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Can Massage Therapy Help Me?

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Generally, people use massage for either general relaxation and wellbeing, or to address a specific complaint, such as pain or limited range of motion. Research suggests massage therapy may contribute to both goals.

Some of the general benefits of massage therapy may include:

  • Physical relaxation
  • Improved circulation, which nourishes cells and improves waste elimination
  • Relief for tight muscles (knots) and other aches and pains
  • Release of nerve compression (carpel tunnel, sciatica)
  • Greater flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhanced energy and vitality
  • Some clinical styles may help heal scar tissue as well as tendon, ligament, and muscle tears

What specific conditions can massage therapy help?

Massage therapy may help the body in many ways.  Massage can relax muscle tissue, which may lead to decreased nerve compression, increased joint space, and range of motion. This may lead to reduced pain and improved function.

Massage therapy may also improve circulation, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells and helps remove waste products. These circulatory effects of massage may have value in the treatment of some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or edema (an excessive accumulation of fluid in body tissues, which may be reduced using manual lymph drainage).

Massage therapy is also thought to induce a relaxation response, which lowers the heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure; boosts the immune system, and generally decreases the physical effects of stress.

These effects suggest that massage may be helpful for a wide range of conditions.  Some of these are listed below.

Decreases pain and increases functioning in these conditions:Helps treat and manage symptoms or complications of:Other psychological,  emotional, and physical benefits:
Carpal tunnel
Sciatica
Tension headaches
Whiplash
Scoliosis
Torticollis
Tendon and muscle tears
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Varicose veins
Pregnancy-related back pain and other discomforts
Myofascial pain
Sore or overused muscles (prevents and treats)
Muscle injury (offers rehabilitation)
Gout
Rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis
Muscular dystrophies
Raynaud’s Disease
Diabetes
Hypertension and congestive heart failure
Reduces risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes autoimmune diseases
Improved mood
Reduced anxiety
Lower stress levels
Lessening of depression
Reduced anger and aggression
Improved sleep patterns and decreased sleep disturbance
Reduced fatigue
Enhances immune system
Improves athletic performance and enhances recovery

Relaxation vs Deep Tissue – What is the difference?

With so many different types of massage out there, it can be difficult to choose which therapy is right for you.  Some days you may want to unwind and relax while others you need targeted relief from tension and stiffness after a particularly stressful week.

To help you choose which therapy is most suitable for your needs, here is a look at two of the most popular therapies:  Deep Tissue and Relaxation Massage.

Keep in mind that every client, therapist, and massage session may be different.  This is just a basic outline.  Treatments by our therapist as Precision Wellness will be tailored to you.

What is the difference?

The short answer: Pressure.

Soothing massage that is gentle enough to put you to sleep on the table?  Relaxation massage can do the trick!

Do you crave that good-pain feeling that really works out the kinks?  If you’re a fan of firmer pressure from the elbows and knuckles, a Deep Tissues massage would be great for you.

There is no set guideline for great massages.  Your therapist will use differing pressures and parts of their hands and arms depending on the area of focus.  If you are an office working, your neck may be stiff from long days at the desk.  For construction workers, your shoulders may harbor a lot of tension from a labor-intensive day.  Tell your massage therapist what is ailing you and they will work some magic!

Tell us what you want

Clear communication about what you want and don’t want is very important!  Therapist may have magic hands, but they are not mind readers. If your therapist is doing something that feels great, let them know so they can do more of it! Just as importantly, if there is a technique, pressure, or area of focus that you are not enjoying, make sure you communicate that early on so they can adjust accordingly.  Simply, clear communication results in you enjoying your massage experience from start to finish.

Deeper benefits

Deep Tissue Massage – This is a full-body massage that generally uses a bit more pressure. Your therapist can target more trigger points and aim to get those knots worked out while still making you feel like they have covered the entire body.

“Deep Tissue” implies a specific focus on dense layers of muscle and fascia, it does not always mean deep pressure – “deep” can also refer to the impact of the massage on your body as a restorative therapy.

With numerous benefits, and not just limited to pain reduction, consistent Deep Tissue massages can help break down scar tissue and “knots” and promote long-term muscle rehabilitation.

Some of the conditions that could benefit from a Deep Tissue massage include:

  • Lower back and neck pain
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Injuries and muscle tension
  • Post-workout fatigue

Deep Tissue may also aid in lowering high blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing stress and anxiety.  If you are seeking relief from any of these things, book your next Deep Tissue massage online instantly!

