People always associate massage with muscular pain or relaxation but did you know there are lots of other reasons to book yourself in? Here are just five.
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Most people don’t think massage has anything to do with their digestion. How can a massage help relieve the symptoms of digestive discomfort?
First, many digestive issues are related to stress. When we experience stress, whether minor or severe, our body goes into what is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This is the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that gets us ready to handle whatever threat we face. This involves shifting energy from non urgent functions (like digestion) to pumping blood to the muscles in your legs so you can run away faster. This is great when we are faced with a real threat we need to escape from but nowadays it’s traffic jams or deadlines that get us stressed. If you are regularly dealing with stress, be it for work or home life over time this is going to have an impact!
Regular massage therapy sessions can calm that sympathetic nervous system, and stimulate the opposing force, the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our “rest and digest” response.
Aromatherapy massage and IBS
The addition of some aromatherapy oils to your massage can give the massage an extra boost.
- Peppermint can help with bloating, nausea and symptoms of IBS.
- Fennel oil is great as an antispasmodic and helps relieve cramping pains
- Cardamom oil has marvellous anti inflammatory and anti spasmodic properties and is great for easing digestive discomfort
Most people suffer from insomnia now and again – whether it be due to a new baby, jet lag or anxiety about an upcoming event! Unfortunately some people find it becomes chronic and they rarely manage to get a good night’s sleep.
For some, insomnia is just part of how their brain is wired and for others it’s related to stress or pain. But no matter the cause, massage has been shown again and again to improve sleep; both the act of going to sleep as well as the quality of sleep. That “rest and digest” portion of the nervous system needs to be regularly stimulated in order for your body to shut down the way it’s intended so you can get a good night’s sleep. And the pain relief that can come from an experienced massage therapist is unlike any other and will only improve your sleep more.
So, if you’re finding that you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, try adding regular massage sessions into your routine.
ARomatherapy massage and insomnia
There are some great aromatherapy oils that can be added to your massage that can help.
Some of my favourites are:
- Clary sage
- Chamomile Roman
temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
If your dentist has told you you have TMJ you will know how painful it can be. Your jaw will ache and possibly pop or click. Often it is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth, even if you’re not aware you do it. Massage can help relieve it.
Imagine you clenched your fist for hours on end? You would expect the muscles in your hand and forearm to ache after a while wouldn’t you? The same happens to your TM joint if you’re regularly clenching the muscles that control it. Those muscles need to rest and recover from that overwork, just like any other muscular injury. Massage specifically applied throughout the jaw, as well as to the neck and head, can greatly reduce the pain in the muscles along with the associated joint pain. Also many people clench their jaw as a response to stress. Massage can help to relieve that stress and hopefully lead to you clenching your jaw less.
Fibromyalgia is an often-misunderstood condition, but generally speaking is a disorder causing widespread muscular pain. While many people who suffer from Fibromyalgia may avoid massage because of their fear of touch being painful, a gentle massage can actually be extremely beneficial. Your massage will always be tailored to you, so if the pressure needs to be very light, that’s what will happen.
In addition to the widespread muscular pain, those with Fibromyalgia may also struggle with headaches, sleeplessness, and depression; all of which have been shown to improve with massage therapy. A 2014 study¹ concluded that “massage therapy, with a duration of more than 5 weeks, had beneficial immediate effects on improving pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with Fibromyalgia.”
I have written a blog post specifically on Fibromyalgia which you can read here for more detailed information
High Blood Pressure
If your doctor has told you you have high blood pressure ask them if massage might be a suitable treatment for you.
A 2013 study² concluded that massage is a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure, stating that those in the study who received regular massage showed a significantly lower blood pressure than those in the control group.
Again, massage stimulates that “rest and digest” portion of the nervous system, lowering blood pressure while you’re receiving the massage. Then keeping it lower even after you return to your daily activities. Talk with your doctor to see if massage might be a positive addition to your current treatment plan. However please don’t stop taking any medication without checking with your doctor first.
Anna is an award winning massage therapist and founder of Relax Therapies massage clinic in Birkenhead. She offers Sports therapy, Deep Tissue massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Indian Head massage. If you would like more information about massage and if it could be helpful for you please contact me
If you would like to book in click the button below or contact me by phone or email.
¹ Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Li YH, Wang FY, Feng CQ, Yang XF, Sun YH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24586677
² Durability of Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure. Mahshid Givi https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3733180/