Massage Benefits And Massage Uses
There are many types of massage and ever so many massage benefits and massage uses. I will be discussing several massage methods in this article.
Regardless your age, massage has its benefits and uses.
Benefits And Uses Of Craniosacral Therapy Massage
The craniosacral system consists of membranes, cerebrospinal fluid that envelopes the brain and spinal cord, and attached bones.
It begins at the top, with the bones of the skull, face, and mouth (which are referred to as the cranium), then extends down the spine all the way to tailbone area (the sacrum).
The job of the craniosacral system is to protect the brain and spinal cord from any injuries and bruising while cerebrospinal fluid provides nourishment to the spinal cord and brain.
The Origins of CST
Craniosacral therapy (CST) was first developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s after carefully studying the works of William Garner Sutherland, D.O. (1873 – 1954) who devised several manual osteopathy techniques.
He was the first to conceptualize the cranial approach.
According to Dr. Upledger, “Craniosacral therapy is a very soft touch; hands-on method of treatment…
This treatment improves the health of the brain and spinal cord, which in turn, affects the whole body.”
Craniosacral therapy often referred to as Cranial sacral therapy massage) is one type of alternative therapy, which concentrates on monitoring the cerebrospinal fluid by increasing and normalizing its flow through the bones of the spine, head, and pelvis.
Blockages are removed, and health is restored to the entire body when this happens.
CST uses the power of gentle, therapeutic touch to manipulate the joints of the cranium by applying a soft touch to the bones found in the spinal column, head and sacrum to release tension, stress and pain.
This type of therapy is a form of alternative medicine, which only means it is not part of the standard care of medicine.
There are many examples of alternative practices, and most of them have been in practice since the dawn of time.
Many include homeopathy, traditional medicine, chiropractic, and acupuncture.
The Theory Behind CST
Not long ago the medical community believed the skull was one entity, and that its bones were one rigid piece.
It was about 50 years ago when doctors proved that these bones were, in fact, mobile and must have freedom of motion for the craniosacral system to function at an optimal level.
The body has many systems working on their own, as well as in synchronization with other systems so that your body remains the well-oiled machine that it is.
One such system is the craniosacral system, which is affected by many outer influences.
When that effect is negative, it throws off the rhythm of the craniosacral system, thus negatively affecting other systems and, subsequently, the entire body.
Sometimes the craniosacral rhythm becomes out of sync and CST can restore its rhythm to allow the cerebrospinal fluid to once again flow properly, resulting in improved functioning of other bodily systems and reducing pain and inflammation.
Cranial sacral therapy is a noninvasive way of restoring the natural position of the bones in the craniosacral system.
Part of the cranial-sacral therapy is allowing the bones in the cranium to move freely, even though their range of motion is limited this helps in alleviating any form of constrictions and pressure.
Also, it improves the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid.
Many people worldwide suffer from migraine headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation.
They are triggered and of course, exacerbated by not getting enough sleep and increased levels of stress.
The cranial sacral massage releases the pent-up stress and allows for the bones to breathe thus creating a healthy rhythmic flow of fluids.
One form of this massage is scalp massage.
Melissa Wheeler, massage therapist and teacher training coordinator for the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville, California says,
“Many people simply don’t realize that we have muscles on our scalp.
Those muscles on our scalp are responsible for making our facial expressions. That can lead to a lot of tension there, especially when staring at a computer all day or when we are under a lot of stress.”
When the head is massaged, all the tension melts away.
Somato Emotional Release is another component of CST; this is a form of therapy where the mind-body connection is used in the healing process from trauma and traumatic experiences.
Through SER (Somato Emotional Release), feelings and reservations have a safe way of releasing from the body.
There are times when therapist and client need to talk to reach the best way to release these emotions.
Other times, a client will leave it up to the therapist who tunes in closely to the body to help with the process of letting go of repressed feelings and restrictions.
CST can help treat and alleviate the pain of the following:
• Inflammation Of The Joint Connecting Lower Jaw To Skull (Temporomandibular Joint)
• Neck And Back Pain
• Chronic Injuries
• Attention Deficit Disorder
• Bipolar Disorder
• Birth Trauma
• Certain Nervous System Disorders
Who should not have CST?
Medical experts advise against trying CST in case of the following conditions:
• A recent stroke
• A recent concussion
• Suspicion of an aneurysm
• Bleeding in the brain or cranium
• Severe systemic infections
What to Expect
Craniosacral therapy is a full body treatment, which can last from 30 minutes to a full hour.
Clients are asked to lie on a massage table while they remain fully clothed, face up.
The therapist starts at the head and neck area, focusing on the cranial base located at the back of the skull.
