Most individuals seek massage therapy for bodily pain and discomfort that often arise from the wear and tear of active daily living. The severity of such may vary and be physical, mental or emotional. Such conditions often don’t have specific causes but they may be associated with traumatic accidents such as motor vehicle impacts or athletics. Correction in the latter is often straightforward but management of the former or the combination of all is not. The idea of management is simple but it is indeed a life long process.
All aspects of life impose strain on the body. Strain or stress helps us grow and become stronger when balanced with proper recovery and strengthening. Unfortunately such balance is elusive to most of us and the resulting strain that accumulates over time can be destructive in a broad range of ways. Hans Seyle refer to this as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). In the modern world, more people die from G.A.S. than from infections. The World Health Organization points non-communicable diseases, those of lifestyle, kill 41 million people each year. This is 71% of all deaths world-wide.
The general intent of massage is to facilitate our immune system to nurture recovery and to strength us against the strains where ever they may be and however they may be encumbering us. Touch draws attention to and create mindfulness of tension and restriction. The mechanical movement of the tissue helps to mobilize restriction and increase local circulation. The proper depth of pressure helps to lower unnecessarily heighten muscle tone. The support helps the induction of relaxation and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us restore. The Touch Research Institute have numerous reports of cortisol release in response to massage; this helps to cope with inflammation. Mostly important a good therapist will educate hand help one learn the tools of self management.
Muscles make up a large part of the body’s mass and account for the majority of body’s pain, Janet Travel. Physical, mental and emotional strains may all manifest and affect the muscular and skeletal systems. This can affect or be affected by fascial membranes that envelop and infuse the entire body and its organ systems. The physiology and function of our entire organism can be impaired.
Everyday activities and poor posture impose strain on muscles and hence everything else muscles are associated with.
The body has an amazing ability to adapt and we adapt much quicker than we can heal. When the pain and discomfort become evident, there is already a chronic issue from life long habits. Due to the process of adaptation, the source of the problem is likely much greater than the presentation. Much work is required to change and improve one’s functional ability and become pain free. The build up of strain over years takes time, patience and practice to correct; new habits and more efficient means of function need to be developed.
Static postures contribute to pain because muscle activity without a change in length cannot facilitate circulation to where it is needed most, the active muscle. Prolong sitting or standing puts the body at risk. When the heart pumps out blood, blood flows in the direction of least resistance. Statically contracted muscles, being tight, present an impedance to flow; they do not get the blood flow they require. Constricted muscles develop a build up of metabolic wastes due to reduced circulation. Ischemia causes fatigue and pain. In the absence of blood flow, as in death, muscles become rigorous. Tight muscles can also compress and irritate nerves and cause associated neurological symptoms. They may also restrict circulation to other areas of body causing further discomfort.
Muscle comprise of many units that may fire in isolation relative to others. Repetitive actions in a static posture or repetition of the same motions over constant angles activate the same units time and time again. Such repetition can results in abrasion and thickening of the muscle lining; damage arise just as the skin may blister and callus. The muscle lining may become inflamed and scared over time. Without adequate recovery there will be heightened sensitivity due to increase in pain receptors characteristic of chronic inflammation.
In the absence of adequate recovery, the body’s ability to adapt will change the way it functions to avoid pain only to create new areas of wear. The pain will move and further adaption will take place until the limits of adaption is reached. Or the body may shift between modes of function and the pain or discomfort with change as we shift. Muscle and soft-tissue pain wanders and change like the wind.
Massage helps to stimulate blood flow and hence facilitate the removal of metabolic waste build up. This can provide relieve until metabolic waste build up again. In some cases, several sessions along with regular self-care is required to develop notable relief.
Self-care, regular and proper exercises that involve a balance of stretching, conditioning and mobilizing as well as a relaxed calm state of mind and good nutrition are essential.
The mechanical stimulation (massage, either self “rolling” or in therapy) helps to alleviate pain. The mechanics help mask the perception of pain. It helps to stimulate circulation and stretched tight congested tissue. It can help you learn to relax.
Gentle prolong stretching that is mentally relaxing help reduce heightened nerve activity and lengthen congested fibrous tissue for restructuring. This is best achieved with a meditative mind that is cognizant of the sensation.
Regular, gentle, large ranges of motion activities help mobilize tissue, promote circulation and change restrictive habits.