Can Massage Really help with my Mental health??

Massage Therapy

Massage has a huge number of benefits to ALL the systems of the body. By massaging and relaxing the muscles there is a domino effect to all the other systems of the body. We also bring about a relaxation that brings the body into homeostasis, a place of balance where the body can repair and renew.

Researchers at Taiwan’s E-Da Hospital and College of Medicine reviewed 17 scientific studies involving 786 people. The findings showed massage had many positive benefits for people experiencing depression and led to a reduction in symptoms. At Japan’s Kyushu University, a team of experts found facial massage soothed participants’ physiological distress. They concluded that massage activated participants’ sympathetic nervous system, reducing their anxiety and improving their mood.

The Muscular System

The muscles are the most obvious part of the body to benefit from massage.

Through over use and also through stress (due to the fight and flight response) the muscles can stay in a contracted state, causing imbalance in the body. Tight muscles will pull posture out of alignment and can constrict blood flow.

Massaging Muscles will:

1)         Increase flexibility by stretching and relaxing the muscle and encouraging it to return back to its’ normal relaxed length.

2)    Remove waste products. When muscles work, they burn oxygen and glucose and produce lactic acid. This can build up in the muscles and add to muscle soreness. Think of it as sticky honey getting in between the muscle fibres.

 

3)         Reduce the formation of adhesions. Through overuse and wear and tear, microscopic tears occur in the muscle fibres. These if not treated will be replaced by inelastic, scar tissue which is very inflexible. We can work into muscles to reduce their formation.

 

4)        Improve muscle tone.  Healthy muscles are in a constant state of contraction and relaxation, invisible and we are unable to feel it. In someone who is inactive, bed ridden or paralyzed, they will have poor or no muscle tone. Massage can improve the tone of the muscles of the inactive.

5)         Reduce cramps. We can increase the flexibility and tone of the muscle and reduce waste products within the muscle, which may reduce cramps. We can also massage the muscle with care during a cramp to reduce the duration of it.

 

The Skeletal System

 

1)         Improves posture.  Once the muscles are relaxed and lengthened, posture will improve. Poor posture will impact on the other systems of the body. For example rounded shoulders and tight pectorals and a slumped posture will prevent the lungs from expanding fully.

 

2)         Improves mobility.  In some one with a poor range of movement within their joints, massage and passive movements can ease the joint and improve the range of movement. This is due to a warming up of the synovial fluid within the joint making it more fluid and less viscous. Movement causes a release of fresh synovial fluid into the joint, where the joint may have been quite dry, causing friction and pain.

 

3)         Release of red blood cells from the bone marrow.  An indirect result of massage is to cause a release of red blood cells from bone marrow, which can only enhance health and energy as they carry life giving oxygen.

 

4)        Increases circulation of blood to the bones.

 

The Cardio-vascular System

 

1)         Massage encourages blood flow to the extremities, organs and superficial blood vessels. We have enough capillaries in our body if lined up end to end to go around the world not once but twice!! Yet we only have 5-6 litres of blood. Whenever possible therefore, we apply firm effleurage to push blood into superficial capillaries. This is often noticeable on the skin where particularly on white skin a redness may be seen.

 

2)         Improves the venous return.  Blood has to work against gravity to return from the extremities back to the heart. Whenever possible, particularly on the limbs, we massage towards the heart to assist the return of venous blood. (blood carried in the veins).

 

3)         Lowers blood pressure.  By massaging we can have two positive effects on blood pressure. Firstly we help the client relax and their heart rate (number of times the heart beats in a minute), decreases. As blood pressure is measured by gauging the pressure exerted on the artery wall, each time blood passes through the artery, fewer beats per minute will automatically reduce blood pressure.

 

Secondly, tight muscles create a resistance to blood flow, (known as peripheral resistance), which leads to an increase in blood pressure. I liken this to a garden hose where the tap is switched on, but someone puts their foot on the watering end. Eventually, such pressure will build up at the tap end, that the hose may fly off the tap. Tight muscles are very difficult for blood to flow through and pressure builds up back at the heart. Relaxed muscles will therefore reduce blood pressure.

 

The Respiratory System

1)         Encourages deep breathing.  When people are stressed they breathe rapidly and shallowly, not inspiring enough life giving oxygen and not breathing out enough carbon dioxide, which can make the blood acidic. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which slows and deepens breathing. Improved posture will also make breathing deeper.

2)         Stimulates the intercostal muscles.  The intercostal muscles attached to the ribs when contracted, pull on the ribs, which expand the lungs to cause inspiration. We can improve the condition and tone of these muscles.

3)         Improves gaseous exchange.  In the lungs and at cellular level throughout the body, there is an exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide. This will be stimulated by massage.

