You’ve heard people say that after a particularly hard day, a massage is the best way to help you relax. But is there science-backed truth behind the effectiveness of massage to induce relaxation? Or is this just a matter of opinion?
Surely there are other ways to relax. When people are stressed out, they want to “unwind” or look for activities that will make them feel better, happier or “looser”. Body language is a good indicator of stress.
In the office you see people who have been working for hours trying to meet deadlines rotating their necks. Sometimes they will stand up, stretch or walk around. The purpose is to get circulation going because they feel “tight” after sitting for extended periods of time.
That feeling of tightness is actually the body’s natural reaction to a situation it perceives as stressful. Your body releases stress hormones called cortisol which heightens reaction time and increases focus. It will put you in the best condition to finish deadlines, hit the game winning free throw or ace that job interview.
However if there is no stress relief and cortisol levels remain elevated, the condition turns into “distress” which will expose you to a variety of health risks.
How do you know that you are under stress? Here are a few symptoms to look out for:
Here are the top 5 facts about stress that you may not have known about:
To summarize, stress is your body’s natural defense mechanism to risky situations. But prolonged stress will lead to chronic conditions which will affect your health in the long-term.
Therefore you must find ways to relax and decrease stress levels.
People find different ways to alleviate stress. Some feel like a night on the town with friends, knocking back a few tall, cool ales is the most effective way to find relief from stress. Then you have those who find comfort and relaxation behind a good book. Others will simply find a confidante to unburden his/her problems.
But the best activities to fight stress are those that help you relax as well as provide a host of health benefits.
Doctors have long recommended exercise as one of the best activities to alleviate stress. Physical activity helps improve blood circulation which strengthens your immune system and assist organ function.
Regular exercise also enhances the performance of your Central Nervous System (CNS) which controls your breathing, emotions, bodily functions, the release of hormones and body temperature.
But exercise especially when done intensely can become additional stressors to the body. You become fatigued, tired and experience physical symptoms such as muscle pain, frequent headaches, lack of sleep and appetite.
Why is massage beneficial? Because it does more than help you relax; it offers other wonderful benefits for your overall health and wellness.
Massage is the process of using various techniques of applying pressure on muscle tissue. The professionals who perform massage are called therapists. The usual form of massage involves the use of the therapist’s hands. But some techniques call for greater pressure on muscle tissue by applying elbows, forearms, feet and special tools.
If you want a massage, you no longer have to go to the nearby spa. Massages are offered at fitness centres, the airport and hospitals.
In Australia, there are agencies that bring massage therapists to your work place. Companies in Australia believe that massages reduce stress; keeps employees from getting sick, enhances performance through improved blood circulation and encourages a positive disposition.
There are also agencies that offer home-based massage services. You can also buy massage chairs so you can get treatment at home. Massage chairs have features that replicate the sensation of a massage session on your entire back area.
Massage therapy is a great way to relieve stress and offers you the following benefits:
Collectively, these seven benefits help you alleviate stress by decreasing the amount of cortisol in your body and guide its transition to recovery mode. You feel better after a massage. Your muscles no longer feel tight; you breathe easier and any symptom such as headaches or migraines will be gone.
Even though the conditions or problems that led to the stressful situation are still there, massage will give you a greater sense of clarity plus an improved level of focus. You feel more confident that you can address the situation more effectively. In some cases, people are able to find solutions after getting a massage.
The environment in a massage therapy session also helps you relax. In some spas, the therapist may play music designed for relaxation or use scents that you give you an overall feeling of peace, serenity and well-being. It is not uncommon for people to fall asleep during a session with the therapist.
Athletes regularly seek massage treatments after an intense workout session or a tough match. For them, massages reduce stress and helps release tension from tight muscles to aid in regaining mobility and flexibility. Improved blood flow will improve the uptake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food and supplements. Many athletes also believe getting a massage helps with the quality of sleep.
Rather than painting the town red with your friends after a stressful week at the office, consider getting a massage to help you relax. Massage is an effective activity to reduce stress levels naturally.
A good approach would be to maintain regular exercise with a massage session at least once a week. This combination will give you a holistic approach that will greatly help you manage stress levels while improving overall health, fitness and wellness.
While massages are generally safe, if you have blood clots, bruises, wounds, a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, it would be a good idea to secure medical clearance from your doctor before signing up for a therapy session.
Lastly, only contract the services of licensed massage therapists or reputable spas. When it comes to massage, always make sure you are in good hands.