Stress is one of the most common causes of non-traumatic musculoskeletal aches and pains in today's society, and prolonged levels of stress tend to exacerbate these pains and can lead to other negative health effects such as heart disease and depression. Did you know that massage therapy can not only aid in decreasing your stress levels, but also help in decreasing perceived pain levels, improve cardiovascular health, and elevate your mood?
What Factors Contribute to Stress?
There are multiple factors that contribute to one's stress levels and the most popular include lack of sleep or appropriate rest and overworking oneself physically and mentally. Based on my experience in my own clinical practice, many patients report general aches and pains in the neck, upper back and lower back regions, that they attribute to high occupational stress levels. Several studies on work-related stress suggest the association of job stress with musculoskeletal pain in these common areas is a result of stress, increasing one's awareness and reporting of pain by two different methods:
- The neurological effects stress has on one's central nervous system processing. What I mean by this is that stress, through the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, puts your body in a "fight or flight" hyperactive state. This causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase and one often becomes hyper-vigilant during this time.
- Stress causes you to change the way you perform your physical tasks. For example, performing tasks with poor posture or with higher resting muscle tension.
How can Massage Help?
Massage directly decreases stress levels by decreasing your cardiac output (the amount of blood your heart is pumping per minute) during treatment and promotes a state of both physical and mental rest and relaxation. By promoting a decrease in your heart rate, peripheral resistance in your blood vessels decreases, thereby causing your blood pressure to decrease while receiving treatment and allows your nervous system to achieve a more relaxed state. With your heart and nerves at ease through the use of various effective massage techniques, your muscles decrease in tone.
Are you finding that your schedule is limited and making time for a massage is difficult? Studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of massage therapy have aided in decreasing one's post treatment blood pressure, decreasing muscle tone, and improving your mood. These positive effects of massage therapy have a dose-response relationship, so they continue to improve with consistent therapy, in combination with a healthy lifestyle.
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Help your body de-stress and book a massage session with our team of highly qualified registered massage therapists at the Sport Medicine Clinic today!
Holly Zita, RMT, Hons. BSc. Kinesiology