Welcome to The Gentle Place Massage Therapy, where our intention is to help you feel better, move better and live better.
At its deepest level, the healing of massage comes from the power of touch. Research from as far back as the 1988 showed that without it, an infant can die from “failure to thrive”. And with it, a premature infant gains weight 47% faster than her non-massaged counterpart. (see 1988 New York Times article HERE)
But the healing attributes of massage have been known for much longer ago than that! Massage is one of the oldest health practices, mentioned in ancient Chinese medical texts written over 4,000 years ago. Hippocrates also advocated massage in the 4th century b.c., as have doctors since then; until the 1930s and ’40s, when the practice was virtually abandoned as medicine became more high-tech and pharmaceutically based.
In the 1970’s, massage began to have a resurgence as people began to see some of the limitations of our more drug based western medical practices, and holistic ideologies like mind/body medicine began to re-emerge.
Massage is a holistic health practice – that is, it works with body’s own healing systems to help the body heal itself. Although the therapy itself is on muscle tissue, a massage impacts the blood vessels, nervous system, and lymphatic system as well.
As a result, in addition to the relaxation that many people are familiar with as a result of massage, there are other significant health benefits to it.
Studies show that massage has a positive impact on everything from chronic pain like headaches, arthritis and fibromyalgia, to prenatal depression, autism, and autoimmune disorders such as asthma and diabetes. It also lowers blood pressure and boosts immunity.
How does Massage do all this?
First, it relaxes the body so that the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced.
Cortisol is a very important hormone. It regulates things like blood sugar, blood pressure, and immune function . It is the hormone that is released when we are stressed, it’s our fight and flight hormone, so we have the energy and heightened functions to either run away from the grizzly bear or fight to protect ourselves..
But when this hormone pumps through our bodies on a regular basis due to stress, and inadequate relaxation, it starts to hurt us. Some of the effects of extended stress are: Impaired mental function, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decrease in bone density and muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, decreased immunity, slower healing of wounds, increased stomach fat, and all of the diseases associated with that.
So, second to decreasing cortisol, massage INCREASES Serotonin, the body’s anti-pain hormone . Serotonin is also extremely important neurotransmitter that is essential to our survival. Serotonin plays a role in mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. It’s the feel good hormone.
And thirdly, The massage begins to release muscle knots and spasms so that the blood begins to flow freely throughout the body. It helps get rid of all the toxic effects of the cortisol, and helps distribute the good effects of the seretonin! It frees up compressed nerves, bring in fresh oxygen to the tissues,, and allows the body to heal itself!
How do you know when you should have a massage?
Many people feel it in their shoulders and neck. Right now, stop and pay attention to your body. Are you shoulders up near your ears? Can you take a deep breath into your belly with out your upper chest moving? Can you let your shoulders drop? Most of us are in a continued state of tightness in our shoulders and aren’t even aware of it. That is, until we start to have PAIN. This can happen when we start to hold ourselves in this position for long periods of time when work on the computer, drive our cars, carry heavy purses or bags, or work with hammers, or other tools of our trade. Then, what was once tension or tightness can become debilitating pain.
And then pain turns into decreased range of motion. It hurts to move. So we begin to move less. And then muscles respond by getting even tighter.
How far can you turn your head to the Left? To the Right? Can you see over your shoulder? Do you have trouble looking behind when you’re driving? Does your neck feel tight? Do you have pain reaching up to get something off a high shelf? Reaching over to get your seat belt. These range of motion issues are usually – although not ALWAYS – related to muscle tension. And massage can help.
Another areas where people hold tension is in their low back. Often it is from long hours of sitting (our bodies were not built to sit for 12-18 hours a day), driving, carrying weight unevenly on our hips (like carrying a child) . Once our low back starts to hurt, we want to walk less, do less activities, stretch less. And eventually, we get stiffer, and have more difficulty moving. It’s a negative feedback loop.
Massage BREAKS the cycle of stress, tension, pain and immobility. It helps your body come back to a balanced state so it can heal it self. It decreases your stress hormones, increases your feel good hormones, and decreases knots and tension in your muscles so you can move more freely.
So is it time for YOU to book a massage?
And remember, massage doesn’t just feel good, it’s good for you!