people start getting sick. The sooner you start strengthening your immune system, the less likely you will get sick.


Strengthening your immune system is something we all should consistently try to accomplish. Here are some great tips:

  • Stay active! Your lymphatic system does not have a pump like your circulatory system does. It’s “pump” is your skeletal muscles. When school starts and fall comes, we tend to move a little less, creating stagnation to our immune systems. So keep pumping that lymph! The Thrive! Wellness Center just launched the Thrive! Yoga program. Check out the flier for more information. If you don’t have much time, bouncing on your toes for a little is a great way to keep that lymph pumping. If you can, stay active outside–the vitamin D from the sun will also aid in your prevention efforts.
  • Get enough sleep! Our bodies do the most healing and regeneration when we are sleeping. If our sleep is off, either restless or limited, our bodies become more susceptible to illness. Preventing illness is not the only reason to get enough sleep. Weight loss and metabolism, memory and learning abilities, safety, mood, and cardiovascular health as well as disease prevention are the main reasons the Harvard Medical School says that sleep is important.
  • Eat well! What we put in our bodies is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. If you change your diet to all of the sweet goodness that fall offers, your body becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Here is a great article that talks about sugar and what you can do to avoid it. You can also make sure you’re eating some foods that are more vitamin D rich. Here is an article with the top 10 highest vitamin D foods. If you need further help with your diet, visit Enlightenment Nutrition Consulting.
  • Thieves Essential Oil Blend! I’ve talked about Thieves oil before, but I can’t say it enough–it helps keep you healthy! It fights off anything that is incubating in your body in the most gentle, natural way possible.
  • Get a massage! Or other bodywork. The same principle applies to getting a massage as staying active–your lymph system does not have a pump, and a massage helps to pump your lymph. Massage,acupuncturechiropractic, and the like all help boost your immune system. One of the great things about a massage is that you pump your immune system while you are relaxing, which is another great way to help your body heal and fight off infections.
If you follow these tips, I’m sure you will stay happy and healthy this season.

Fibromyalgia

The Mayo Clinic states, “Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

 

Fibromyalgia is a life long struggle of trying to find a balance that helps you manage the pain. Some people with fibromyalgia live practically symptom free with the right combination and only have a few flare ups a year. Massage therapy is one of the most highly recommended treatments for fibromyalgia management. It does this be decreasing stress as well as lowering heart rate and increasing relaxation. Many people with fibro also experience muscle spasms, and massage therapy can definitely decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of muscle spasms. The Mayo Clinic also talks about a few other alternative therapies to help manage fibro.

 

Sometimes, I will say, that fibromyalgia likes to play dirty tricks on you. Sometimes coming in for a massage really helps calm everything down, and other times, it’s a painful experience. That being said, not receiving a massage at all can be detrimental to your overall health.

Sports Massage

We help a lot of athletes with maintaining muscle health so they can do what they do best with less worry of injury. The Mayo Clinic describes Sports massage as, “This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.”
Athletes always run the risk of injury, and massage has been proven to help prevent or help recover from injuries. Whether it is a sprained ankle that you need to just keep weight off of it for a little, or a rotator cuff tear, massage therapy helps recover quicker.
 
A great article published by Pacific College talks about all of the benefits of massage for sports, and one of the aspects I really want to focus on is DOMS. This is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This can be debilitating for anyone, and athletes are always at risk for getting DOMS.
Massage prevents injury and soreness because one of the biggest benefits is increasing range of motion. The AMTA has a great article that lists 17 benefits of receiving massage therapy for those who exercise from promoting relaxation to increasing your training abilities.
Athletes all over the world employ massage therapists. Olympians brought their massage therapists to Sochi this year to help them stay loose and ensure they would perform as best as they could during the Olympics. If you are in your season or just training, make sure you are taking care of your muscles!