Being a massage therapist is such a rewarding profession. Knowing that the services I provide help other people feel better in their bodies and be able to participate more fully in their daily activities, regardless of what symptoms and diagnosis they have, means a lot to me. And because therapeutic massage is becoming more mainstream and available in places other than just spas, more people are experiencing its far reaching impact.
Many people are in pain and for all sorts of reasons, whether it be a car accident, an injury at work or a simple activity like moving a piece of furniture. When someone is in pain, it may affect their quality of life to the extent that they can’t perform everyday activities, get a good night’s rest, or go to work. Pain medications are sometimes prescribed but they can have unpleasant side effects, which is not the case with massage.
Pain medications are becoming well known as a frequent pathway to serious addiction. This can have severe consequences, as we all know, given the current opioid epidemic, which is widely considered to stem from the overuse of opioid pain killers. This is true in Kentucky and in the nation as a whole. On the other hand, massage relaxes the muscle tissue which reduces painful contractions and spasms. It also reduces compression of nerves that happens as a result of the muscles surrounding them contracting. Massage therapy triggers the release of your body’s own natural pain killers (opioids) in the brain. The difference between a manufactured opioid and one that is naturally occurring is the addiction component. When your body produces this chemical, it is used to benefit your body, but when it is man- made, it becomes something your body craves
In regards to pain, massage therapy also speeds up the flow of oxytocin, which is a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calmness and contentment. Along with easing your pain, you just feel better at the end of a session.
Regular massage therapy is also beneficial for those with autoimmune disease. It helps with the secondary problems that happen to the body as a result of the pain, fatigue and dysfunction. When muscles are tight they put an increased load on the joints they cross and can aggravate already sore and inflamed joints. Massage relaxes these muscles so they don’t pull. It increases circulation to tissues when your body isn’t able to do its job. The pressure of massage moving towards the heart helps pump fluid out of extremities and gets it moving so that fresh oxygenated blood will replace what was squeezed out of the area. Massage also calms the sympathetic nervous system, which is the flight-or-flight/high-stress part of your nervous system. That decreases the burden on organs like the adrenal glands that are pushed to overproduce adrenaline to force the body to stay in a high state of stressed trauma and readiness to deal with a real or feared emergency or potential danger. Sometimes the body is stuck in a state of chronic trauma that needs to be released.
One of the many other benefits of massage therapy is its effect on those with cancer. While it doesn’t treat the cancer itself, it helps reduce the side effects caused by conventional treatments and improves quality of life and well-being. It does require some specialized knowledge on the part of the therapist to work with a person until he or she has been in remission for a year, but studies show that the person can experience reduced pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression with massage therapy. It also improves sleep, range of movement, mental clarity and alertness, affecting overall quality of life during treatment.
The power of massage is incredible. It really does do so much good for your whole being beyond just your body, without the side effects of medication or surgery and at very little cost or commitment of time. And I get to be a part of that process! I feel so fortunate to have a profession that makes other people feel better and me too. In my book, that’s a win-win situation.