This area is crucial since it is where stress and blockages are commonly attributed to be the cause of many types of headaches.
The jaw is also a major place for stress to accumulate.
Therefore, when cranial sacral therapy is administered to this area, it helps to loosen tight joints, removes tension in the jaw, and alleviates pain and fatigue.
Another area of focus is the sacrum.
Therapists focus on this area to relieve stress, general back pain, stress, an improved sense of balance, as well as chronic fatigue.
The primary goal is to return the craniosacral system to its natural, rhythmic flow.
Then the therapist starts looking at different areas of the client’s body where they sense the rhythm might be off.
Restrictions occurring anywhere on the body can even cause problems in an entirely different place; in the neck could result in lower back pain; in the foot may sound in the gluteal regions; in the cranium might be causing migraines.
A lack of proper flow in the head could also be the reason behind neck and ear aches.
Benefits And Uses Of Hot Stone Massage
It’s hard to find a person that isn’t dealing with a lot of stress in this day and age.
Relationships and work are often the two most prominent causes of stress in our lives.
Muscle tension and stress can lead to some serious health issues, which is why you should dedicate a part of your day to relaxing.
A hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy that helps you relax, eases muscle stiffness, and increases metabolism and circulation.
It is a natural therapy in which warmed stones are positioned on different parts of your body.
They are usually placed along your spine, on your chest, face, stomach, feet, and palms.
The use of these hot stones is what makes this type of massage unique.
The stones that are used are typically made out of basalt, which is a material known for retaining heat.
This type of massage has been popular for a long time.
In fact, Native Americans used to treat aching muscles by placing hot stones on them.
The stones used for this massage are very smooth and just the right temperature, so this therapy isn’t painful.
If, however, you sense that the stones are too hot, let your massage therapist know immediately.
Although this is a great therapy and offers many massage benefits, it is not suited for anyone who is on medication that thins the blood, nor is it suitable for people who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Pregnant women should also avoid this therapy.
In fact, if you’re suffering from any illness, make sure you consult your doctor before deciding to get a hot stone massage.
This therapy may start with some classic massage technique to prepare your body’s muscle tissues.
The therapist will then apply massage oil to your body and use gliding movements to move the stones along your muscles.
The therapist will also place the stones on specific parts of your body and leave them there for a particular time.
This type of massage usually lasts somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes.
Just like any other massage therapy, this one will also provide you with some great health benefits.
Your massage therapist will be able to manipulate your deep tissues much more effectively after your muscles relax properly thanks to the heat of the stones.
Although generally all massages are known for relieving pain, a hot stone massage does a better job than most.
Considering the intense nature of this massage, you will experience much greater pain relief during it.
The massage therapist will be able to penetrate deeper thanks to the fact that this therapy incorporates heat.
Some people get massages as opposed to taking sleeping pills to fight insomnia.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing as how massages are known for promoting relaxation.
Most people are so stressed out every day that they have no idea just how much anxiety and stress have built up inside of them.
Having mental clarity and peace of mind is something that most people think is hard to achieve.
However, know that you can easily achieve it just by getting a quality massage. In fact, a hot stone massage may also combat certain symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
As soon as the massage therapist starts putting heated stones on the trigger points of your body, the heat will start penetrating through your skin and into your deeper body tissues.
Once this happens, your blood vessels will open, thus improving your circulation.
If your circulation is good, more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles.
This will help ease muscle pain and aches.
General Relaxation and Stress Relief
A hot stone massage, like many other forms of massage, melts away stress, and the accompanying aches, pains and mental turmoil that it brings.
The relaxation response elicited within the body through hot stone massage helps the body heal and brings calm to the body, mind, and spirit to counteract the many adverse effects of stress.
Benefits And Uses Of Swedish Massage
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study examining the effects of Swedish massage.
Just one session had a positive effect on the body’s immune function and hormonal response.
The researchers concluded that just one session produces biological effects that are measurable and may have a positive effect on the immune system.
Of course, besides all the numerous benefits for the health of mind, body, and spirit, massage simply feels great!
It can help elevate your mood and relax you, to promote happiness and a general sense of well-being.
The Swedish massage is probably the most well-known and common type of massage.
It falls under the category of relaxation massage, and this technique uses long strokes, deep circular movements, vibration, kneading, and tapping.
There are various techniques that may be used in one Swedish massage session, including hot stones and reflexology.
Every therapist will operate differently, but it’s vital that you get your massage from a licensed and trained therapist. You may choose to have a gentle and relaxing session or a more vigorous and bracing massage.
If you are looking to have a specific pain issue worked on you should look for a clinical massage or sports therapy. Swedish massage is designed for stress relief and relaxation.
Every massage is different, and each type is defined by the strokes and style that is used. Every Swedish massage starts with your skin being lubricated with massage oil or lotion.
