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Massage Alleviates Stress, Improves Pain

Massage therapy has been helping people relax for centuries. Stress can sap your energy, make you feel depressed and keep you from sleeping at night.

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Michael A. Sullivan, LMT, RYT200

It’s no wonder health providers recommend massages as a strategy for stress relief.

Massage therapy should never replace standard medical care; however, scientific evidence shows that it may help with back pain and can improve the quality of life for some people with depression and cancer. Regular clients say that aside from feeling relaxed after their sessions, they also have a more positive outlook on things in their life.

“Everyone should get a massage at least once a month,” said Michael A. Sullivan, a licensed massage therapist at Bon Secours In Motion. “Massage helps reset the muscles to their natural state. If stress is having a negative effect on your muscles, it can keep you from relaxing and even lead to pain.”

Decrease stress to help prevent health problems.

Health professionals warn people about constant stress because when it’s allowed to persist, it can contribute to serious health problems. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety are all associated with too much stress. It’s why federal health officials remind people every April during Stress Awareness Month to take time for themselves to alleviate stress.

Massage therapy helps the brain relax your muscles.

Getting a massage relaxes the nervous system by slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also decrease stress and pain hormones, reduce pain and enhance immune function.

Massage therapists use different techniques to help your body relax, but it’s your brain that allows the muscles to loosen.

“When you get a massage, your muscles send a signal to the brain that it’s time to relax,” Sullivan said. “The brain catches on and changes the muscles.”

If you’re just starting with massage therapy for stress, Sullivan recommends once a week for four to six weeks to help retrain your brain. After each session, the relaxed feeling you enjoy should last longer.

Massage therapy techniques

All massages boosts the circulation of oxygen-rich blood, but there are many types and variations. At Bon Secours In Motion, clients can choose from the following types of bodywork:

  • Swedish – a classic therapy designed to relax muscles and stimulate circulation.
  • Deep tissue or trigger point –  uses vigorous techniques on muscles at a deeper level. It can help athletes and those who have muscle tension and soreness.
  • Sports  –  releases tight, overworked muscles by combining deep tissue and Swedish techniques.
  • Injury/rehab  – promotes healing, mobility and flexibility to injured muscle and tissue. It can reduce recovery time by improving circulation of blood flow to injured muscles.
  • Pregnancy – after the first trimester, a massage can help women relax and relieve strained muscles.

+ Massage therapy is one of the physical therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion. Find a location near you to schedule an appointment.