Massage is such a beautiful experience to give and to receive.
My muscles almost sigh out loud when those tense knotted areas are found and caressed gently (or firmly!) into surrendering their accumulated stress and tightness. Often I find myself moaning audibly to express their relief and pleasure! And, on some occasions I’m able to TOTALLY let go of my mind and drift into a sea of silence and stillness, a depth of relaxation rarely available in my daily activities without conscious effort. Other times its more about getting me “fixed” or mechanically sound to get back out there and function without pain or twinges. And on other occasions it’s in between these two extremes, like a maintenance check to keep everything oiled and operating well.
So what is it about massage that is sooooooo good?
Well, for starters we all need touch to survive. And massage is professional touch, skilled touch delivered to produce a specific outcome (FRITZ Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage2000 p 3). These outcomes arrive because touch causes physiological responses in our body regardless of gender. We can easily deduce that massage gives rise to muscle tension release, improved range of motion and joint flexibility. But therapeutic touch can also give rise to the release of feel good chemicals called endorphins from our endocrine system. Endorphins create a general sense of wellbeing. In addition to this, other hormones that cause stress and anxiety are actually reduced by massage.
There are other systems positively affected by massage too, such as our blood circulation, our nervous system, our lymphatic system and surprisingly the digestive system. A secondary affect from all of this is that our immune system is boosted through much of this improved activity!
Other physical benefits of massage can include improved circulation, improved skin tone, speedier healing of injuries, and heightened mental alertness. You can more easily see now how massage can be an important part of reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Need more proof that massage is great?
Well, massage can be used as a direct way of treating illness and injury. The Mayo Clinic suggests that massage can be an important way of positively treating the following conditions, and I suspect MANY more could be listed here:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Paresthesis and nerve pain
- Soft tissue strains and injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporo-mandibular joint pain
Having said ALL that, I’m now going to state that massage isn’t just about touch! There is an energetic exchange between client and therapist, a co-mingling of energies where the highest flows to the lowest – much like water finding its own level. There’s also the depth of soulfulness (or lack of in some more sporting and clinical settings) that can open. A client and a therapist who have done a lot of inner work and are more self aware and spiritually open will go much deeper in to soul (stillness, oneness, peace, joy etc) and the healing effect will be more conscious than more closed or less aware individuals.
And for me personally, as a therapist and as a client receiving therapeutic touch one of the most important benefits of massage is the deep human (and beyond!) connection between therapist and client. In my world this is the most healing aspect… so choose your therapist wisely.
It would be great to hear your personal experiences of how massage has helped you or someone you know. Please, feel free to share your stories here.