Some therapists choose to use lotion rather than oil because it provides better traction to grip the muscle tissue.
The initial strokes will warm the muscles and work them at the same time, breaking up any knots and releasing muscle tension.
According to WebMD, Swedish massage therapists use five different stroke techniques during the massage.
• Petrissage is a method that uses kneading and squeezing- it works deep into the muscles, breaking up those nasty knots.
• Effleurage is those long, sweeping strokes over the entirety of your body, rather than focusing on one area.
This is usually the stroke that begins and ends the session.
• The percussion technique is the tapping or chopping motion.
• Stretching is used for the therapist to manipulate your limbs into various positions to stretch those muscles.
• The friction technique is a series of short strokes, or circular strokes, generating heat. These strokes follow the muscle fiber lines or go against them to break up tight areas in the muscle tissue.
Swedish massage is very popular because it has so many benefits that range from improved emotional wellbeing to physical health.
The physical benefits include:
• The breakdown of knots in your muscles
• Improved blood circulation and flow
• Pain relief
• Release of lymphatic and metabolic wastes from the tissues
• The Mayo Clinic points to some conditions that can benefit from massage, including digestive disorders, headaches, anxiety, fibromyalgia, soft tissue injuries, insomnia, and more.
Regarding the mental benefits…
• Swedish massage provides relaxation
• Reduces stress – Because of the reduction in stress, it has an effect on your physical health, too, by increasing your immune system’s ability to fight illness and disease.
• Boosts positive mood and general feelings of wellbeing
If you feel run down, or you are always stressed, you are dealing with depression, or you have trouble sleeping, then Swedish massage is a perfect choice.
We are surrounded by stress every day, but it’s how our body can handle it that makes the difference between poor health, and your body’s ability to bounce back.
With a reduction in stress and a stronger immune system, you will find it easier to fall into a healthy sleep cycle.
A good night’s sleep has an important effect on your immune system too, as sleep is when your body heals and your mind gets to rest and de-stress.
Make sure to find a reputable and licensed massage therapist.
It is also very important to advise the therapist of any medical conditions you may have, and it is proper practice for them to ask.
Massage therapists offer private services at your home, or you can visit a spa.
You typically have the choice of a male or female therapist.
If money is an issue, massage schools offer very low rates for massages delivered by students, and it’s a great way to save money and still reap the benefits of Swedish massage.
How Massage Therapy Heals Physical Pain
Massage therapy is the ancient healing practice with numerous physical and mental benefits.
Anyone who enjoys massage knows how wonderful it feels.
It is truly one of the best and more relaxing treats we can give ourselves. However, massage goes way beyond just being a feel good activity; it has real medicinal benefits and is a therapy that is used more and more as medicine to treat various medical conditions.
You will be able to relax both physically and mentally, which lowers heart and respiratory rates, and blood pressure.
It can significantly reduce the physical and mental effects of stress and also helps boost the immune system.
In general, massage is one of the greatest wellness tools for the health of the mind, body, and spirit.
There are many types of massage therapy such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology and acupressure massages which people use for relaxation and wellbeing, in addition to addressing specific sources of pains and aches.
One of the goals of massage is to help relieve tension in muscle tissue where there is tension and stress.
All that built-up tension can cause restriction in our blood circulation as well as the supply of nutrients going to all the body’s tissues and organs; massage can help decrease nerve compression, increase joint space, and range of motion.
This may lead to decreased pain, as well as increased function in mobility and range of motion.
It also helps with circulation, which helps improve the way oxygen and nutrients are delivered to muscle cells and help remove waste products.
Massage therapy can help reduce the symptoms of depression such as lethargy and anxiety.
Tiffany Field, Ph.D. from the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine says…
“The healing power of touch extends across the lifespan, from helping babies grow and children concentrate at school to decreasing chronic illnesses and disease.”
This type of ancient healing offers true benefits, so much so that some conventional hospitals are making it a standard therapy for patients.
Along with helping with relaxation and improving sense of well-being, getting a massage has been shown to:
• Relieve general pain
• Decrease symptoms of PMS
• Provide arthritis relief by increasing joint flexibility
• Release nerve compression (carpal tunnel, sciatica)
• Increase relaxation by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine.
• Decrease stress by reducing the production of cortisol (the stress hormone)
• Provide relief for tight muscles and increases their flexibility
• Helps fibromyalgia pain
• Helps with recovery from injuries
• Reduce joint pain, stiffness, soreness and injuries
• Decrease swelling (or edema)
• Improve sleep
• Alleviate acute and chronic lower back pain
• Help lower blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, and depression
• Improve athletic performance and helps prevent sports injuries
• Pain Related To Cancer, HIV and Parkinson’s Disease
• Muscle tension in back, shoulders and neck pain
• Myofascial Pain Syndrome
• Rotator Cuff Syndrome
• Frozen Shoulder
Research shows that those who receive massage on a regular basis have a reduced level of anxiety than those who don’t.
