Massage as leisure?

My client and friend having an avid interest for the bodywork / therapeutic massage I do,  asked me today,  “ But why do we do massage, why do we love it so much, why does it make us feel so good ?? I thought it would be interesting to explore and explain why a   good massage or treatment makes us feel so good!

I feel massage or bodywork is not just done for luxury or leisure purposes; it has several key benefits.

Firstly and most importantly, in our daily lives we tend to be mostly in ‘fight or flight’ mode with an extremely busy and hectic lifestyle: deadlines to meet, bills to pay, lack of sleep, lack of ‘me time’,  which puts a  load on our nervous system causing what is commonly called “stress”. An effective massage is known to reduce and lower blood pressure, reducing heart rate and our cortisol levels and insulin levels (usually all related according to me ) and generally put us in “parasympathetic mode” which our body and mind so desperately require.

Secondly but not second in importance, massage helps relieve tired muscles, dissipates build -up of lactic acid in the body (which comes through working out), improves circulation and therefore provides oxygen to your muscular system, reduces inflammation and pain and most importantly, prevents injury. Techniques like Thai body work and shiatsu which involve stretching, improve posture and increase range of motion and flexibility in your ligaments and joints, improving posture and also preventing injury again. Moreover, physical therapy or touch  also encourages the release of our “feel good ” hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which promote our feeling of general wellbeing, relaxation and positivity -definitely being a mood enhancer !

Being a yoga teacher and facilitator, and working closely with the breath,  I have found that due to stress,  a lot of people breathe shallowly, breathing more into the chest, ribcage and neck- tensing the thoracic region excessively. Due to overuse of muscles in the area people can suffer from constricted muscles, respiratory issues, sinus headaches because of pain   in the neck region ( over use of neck muscles while breathing ).   Yes! It’s incredible how everything is closely linked and interrelated. My practice of abdominal chi massage where I do work a lot on the abdominal thoracic cavity  and the diaphragm, releases a lot of tension in the area, promoting deeper breathing.   “Tapotement “, a technique often used in Chinese massage or even Swedish massage, uses hacking / tapping / cupping  the chest region to release mucous from blocked passages – very interesting work!

Needless to say, being in the field now for almost 10 years and still exploring, it’s so important to find the right hands with sufficient training and a warm and caring touch!

All these factors make massage therapy and body work truly a complete and  preventive healing system which is not just  done for leisure ; also making it an extremely interesting field  for me to be in to  give  treatment and enhance another’s wellbeing and just generally make them feel better!


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