Time to relax

Relaxation – the main goal of this massage is to fully relax. Therapists will typically use long soft strokes directed towards the heart to improve circulation and may target a few trigger points if you want that.

You can also enjoy an improvement in skin tone and appearance due to improved blood circulation. Some people have reported an increase in flexibility post-massage.

While reducing physical and emotional stress, a Relaxation Massage may also temporarily lower blood pressure and help manage stress-related affiliations. This massage also stimulates the release of positive brain chemicals that promote a feeling of well-being.

The ultimate goal for our massage therapists at Precision Wellness is to provide you with the most enjoyable massage experience possible.  They will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed, whether that be through a Relaxation massage or a Deep Tissue massage. Book online today!

Massage & Working at a Desk

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Desk workers are notorious for sharing some of the worst aches and pains because they are confined to a chair for 8 hours a day. Not only does the affect your body physically but can also take a toll on your mental health as well. Many office workers experience back pain, headaches, stiff joints, and more ailments. Massage can help realign your spine to fix your posture from bending over a computer all day and help to relieve the pains associated with desk work.

Massages can counteract the bad postures your body is put through during the day. That means our deep tissue massage will work past the first layer of muscle tissue to relieve chronic pain and increase joint mobility. Not to mention, our relaxation massage is great to engage the sympathetic nervous system and relax the mind and body. This is especially great for people that have very high-stress jobs or tend to get anxious during job projects. What better way to unwind than with a massage?

The strain of looking at a computer all day tends to give us headaches and migraines that just don’t seem to go away. Massages increase blood flow circulation and smooth out those tense muscles in order for them to heal. This gives your body a chance to relax and enjoy the break away from the desk.

It’s not just your back and shoulders that feel the pressure – You can develop knots in your forearms and stiffness in your wrists from typing. With a full-body massage, we’ll be able to work out the kinks so you can keep pounding that keyboard.

Massage is a great natural way to improve productivity, alleviate stress, and heal your body’s aches without the use of chemicals or drugs. While each situation is different, your body can greatly benefit from a professional massage tailored to your unique needs.

With many different massage techniques available, Precision Wellness is your go-to for any and all treatments. Let us know your specific ailments when you come to see us, and we’ll help you decide the perfect massage for you! We offer deep tissue, neuromuscular, relaxation, Thai, and herbal oil-infused massage at our location right here in Springfield, Missouri!

Book Your Massage ASAP!

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There’s no denying a massage is calming — until you start feeling guilty for indulging in a little special treatment.

A small new study excuses us all from the guilt: Massage therapy isn’t just a way to relax, it’s also a way to alleviate muscle soreness and improve blood flow, according to recent research.

Other benefits of massage have long been touted, but research is usually limited. Still, we think there are some pretty good reasons to book an appointment ASAP.

Massage can reduce pain.

A 2011 study found that massage helped people with lower back pain to feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t get a rubdown. That’s good news for the eight in ten Americans who experience debilitating back pain at least once in their lives, Time.com reported.

“We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga,” Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Massage also seems to lessen pain among people with osteoarthritis.

It can help you sleep.

The calming treatment can also help you spend more time asleep, according to research from Miami University’s Touch Research Institute. In one study of people with fibromyalgia, 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks resulted in nearly an hour more of sleep, plus deeper sleep, she said.

Massage may ward off colds.

There’s a small body of research that suggests massage boosts immune function. A 2010 study, believed to be the largest study on massage’s effects on the immune system, found that 45 minutes of Swedish massage resulted in significant changes in white blood cells and lymphocytes, which help protect the body from bugs and germs.

It could make you more alert.

At least one study has linked massage to better brainpower. In a 1996 study, a group of adults completed a series of math problems faster and with more accuracy after a 15-minute chair massage than a group of adults who were told to just sit in a chair and relax during those 15 minutes.

Massage may ease cancer treatment.

Among patients receiving care for cancer, studies have noted multiple benefits of massage, including improved relaxation, sleep, and immune system function as well as decreased fatigue, pain, anxiety, and nausea.

It may alleviate depression symptoms.

A 2010 review of the existing studies examining massage in people with depression found that all 17 pieces of research noted positive effects. However, the authors recommend additional research into standardizing massage as a treatment and the populations who would most benefit from it.

Massage could help with headaches.

The power of touch seems to help limit headache pain. A 2002 study found that massage therapy reduced the frequency of chronic tension headaches. And in a very small 2012 study, 10 male patients with migraine headaches noted significant pain reduction after neck and upper back massage and manipulation. You may even be able to reap the benefits without seeing a professional: Start by applying gentle pressure with your fingertips to your temples, then move them in a circular motion along the hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, WebMD reported.

