Massages Can Relieve Stress

Massages Can Relieve StressStress is a natural reaction to situations which our mind perceives to be dangerous or that require a level of high alert. It is a protection mechanism that is necessary at times but sometimes gets overplayed in the modern world due to excessive stress alerts. This makes it necessary to ensure we get adequate stress relief to mitigate the effects of too much stress- namely cardiac or mental health issues. Amongst these include a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, substance abuse issues, anxiety, sadness or anger, or physical changes to the body including changes in sex drive, sleep, and even body composition with increased fat being linked to high levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. It is important to manage your life and your stress so that these risks are mitigated as best as possible because no one wants to deal with these comorbidities and conditions. Thankfully, there are many different forms of stress relief out there- everything from meditation to exercising to getting massages and it is really a matter of trying different things out to see what works best for you.

The latter, getting a massage, is especially growing in popularity right now. Many people seem to find that it just helps their worries seep away as they almost travel to another world for that half hour or hour session. Looking at the specific downstream effects of excessive stress, there are many case studies which suggest that massages can help alleviate those issues, making it a logical option at combatting stress given the fantastic safety profile. There have also been scientific studies which have shown associations with massages and reduced heart rates and blood pressure. Some studies have even shown increased endorphin levels after massages, which may be causing the positive feeling people get after receiving one. Massages are certainly on the upward trend right now, but they should not be your only form of stress management.

It should be noted that the best thing for stress is likely a combination of many things. It is important to eat right, exercise, and take care of your body in order for it to function properly and for stress to be minimized. Massages may be an add-on to those other activities as may meditation too. Stress relief has great potency in improving your life beyond just your health, though. It can help increase vitality and improve your state of mind.

If you think you are interested in trying out massages, the next question is where do you go to get a quality one? There are now many retail outlets at which you can get professional massage services including Massage Envy, which is one of the most popular chains. There are also many local masseuses who can offer custom services to their clients including home visits, etc. Just be sure to do your research on the massage service to make sure that they are a legitimate business with certified professionals. Once you find someone you like you can stick with them and continue to fight back the never-ending onslaught of stress!

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Therapeutic Massage and Blood Circulation

Therapeutic Massage and Blood CirculationA new study by a group at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) shows that massages can help increase blood flow and reduce muscle soreness after exercising. The study, printed in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, also showed improvements in people who had not exercised in terms of blood flow. These two findings continue to support a hypothesis on the value of massages for people of all activity levels and vascular health.

Advocates of massages have long touted the circulate and muscle benefits of getting massages. Many professional athletes buy into these claims and get regular massages, especially after big games or events. At the same time, no major randomized controlled trial has been conducted due to the high costs associated with that type of gold-standard study. Instead, we have a growing body of cheaper and smaller studies including this one by UIC. Over time, it is possible the evidence level builds up to really support more interventional massages as part of routine care.

This new study helps validate that potential message by using patient-centric outcomes. Study participants were asked to do leg presses until they felt sore. One cohort received massages after this, while the other cohort did not. Soreness was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 both right after the exercise and after 24 hours. The massage cohort reported no continuing soreness even 90 minutes after the massage, whereas the other group still had soreness 24 hours after the exercise. Brachial artery flow mediated dilation (FMD) was also measured in the upper arm at 90 minutes after exercise as well as 1, 2, and 3 days afterward. FMD improved for both groups over time, as expected, but the exercise-only group lagged in return to normalcy, suggesting that there is a physiological mechanism behind the results and not only a placebo effect. The FMD results also suggest a systemic effect since the readings were from the arm and the exercise was in the legs.

While more robust and larger randomized clinical trials will be needed to further quantify the effects of massage, the early data certainly suggest that there is a benefit. And either way, we know there are not any major safety issues with getting massages for most people, so that makes it an okay thing to try for those who may believe it could help so long as the cost justifies the potential upside. Specific studies on cost effectiveness may be able to further delineate this latter point and could eventually increase access to massages if insurance companies and other payers start to see the value in them and are willing to pay for them. Provider referrals would likely be required in these cases, so the medical body of evidence also needs to grow, but as of now, there is not much holding that back other than the issues of cost when it comes to running large studies to confirm physiological and medical effects. It will be interesting to see how the impact of a massage on blood circulation develops over time.