The Lymphatic System

1)         Massage assists with the drainage of lymph from the cells to the lymph nodes. It improves the circulation of lymph and the removal of toxins from the cells.

 

2)         Boosts immunity.  Massage stimulates the production of lymphocytes (antibodies) which give us immunity. Also by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, immunity is stimulated.

 

3)         Reduces oedema (swelling).  A pooling of lymph due for example to injury or inactivity, can be reduced by careful effleurage towards the lymph nodes.

The Nervous System

1)         Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.  This has the effect of slowing down the systems of the body, (except digestion) and encouraging the body to repair and renew. It also switches on immunity.

 

2)         Creates in-nervation.  By squeezing into muscles we may impede the nerve message to the muscle for a fraction of a second. If the message is saying “be tight”, we may break this message and cause the muscle to relax.

 

3)         Improves transmission of nerve impulses.  The overall stimulating effect of massage will stimulate the neurons, (nerve cells), improving the efficiency of the transmission of messages.

 

4)        Pain control.  We have different nerve receptors to take different messages back to the brain. Some of these messages travel quicker than others. Pleasurable messages travel quicker than painful ones. We can therefore mask pain by giving a pleasurable massage. This phenomenon is known as the pain gate control theory. Heat works in a similar way. If people are unwell and in pain they may not sleep well. By reducing their pain for a while, we may improve the quality of their sleep, which will have a positive impact on their health.

 

5)         Psychologically:

– Massage gives us a feeling of well being. Research has shown that babies who are not given loving touch may wither and even die.

– It allows us to switch off, unwind and be at peace for a while.

– Stilling the body and calming the mind allows us to get in touch with our spiritual side.

 

The Endocrine System

 

1)         By balancing the body, and bringing it back to a state of homeostasis, the release of hormones may become more balanced.

 

2)         Relaxation and massage counteracts the negative effects of adrenaline, the hormone released to cause the fight and flight response.

 

3)         Production of endorphins. The body’s natural opiates, to give us a high feeling.

 

4)        Production of oxytocin, which is associated with breast feeding mothers, but is actually released by everyone and gives us a nurturing and loving feeling. It will be released by the massage therapist as well as the recipient of the massage.

The Reproductive System

1)        Balances the release of reproductive hormones.

2)         Relaxes people and has a role in enhancing love making, fertility etc.

The Urinary System

1)             Improves elimination of urine.

The Digestive System

1)  Due to the stress response, our digestion systems can be upset or switched off. Massage will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to switch digestion back on.

2)         The mechanical action of massage conducted in a clockwise direction will stimulate and assist the process of digestion and peristalsis. (The muscular squeezing of food along the intestines, by the intestinal walls.)

3)         Massage speeds up the elimination of waste products from the body, reducing their toxicity and alleviating constipation.

The Skin

1)         Massage increases the blood supply, which carries nutrients to the skin and may be seen as a redness (erythema).

2)         Massage can have an exfoliating effect and removes dead skin cells.

3)         The skin will be fed with the nutrients in the oils.  The oil goes directly into the blood stream and feeds all the organs of the body.

4)        Improves the condition of the skin.

5)         Can reduce cellulite with diet and exercise.

6)        Improves the elasticity of the skin, particularly scarred skin.

Overall, massage gives the client a better body awareness, the first key to taking greater responsibility for their health and well being.

Reflexology – How does it actually work?

Reflexology

How Does Reflexology Work?

Reflexology helps release stress, which in turn helps the body heal and regenerate itself. There are several theories about how this process work.

daily-mail,-reflex-article,-14july2012

Theory #1: Reflexology works with the central nervous system.

illustration of the central nervous system This theory builds on research done in the 1890s by Sir Henry Head and Sir Charles Sherrington, who began to show through their research that a neurological relationship exists between the skin and the internal organs, and that the whole nervous system adjusts to a stimulus.

According to the theory, the reflexologist’s application of pressure to feet, hands, or ears sends a calming message from the peripheral nerves in these extremities to the central nervous system, which in turn signals the body to adjust the tension level. This enhances overall relaxation, brings internal organs and their systems into a state of optimum functioning, and increases blood supply (which brings additional oxygen and nutrients to cells and enhances waste removal). It positively affects the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, immune, and neuropeptide systems in the body.

Using Oils to Calm and Relax after a busy day.

Essential Oils

I was speaking to my neighbour recently about what she could do to relax as she was stressed out with work and as I reeled off the masses of relaxation techniques that I use, we got onto the topic of essential oils.

