Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress
Thanks for Article from Amta Approved October 2006
It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can be effective for stress relief.
Stress is a prevalent component in today’s fast-paced world which can negatively impact an individual’s health and well-being. Massage therapy has been shown to be a means by which stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels. While massage therapists know from experience that massage reduces stress, there is considerable research that validates our experience.
In a study on the effect of trigger point therapy1, there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure8, and diastolic blood pressure8. Measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels were all lower after a 10 to 15-minute chair massage in controlled studies2, 3, 4. Changes in psychological states have been measured by physiological responses1, 3, the Perceived Stress Scale5, the POMS Depression Scale4,6, and the Anxiety State.
Massage Away the Pain — The Need-to-Know
Massage therapy is any treatment where a therapist (or masseuse) manipulates the body’s muscles and soft tissues to relieve pain or decrease stress. But all massage is not created equal! Strategies range from deep tissue (often called Swedish) massage to reflexology, where the therapist applies pressure to a specific point on the body in order to relieve pain.
And the list of ailments massage can be used to treat is just as long as the list of massage types. One recent study found that massage therapy can reduce pain, promote muscle relaxation, and improve both moods and sleep quality. Another study found that after subjects were massaged, the levels of cortisol (a hormone contributing to stress) in their saliva decreased. One study also found massage therapy’s pleasurable qualities can lead to recipients reporting a better body image, especially for women.
Worth Its Weight — Your Action Plan
Although massage therapy may be more expensive than a walk in the park or a bar of dark chocolate (don’t worry, everyone eats the whole thing sometimes), it’s possible the psychological benefits of massage therapy may far outweigh its heftier price tag.
But while the majority of massage side effects are stress-relieving and positive, there are a few concerns to consider before diving into deep tissue. Not just anyone can give a true therapeutic massage, so make sure to seek the services of a trained massage therapist. And while it’s normal to feel a little sore the day after many types of massage, it should never be painful or uncomfortable, so communication with the therapist is key.
What are Trigger Points?
TRIGGER POINTS ARE TINY KNOTS THAT DEVELOP IN A MUSCLE WHEN IT IS INJURED OR OVERWORKED. COMMONLY A CAUSE OF MOST JOINT PAIN, THEY ARE KNOWN TO CAUSE HEADACHES, NECK AND JAW PAIN, LOW BACK PAIN, TENNIS ELBOW, AND CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME.
Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain and dysfunction through applied pressure to trigger points of referred pain and through stretching exercises. These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body.
Trigger Point Therapy can relieve muscular aches and pains in association with these areas. It can also assist with the redevelopment of muscles and/or restore motion to joints. Trigger Point Performance products are specifically designed to support the massage associated with Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point researchers believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle entirely contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.
These trigger point charts show specific areas that have been identified as trigger points and typical trigger point referral patterns. By strengthening, toning, and massaging these areas, flexibility and strength that has been lost can potentially be regained.
Trigger Point Massage
As I began studying massage therapy I became increasingly interested in discovering what exactly caused certain areas of the body to refer pain. I was amazed that I could apply pressure to spots in the middle of the back and you would feel pain referring to your chest.
I then began studying Trigger Point Massage techniques. I had a basic knowledge of how muscle tissues responded during massage treatment and I was thoroughly interested in learning about the cause, symptoms, and treatments of trigger points.
What I had found in my search is that most trigger points are caused by repeated stress on individual muscles. This seems to cause a continual contraction of the muscle group which directly and indirectly causes these specific muscle knots.
What I have found is that during a trigger point massage session many of my clients also tell me that they can experience a release of other muscles in their body that are not related at all to the spots that I am focused on. I truly feel that while applying pressure to individual trigger points our bodies release levels of dopamine into our system to illicit pain relief.
With this additional pain reliever in the body, it allows my clients to become even more relaxed and almost enter a state of meditation. Trigger point therapy is extremely effective in alleviating symptoms of migraine headaches, sinus pressure, and back pain.
When receiving Trigger Point Therapy it is essential that you find a therapist that is qualified in the treatment. If a trigger point is stimulated too short a time it can actually activate the area to release more pain.
If a trigger point is pressed for too long, or too hard for too long, it can cause the area to feel as though it were bruised for a number of days following treatment. It is always best to go with a therapist that you feel comfortable with who has proved over time to be competent in their treatment styles as well as conscious of how you are receiving and experiencing the treatment provided.
To use Symptom Checker click on these links and simply move your cursor over the body figurine and click on the area where you feel pain. A new window will then open and allow you to choose which pain pattern looks the most like the pain you are experiencing. You may then click on that picture and review information pertaining to that specific muscle.
General information is provided for every muscle listed and is intended to educate the general population on the pain that arises from the muscular system. This information is not intended to provide medical advice or to replace the advice of a licensed physician. Portions of this information, however, may be used to provide material to your physician for review.
Click this link for the Trigger Point symptom checker
The Trigger Point & Referred Pain Guide
To use the Trigger Point & Referred Pain Guide click on this link:
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.