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Health Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Health Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is growing in popularity as people around the world discover its utility in improving physiological wellness. The technique consists of deep pressure from the fingers and slow strokes that affect the deeper layers of muscle that traditional massages may not have much impact upon. There is a growing body of scientific literature that shows the clinical impact of deep tissue massages, including in patients suffering from certain disease states.

The University of Maryland Medical Center uses the technique in some patients with chronic pain, reporting favorable results without the side effects and abuse risks associated with opioid medications. The thinking is that the massages may be improving blood flow to the muscles, allowing for a reduction in inflammation and pain. They may also help in reducing muscle tension which can be a source of discomfort in those suffering from chronic pain.

Beyond pain and inflammation, massages are culturally known to be relaxing and for good reason. They can help reduce stress as one completely relaxes and lets it all go during a session. Many people report getting regular massages in order to keep stress levels low and this often ends up correlating with important physiological markers including blood pressure. Studies have supported this with evidence- those who meditate and get massages tend to have lower blood pressures (or the same patients have blood pressure reduction before and after the fact).

Deep tissue massages may also allow for better circulation of the blood, which has numerous downstream effects. This includes better healing as the body can more efficiently transport needed resources to the site of injury and transversely, get rid of waste products. This can go well beyond the time of initial injury as the process is still vitally important to getting rid of scar tissue. The particular mechanism may involve the lymphatic circulation. The benefits in this regard are recognized in some patients who undergo major surgery and go on massage regimens afterwards in order to quicken the recovery process.

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What is Chinese Cupping?

What is Chinese Cupping?

The Olympics have now ended and another global event of fanfare and record-breaking is now in the books. While the games may have ended, one thing is still on everyone’s mind: what is cupping? The 2016 Summer Olympics made the practice famous as viewers and fans noted large circular discolorations on many of their favorite athletes’ bodies. Cupping took the Olympics by storm this year, particularly in swimming, but the practice is actually much older than these Olympics.

Cupping because in 300 AD in a book by a Taoist herbalist describing a number of “prescriptions for emergencies”. It referred to the use of bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin (today’s athletes likely used small glass cups instead). A practitioner can create the suction from the cups by lighting rubbing alcohol under the cup on fire and place it against the skin (the fire burns the alcohol but the change in temperature allows for a suction effect). This does not burn the skin, but just creates the suction effect.

Once the suction takes effect, the cup can be moved across the skin. This causes the muscle layer to slightly come up as the cup moves and creates upward pressure on the skin (as opposed to a massage which does the opposite). It often leads to a relaxing sensation, which is why so many athletes like it. The cups can be left on the skin for ten minutes or so once the suction starts as the patient relaxes.

The idea is that the movement of the muscle and the relaxation leads to increased blood flow and potentially better healing or function- similar ideas as those in support of massages. Some users like to combine cupping with other methods including massaging. For those especially inclined to eastern medicine, acupuncture is another popular option. Both acupuncture and cupping follow the lines of the meridians on the body as it strives to open certain ‘channels’ within the body.

While cupping was tremendously popular in the 2016 games, it continues to have its skeptics as do many forms of ancient healing. Medical professionals note the lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of cupping and attribute any benefit to perception or placebo. Athletes questioned on the matter did not seem to care, given the relatively low cost of the procedure and the impact the procedure had on their minds, which is a big part of competitive sports. Placebo effects may not be “real” against a comparator, but they are still real in terms of physiological impact- there is no doubt about that. If the swimmers actually felt it helped and experienced the placebo effect, then in turn their performance was enhanced as a result as well and one may argue that it was worth it. Nonetheless, more literature on the topic will likely emerge after the practice took the nation by storm this season. It will be interesting to see how the tactic of cupping holds up with time and in the face of new evidence.

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Can Massage Relieve Pain?

Can Massage Relieve Pain?Massages are growing in popularity amongst people with a number of ailments or those who just want a better way to relax. A key question surrounding the efficacy of massages is, “Can Massage Relieve Pain?” For millions of people who suffer from chronic pain and for whom pain relievers are ineffective or high risk, options like massage may provide a good alternative to controlling their pain. Massage can help relax people, while reducing stress and relieving pain.