She, like many others I speak to, she was not convinced they work.  I knew that she was trying to stop smoking and so I asked her if she had a patch on, which she replied yes.  “So you pop a patch onto your skin and you just believe this is doing what it is saying it is”…then a lightbulb went on and she realised that what we put onto our skin absorbs into our body.

I rattled off some of the ones I would use for helping to relax and unwind after a busy day  and the various methods that you can use the oils.

My top Relaxation Essential Oils

Lavender

The lavender oil has been graded as one of the best essential oils for relaxation and health. This is because of the pharmacological benefits and the rich natural ingredients inherent in it. It helps in relieving stress and aids in giving a good night sleep. Also, it soothes and heals muscle cramps, helps to put the mind at a state of rest.

 

Lavender Essential Oil 10ml

Orange

This is botanically known as Citrus Sinensis. It has great results when used by either adults or children. It is a great essential oil for relaxation as it helps to calm the mind, ease stress and put frustration at bay.

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Ylang Ylang

This essential oil has great benefits to heart health. It resolves issues such as palpitations of the heart, eases the body tension and helps to balance the hormones of the body. It also has high therapeutic effects to ensure that people sleep well at night after the stress of the day.

 

Geranium

This essential oil is the key in boosting the immune system and it is also very important in handling issues that relate to menopause in women. It balances the hormones in the body and it is also good for mature skin and can be used for other forms of skin care. Generally, geranium calms the nerves and it uplifts and balances the body system.

Image result for geranium

Frankincense

Both historically and in line with ancient traditions, this oil has a rich background. Botanically known as Boswellia Carterii, this oil is quite soothing and calming. It is one of the best options in putting the body and soul at ease. This beautifully fragranced and richly endowed oil works against various forms of irritation and lack of sleep. As with most essential oils, it is also good for the body and helps to relieve the nerves when it is tense or exhausted. Frankincense is a good option and delivers high value to its users.

Spearmint

This mint based essential oil is also known botanically as Mentha Spicata. It is good for mental health and helps to put the emotional state of the user in the right frame. It also has great soothing effects and has curative properties. It is also good for use when you want a positive body stimulant especially after undergoing training periods or activities.

Rose

Premenstrual syndrome can sometimes lead to hormonal imbalance and this can lead to certain levels of discomfort to our nerves. Rose essential oil is very good for handling this issue. It is good on the nerves and also very calming and soothing to the skin. It is pertinent to note that some individuals have a uniquely sensitive skin and when this scenario arises, the best bet is to make use of rose essential oil.

While each of the oils above can be used alone, you may find that you enjoy blending them as well. You can experiment to find a blend that works best to help you relax and manage stress. Here are some ideas.

Calming Blend Blend these EOs in a small glass container, and then use the blend in one of the ways described at the bottom of this section.

  • 4 drops Lavender
  • 2 drops Geranium
  • 2 drops Ylang Ylang
  • 2 drops Sweet Orange (or Tangerine)

Deep Relaxation Blend Add these oils to a small glass container, and then use the blend in one of the ways described at the top of this page.

  • 3 drops Lavender
  • 3 drops Tangerine (or Sweet Orange)
  • 1 drop Ylang Ylang
  • 2 drops Patchouli

Ways to Use Essential Oils

  • For massage, dilute 3-5 drops of the aromatherapy blend in an ounce of carrier oil (such as grapeseed or jojoba oil).
  • For diffusion, use the blend (undiluted) in an electric nebulizer. For passive diffusion, place a few drops on a tissue or cotton ball and sniff.
  • For the bath, use 1-4 drops of the blend mixed with 1/4-1/2 cup bath salts, or with 2 ounces of milk (not non-fat milk). A word of caution: especially without the milk, the oils can sit on top of the water rather than mixing in, allowing them to make undiluted contact with your skin. Do a “patch test” before using them in the bath, to make sure that the oils don’t irritate your skin. (And believe me, they can!)

 

Essential Oil Cautions

  • Always keep EOs out of the reach of children. Do not use essential oils on children without discussing it first with their health care provider.
  • If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, have heart disease, epilepsy, high blood pressure or diabetes, seek the advice of a health care professional before using any aromatherapy/essential oils.
  • Skin test all oils before using. Apply a small amount to the skin on your inner arm. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs.
  • Do not ingest, either straight or blended. They are not intended to be taken orally.
  • Keep all aromatherapy products away from eyes and mucous membranes. If redness, burning, itching or irritation occur, stop using product immediately and consult your medical provider if self treatment is not effective. If irritation does occur, wash the area with mild soap, then apply vegetable oil, not water, to the affected area and dry.
  • Citrus oils are photosensitizers. Stay out of the sun after using

 

Have a look at some of the most amazing essential oils out there.

https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/annmulgrew/area/shop-online/category/essential-oils/