One study found that receiving regular massages could help lower blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones in those with hypertension and migraine headaches.
The best part about this type of therapy is that it affects the nervous system via nerve endings.
This helps to stimulate the release of endorphins (our body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals). Endorphins help increase the sense of relaxation and well-being. It also helps relieve pain and reduces levels of stress chemicals (such as cortisol).
Massage helps promote circulation of the blood, which boosts the supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues in the body.
It also helps to flush toxins from the lymph nodes.
Of course, massage is excellent at melting tension, knots, and stress from stiff muscles and joints, and this helps to improve mobility and flexibility.
Experts advise that massage stimulates activity of the vagus nerve that controls the secretion of food absorption hormones, breathing, and heart rate.
Massage is also noted as being particularly useful in working out stress-related tension from the body, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of disease.
If you live with chronic pain for whatever reason or you have some acute pain from an injury look into a getting a massage from a trained and licensed massage therapist, it may help your pain and also help you to feel better emotionally and mentally.
How Regular Massage Boosts Your Mood
We all know how a good massage can make us feel relaxed and give us a better outlook on life.
However, did you know that there are many real health benefits to massage? Regular massage has amazing mood-boosting abilities that will have your overall mental outlook improved in ways you did not think possible.
Massage Changes Immune Function
In a study published by Massage Magazine, a 25-minute massage was capable of inducing many physiological reactions in participants. Participants who received the 25-minute massage had lowered serum cholesterol levels, the findings of the study suggested that massage not only boosted immune function but also supported and promoted general good health.
Maintenance of the major blood markers such as cholesterol can do wonders for improving mood, especially for long time sufferers.
Improves Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, and depression is attributed to lowered or irregular serotonin levels.
Massage can help those with low serotonin levels because it boosts the body’s natural ability to produce serotonin.
Everyday Health reports that those who receive regular massage can expect to see an increase in their serotonin levels and a subsequent drop in depression and pain.
Reduces Stress Hormones
Everyday Health reports that regular massage also reduces the presence of stress hormones in the body, including cortisol and adrenaline.
The reduction of these hormones in the body leads to a host of positive mood changes for the person receiving regular massage therapy.
In one study, participants who received 6, 30-minute massages over the course of 2 weeks reported that they had a reduction in anger, sadness, and stress.
The key to enjoying these positive benefits of massage is to make sure that you are receiving a massage with moderate pressure.
This type of pressure will activate the healing properties of massage therapy.
As Beneficial As Medical Treatments
The American Massage Therapy Association has noted several studies that show how regular massage therapy can improve the symptoms of many medical conditions.
These conditions include many mood related disorders.
The AMTA cites links to massage therapy combined treatment effectiveness with the following disorders:
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
• Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
The studies linking the combined treatment of massage therapy and traditional medicine to improved moods for these patients show how massage significantly affected the mood of those patients receiving massage therapy to significantly improve treatment outcomes.
When we think of mood-boosting benefits, it can be easy to bottleneck those thoughts into those related to alleviating depressed mood and anxiety.
However, massage can boost your mood by just improving your overall quality of life.
Think about how your outlook would benefit from things like improved flexibility and decreased healing time after an injury?
Well, massage therapy can do these things for you.
Licensed Massage Therapists can help address soft tissue damage and disorders.
Massage can help you loosen tight muscles and work on tight ligaments and tendons to increase your flexibility.
These types of improvements in your daily activities can lead to great boosts in overall mood.
Decreased Healing Time
Massage increases blood flow to massaged muscles.
With small tissue injuries like sprains and strains, massage has been shown to reduce the healing time associated with these types of injuries.
Of course, you should always let your massage therapist know what type of injury you’re dealing with to ensure they use proper technique to assist with the healing process.
Give It A Try
Everybody reacts differently to massage.
You may find that it takes a few massage sessions before you can relax enough to reap the benefits of your massage therapy sessions.
If you would like to see how massage therapy could improve your mood, the only real way to know is to find a local licensed massage therapist.
Make sure that they are licensed and that they have the proper training so that you can see all the benefits that their training has to offer.
Massage is a wonderful way to improve your emotional and mental state.
By simply enjoying the relaxing therapeutic touch that massage offers you, you can boost your mood, and regular massages can ensure that you feel good in mind, body, and spirit for the long-term!
A word of caution: If you have any doubt or if you have any health issue do consult with a health care professional.
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