A recent systematic review in Pain Medicine substantiates these claims. By pooling 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies, the review found that message therapy was superior to placebo in ailing pain. It also had the added benefit of a favorable safety profile which was very low in side effects (particularly in comparison to pharmacotherapy). There seem to be multiple mechanisms via which massages improve biomechanical, physiological, and psychological wellbeing. It truly is a lost art, having originally been described by Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

A question that always persists with massage therapy is how long and how often patients need to get it in order to sustain the pain relieving effect. A study by a group of researchers in Seattle looked at this research question and found that those who got massages for 60 minutes two or three times a week had the best results followed by those who have 30 minute massages of the same frequency which was better than no massages at all. If you try massage therapy and do not witness results, it may be time to consider increasing the frequency as that seems to make a difference. A massage therapist can likely help any individualized questions you may have regarding a regular regimen.

The effectiveness of massages has led even many traditional sites of care to start to adopt them. A survey by the American Hospital association found that 82% of hospitals offered massages to patients depending on what they were in for. The majority of these cases were used in order to help with pain relief.

Given the favorable risk-benefit profile of massage therapy and the comparable profile of prescription medications, it is a wonder that the massage trend did not take off earlier. As the United States faces an opioid addiction epidemic, massages are likely to continue to grow in favor with both patients and providers. Given the damage that drugs can do, it may well become first line therapy in time.

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Himalayan Salt Stones Massage

Himalayan Salt Stones MassageThe Himalayan salt stones are great tools that will reduce tension, stress and relieve pain and inflammation. Himalayan Salt has 84 minerals and nutrients that naturally occur in our bodies. Through osmosis these nutrients naturally enter the body to activate your natural healing mechanisms allowing your body to restore its natural balance. Depending on how it’s applied, those minerals absorb into the skin balancing the body’s PH, aiding proper metabolism, helping with gastrointestinal issues, improving circulation and respiratory issues, and many other health benefits.

This salt is of the highest quality. These salt stones can be heated on a heating pad to create a radiant heat that penetrates deep into sore, achy muscles. The heat coupled with the nutrients causes the body to release toxins that may be blocking the blood flow in that area.

Because the skin is the largest organ and absorbs minerals as well as toxins, there is enormous benefit in using the salt stones over river stones. The magnesium within it helps to relax muscles and melt tension, and the other 84+ minerals and trace elements are beneficially absorbed to alkalize, gently draw out toxins. And because of the pure salt, it draws moisture to the upper layers of the skin, plumping and moisturizing, leaving the skin smooth and exfoliated.

By adding Himalayan salt rocks to any massage session, the client get additional heat to allow the organic trace minerals to penetrate into the skin and body, which in turn balances the client’s central nervous system.

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A young Thai Massage Therapist doing her craft…

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Have you received your Thai Yoga Massage lately?

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The Benefits Of Aromatherapy

The Benefits Of AromatherapyIt’s been said for years that aromatherapy does wonders for people.  It’s still up in the air as to what clinical science says about the therapeutic benefits, but there are millions of people who swear by it.

Aromatherapy is based on the notion that certain aromas and scents, when delivered in a special way, can trigger healing properties.  The claims of success are numerous and one can find aromatherapy spas and websites all over.

The basics are that essential oils derived from certain plants, herbs, and such when treated with heat or just presented to the olfactory senses can produce strong healing rejuvenating results.  They’ve been used for countless centuries by cultures throughout the world.  The human sense of smell and taste can detect around 10,000 different scents and the effects on the brain are being qualified now in labs around the world.  It’s already documented that the memory centers of the brain can be triggered immensely by smell alone.  Aromatherapy then uses the limbic system,the collective name for structures in the brain involved in emotion, motivation, and emotional association with memory, to produce positive results.  When done correctly, a sense of well being and healing occur.

Claims such as better skin, eyesight, relief from chronic pain, better memory, and just about every malady we can list can benefit from aromatherapy.  For people who are stressed out, aromatherapy is considered one of the best remedies available.  In regards to scents that we found soothing as children and are no longer in our environment, when presented via aromatherapy can trigger a tsunami of great feelings and memories.  It’s no doubt whatsoever that aroma therapy does something but it will take more study to qualify and quantify.

As more people are treated the results will come in regarding aromatherapy.  The plants and herbs from where the essential oils are derived are available easily and it takes a good practitioner of aromatherapy to bring about the right results.  We know mood can affect our bodies drastically.  Mind over matter, one might say.  If a scent can trigger the right responses from the body like increasing the immune system’s defenses or relieving chronic headaches, acne, blood flow, then all the better.  Just the aroma and scent of an oil that can affect the olfactory centers and produce certain chemical responses to the body.