Stress reduction is scientific.

Between the dim lights, soothing music, and healing touch, it certainly feels like stress melts away during a massage, but research suggests a very literal reduction of cortisol, a major stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can contribute to serious health issues, like high blood pressure and blood sugar, suppressed immune system function, and obesity.

A Sobering Experience

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When Brendan C., a Chicago-based marathon runner and coach and recovering alcoholic with 20 years of sobriety under his belt, went for a recent massage with his regular therapist, the muscles in his calves and lower back were intractable. His therapist asked him what was going on. Brendan said he had no idea.

The therapist continued working on him. As she did, Brendan began to feel profoundly sad. He realized he was finally feeling the stress fall-out of the recent break-up of a long-time relationship. Only then did his muscles begin to release. “That’s the thing with addicts,” he says, wryly. “We don’t always know what’s going on with us.”

This emotional disassociation can often be a double whammy for those struggling with addictions. “We live in a culture that doesn’t do a good job teaching anyone how to relax, both physically and mentally,” says Jennifer Broadwell, DOM, ADS, an acupuncturist and director of the Wellness Spot, an integrative health center affiliated with the Florida House Experience, a rehab facility based in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

However, this could be changing. More and more, centers such as the Wellness Spot offer a host of non-talk therapies, including massage, as part of their recovery programs. In fact, massage is one of the most popular offerings at the Wellness Spot, with the six therapists doing approximately 200 massages a week.

The center also offers acupuncture, chiropractic services, yoga, meditation and nutritional counseling. Through all of these modalities, but especially massage, “Clients can now feel what it’s like to be present in their own bodies,” says Broadwell.

The Long Road

Recovery is a process, and a difficult one. “Often, the client cannot even articulate what is going on,” Broadwell says. “Because massage is not a talk therapy, it can meet them wherever they are, even if they don’t have the skills to tell us.”

Maureen Schwehr, NMD, a naturopathic physician and craniosacral instructor who works at the integrative clinic at Sierra Tucson, an in-patient rehab facility near Tucson, Arizona, says bodywork offerings are invaluable to the rehab clients, most all of whom choose to participate in them.The massage offerings at Sierra Tucson include Swedish massage, myofascial release, zero balancing, shiatsu, SomatoEmotional Release, and Chi Nei Tsang, a type of Chinese abdomen massage.

Schwehr says that most conventional therapy for recovery focuses on the mind. Once you start considering a mind/body/spirit model, she explains, you have more treatment options. She thinks of the connection this way: “The spirit is who we really are. Our mind is our thinking brain, and our body houses this. If you’re an addict, you often have to ignore your body, because you are, in essence, hurting your ‘house.’” Addicts often continue their destructive behavior by not checking in with their ‘home,’ or their body, she says.

Of course, destructive addictive behavior can have ramifications far beyond the individual addict. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addictions impact nearly all American families in some way. Alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances alone cost more than half a trillion dollars a year, in everything from health care costs to crime to accidents to special services in education.

The jury is still out on what causes addiction—most experts say it’s a combination of physiological susceptibility and environment. However, nearly everyone agrees that recovery is not about simple willpower. As one well-known Alcoholics Anonymous aphorism says, “We’re sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”

Gabor Mate, M.D., a physician who worked with addicts in the drug-infested Downtown Eastside of Vancouver for years and author of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost: Close encounters with addiction, says that addiction seems designed to help users escape pain. “All addictions serve as distractions at the very least,” he says.

Nearly any behavior can be addictive—even seemingly benign activities such as shopping, eating and sex. Mate says it really doesn’t matter what the “drug” of choice is—all addictions involve the same brain circuits and brain chemicals. The NIDA says that when addicts get a hit of their drug of choice, dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitter—floods their brain’s reward system.

This may be why massage, which has been proven to increase dopamine and serotonin, and decrease cortisol, can help those in recovery. Schwehr says this piece is crucial, especially in the early stages of withdrawal when dopamine often drops significantly. “This can be a very uncomfortable time,” she says.

Other physiological and emotional issues in recovery include pain, agitation, anxiety and sleep problems. Massage—nearly any kind of massage—also helps with all of these, says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the University of Miami’s School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute, which studies massage. “The body releases fewer stress hormones when being massaged,” Field says. Stress hormones, including cortisol, weaken the immune system and can lead to increased pain.“ This becomes, a vicious cycle,” Field says, “one that massage can help break.”

