I had a first-time client who during his consultation informed me that as a high school teacher in a public school setting he found it hard to decompress when he got off of work. Given that his wife, who is also middle school teacher; it is hard for both of them to leave the work at work. He was getting massages once a month with another therapist and found that to be his only “escape”. Upon further conversation during the massage; he made reference to how he believed massage to just be about pampering oneself. My face scrunched up a little bit. I was confused at his statement. Did he not realize that his method to “escape” was more than just “pampering? That it was in fact therapeutic?
The fact that he found massage therapy to help him cope with the daily stresses that life always gives us is wonderful. It was my job as a therapist to educate him on how wonderful and unique this type of therapy is. Just by entering the therapy room and inhaling the aromatherapy; the process is already starting to take place. Activating the body’s nervous systems in preparation for the decompression and escape is only the beginning. With each massage stroke that is eloquently performed; massage therapy serves to increase the dopamine and serotonin found in the sympathetic nervous system. These two chemicals are responsible for your mood. Reducing stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue are the main culprits clients seek for massage.
Massage therapy is therapeutic if performed correctly and at a minimal of once a month. It can serve as preventative maintenance for the body. Just like you have to take your car to get an oil change every three or five thousand miles; your body requires monthly maintenance to continue to perform at optimal levels. Massage therapy is one of the best ways to increase the body’s circulation. Certain techniques performed like petrissage; which is the squeezing and pulling of muscles; helps to flush lactic acid from the muscles. It improves the circulation of the lymph fluid, which in turn carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs. This results in lowering the blood pressure and improving bodily functions. When your body is performing at its best; you are more likely to detect and not allow stress to take over you.
Another therapeutic benefit of massage is the effects on your respiratory system. Sometimes when stress and anxiety kicks in, your breathing may become constricted. Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax and help improve breathing. By using strategic techniques, massage can help to lengthen the accessory respiratory muscles around the front and back rib cage; allowing for optimal lung function.
So, while you may schedule an appointment thinking that you are going for relaxation and to be pampered. Just know it is more therapeutic than you think.