Considering how old this therapy is, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Ashiatsu massage, its techniques and benefits

Ashiatsu massage, its techniques and benefitsWhile the Ashiatsu massage had been confined within the countries of Hawaii, Fiji, Japan, China, Thailand, Tonga, and India for more than three thousand years, it has grown in popularity in the present times. It has become popular on a global scale. Ashiatsu had been a homely practice for long time where family members massaged each other with feet on the mat or floor. It is now being practiced on the massage tables and studios. The original style was not as structured and the family members got creative and tried new and improved methods when they offered the massage. They brought new techniques and procedures into the Ashiatsu massage.

When Ashiatsu has just stepped out into the greater world, the massage therapists and practitioners seemed to have more interest in energy or Chi, rather than in comforting and easing muscle pains. According to traditional Ashiatsu,  people follow yin meridians’ flow coming from earth and yang meridians’ flow coming from heaven. The main focus is directed on the energy map of the body in the massage therapy. This is the reason why Ashiatsu was not originally considered a massage form. Rather, it was considered an art of healing that passed down the generations.

There are a number of benefits offered by Ashiatsu. This massage treatment induces deep relaxation and relieves stress. The massage also helps to free the tightened muscles and also stimulate the self healing abilities and immunity of the body.  The practitioners offer such massage which keeps the clients feeling stimulated and refreshed. The massage therapy is useful for athletic maintenance and for sports preparation too. This is because the treatment stretches and enlarges the large muscles. When the therapy is offered for a greater time or in a greater detail, it is able to warm up large muscles. The massage is especially effective on those that are muscular. However, there are no such restrictions or specified body types for receiving the Ashiatsu massage.

Ashiatsu is a deep massage of the tissues which gives the feeling of a quality workout and leaves them feeling relaxed and refreshed. Ideally, the Ashiatsu massage takes at least an hour, so that the therapist get enough time to massage the large muscles thoroughly with feet. The smaller muscles are massaged with hands.

The Ashiatsu massage offers other benefits, which include  reduction of stress, relieving the tight muscles, deep relaxation, and stimulation of the self healing abilities of the body. The massage requires the therapist to stand on the body of the person receiving the massage and move about on the body. There are overhead bars to facilitate a better distribution of weight. They use their feet in varied ways to control the weight exerted on different areas of the body. In general, feet are used to offer compression strokes to the larger muscles at the top and back of the legs.

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Does Massage Really Make A Health Difference?

massage therapy in Clearwater FLJust about everyone has had or heard about the benefits of massage.  Just a cursory glance on a search engine will find millions of websites devoted to the practice.  It’s as old as civilization itself and probably older.

People who have had massage will make all kinds of claims regarding the benefits of massage.  From the relief of headaches, backache, even immune system improvement.  The list of maladies that people claim have been remedied by massage seem endless but it is more than just a subjective issue as science has researched the benefits of massage within the realm of stress relief.

Stress is considered the silent killer along with blood pressure and diabetes II.  Massage as part of a stress relief regimen is almost textbook.  From athletes to business people always on the go to moms and dads who have to deal with everyday pressures and kids, massage can help greatly in letting off that pent up energy in the muscles and mind.  Anything natural that relieves stress is beneficial.  Stress can alter one’s immune system, digestive and endocrine systems and more.  Once these systems become compromised it’s a downward spiral to health problems that can be severe to say the least.

A doctor will notice the symptoms of stress and recommend a variety of approaches.  They know that each patient is different and that the source of their stress is too.  The bottom line is that massage seems to handle a number of underlying reasons for stress be they mental and/or physical.  Our diets, rest cycles, interrelationships, problem solving can all lead to tensions that get bottled up with no release.  Massage, practiced by a professional can address the body’s tension and affect the mind as well.  The mind is one of the main reasons for stress as anxiety or depression can cause any number of manifestations physically.  Massage can work on this and the results collected by modern science cannot be denied.

If you’re suffering from stress, tension, headaches and such symptoms, ask your doctor about massage.  They’re sure to have a list of professionals that they can recommend and send you to.  They’ll monitor what you’re doing and your progress and work out a stress relief regimen that you can easily follow.  If you’re at a gym ask about massage as well.  Maybe even your employer might have an option for you.

It’s ever wise to make sure you don’t get stressed out and that means taking into account that massage might be just the thing for you.

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