Also, in a study published in 2002, fibromyalgia patients, after receiving massage twice weekly for fi ve weeks, slept and felt better. Levels of neurotransmitter substance P—which your body emits when you are sleep deprived—decreased. “We found a direct relationship,” says Field.

Massage also helps with overall relaxation by stimulating pressure receptors, which enhance vagal activity. Since the vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves in the brain, this decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases stress hormones, according to Field. “You will sleep better, be less anxious,” says Field. “It’s a whole chemical reaction that is happening.”

Even those who are going through withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine or opiods relaxed more deeply with a simple chair massage than with 20-minute “relaxation sessions,” where participants sat in a quiet room and focused on their breathing. And those who received the massage sustained the relaxation benefits for 24 hours.

On a more superficial level, clients often just feel better after a massage, says Broadwell. “We’re able to show them, ‘This is what relaxation feels like,” she says. “Someone puts healing hands on you, and suddenly you become aware,” Mate says. “Often people say, ‘I never knew I was that sad/happy.’” To this end, massage therapists may have an advantage over medical doctors like him when working with this clientele, says Mate.

“Massage therapists get the stress/disease connection more than doctors do,” he says. “They actually can feel when a client is holding some tension. Physicians don’t put their hands on people like that.”

In Mate’s experience, most of the addicts he worked with—if not all—suffered early life trauma. In fact, he sees childhood trauma and emotional loss as the template for addictions. Many had boundaries violated. Therefore, tread carefully. Ground yourself first. “Make sure what you’re doing is to help them—not to be a hero, or to save anyone,” he says. If a client relapses, he says, and you get angry with them, then you are in a sense violating their boundaries. “Whatever happens to them, don’t take it personally,” Mate adds.

Diane Ansel, a Chicago-based massage therapist, says consider yourself a guide more than anything. “You work on them, and let it go. It’s up to them to turn it around,” she explains.

What you can offer, she says, is simple self-care techniques for between sessions. Ansel says she often takes inspiration in a long-told story of Gandhi. “I love the story of a mother who came to Gandhi and asked him to tell her child not to eat sugar,” she says. “Gandhi said come back next week. When they returned, Gandhi simply told the child, ‘Stop eating sugar.’ When the mother asked, why did they have to go and return for that? He replied, ‘I hadn’t given up sugar yet.’”

Mate says we can’t all wait until we’re perfect in order to help others. “To the extent that you haven’t dealt with your own stuff—or glimpsed your own possibilities—for you can only take people as far as you can go yourself. But no one ever finishes, so you don’t have to wait, just be aware. It takes a lot of self-awareness,” he says.

He also says that, in essence, all addictions are about self-soothing. Therefore, giving them a pathway with which they can connect to their bodies can be enormously empowering. Broadwell sees this with the clients at her wellness center all the time.

The clients start to realize, she says, that the “medicine” is inside of them. “This is a great paradigm shift,” she explains. First, she sees the effects of massage on the faces of the clients. “And then we hear it everyday in patient feedback: That the chronic pain is starting to improve, that they can now sleep with less or no medication,” she adds.

Schwehr says that one of her clients told her that the massage changed her experience at the rehab facility by “100 percent.” Another client told her that the bodywork she had done allowed her to feel connected to her body in a way she had never felt before.

Massage can even help with some basic rewiring of our brains, knowing what we know now about its neuroplasticity. Often, says Mate, early touch experiences of those who struggle with addiction have been “the opposite of healing,” which is partly why he advocates compassionate treatment for addicts rather than tough love. “[With massage therapy,] when they are being touched, it is not to give someone else pleasure, but to put themselves in touch with themselves,” he says. “If there’s some brain circuit that says to be touched is to be hurt,” Mate adds, “imagine being touched not to be hurt, but to be helped.”

Brendan C. experiences this rewiring, one day at a time. Twenty years sober, he says he’s still learning every day how to get in touch with his body and his feelings. Brendan says that many people with addictive personalities do not feel comfortable touching or being touched, himself included. “Part of the reason I drank,” he says, “was to avoid having intimate contact with those around me—my parents, children, wife.”

However, being willing to open up and to trust has made a world of difference. “Massage builds trust. Perhaps for the first time, the body can be completely relaxed, receptive, without the fear that the other person is going to hurt you,” he says.

This is what Schwehr sees all the time at the clinic, she says. “When someone has an opportunity to be touched, to have therapeutic work on their body, it can bring the [recovery] work home to a much deeper level,” she believes. “It can help connect the body to the emotions. I once read that emotions are our body’s way of telling us how it feels about what’s going on. When you bring someone back to their body, it’s like bringing them home.”

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