Waking up our Tissues
A common response after receiving a massage sometimes is: "Wow I didn’t know some of those spots were tight or sore"!
Reflecting on this response as practitioners we are almost always thinking that we have assisted our clients in becoming more aware of their muscle tissue. It is as if certain parts of their body have woken up from some sort of deep sleep or hibernation.
Is it bad or good that certain parts of our bodies have been sleeping per se? Have they been numb to physical and energetic stimuli for a long time?
Its not a bad or good thing. Our bodies being numb to sensation can happen. This is an opportunity to uncover why that part of your body is not "awake." Most importantly what is happening in that moment is an awareness is being acquired mostly by the person receiving massage but also by the practitioner.
As the receiver being able to feel physical sensations in specific areas on the body is enlightening and can bring a greater want and understanding of their own body. When this want to understand our bodies and be in tune with them begins, true healing commences.
The act of acknowledging as a receiver that you have felt areas of your body that you don’t really feel often or are not aware of is important. It is easy to just want to get off the table and be on your merry way. Engaging with your therapist and telling them what you felt during the massage can be so beneficial to ongoing treatments as well as how to address one’s own health moving forward.
As a receiver when coming across a sensation during a massage that is fairly foreign to you but feels safe and is not a cause of concern that is where usually a tissue is awakening and coming to life. This is exciting because of the opportunity that is now there to keep improving upon the health of the tissue and the body as a whole.
Feeling looser and more able to express certain parts of your body through a more fuller range of motion can feel like the best thing in the world especially if your body has been constricted in a specific area for a long time. This feeling of less constriction and a release in a way also improves our mental state.
Massage is a great way to immediately become more aware of our own bodies, to engage with tissue that we haven’t interacted with in a long time and to overall improve our health greatly.
Relaxation and Massage
One thing we do know is that if executed with precision and attentiveness massage therapy relaxes you. Relaxation is something if implemented with purpose in our lives it can help us to be better people. After a bout of relaxation we are able to be more engaged with our lives. We are able to think clearer, be more productive and focused, and really overall enhance all the facets of life.
You might ask why is this? Why does the simple practice of one human layering together different sequences of movements on another human create relaxation? One human system comes to mind when asking these questions to reveal the answer and that is the Nervous System. When we take a closer look at the nervous system it can reveal a lot to us about how massage therapy directly affects this system and just how profound this affect is. Below is a crash course on the nervous system and what its functions are.
The Nervous system is comprised into different divisions. There is the Central Nervous System which essentially is the control center of the body providing processing, memory, and regulation systems. The CNS gains information from sensory information and makes decisions on what subconscious or conscious actions to take with that information.
Then we have the Peripheral Nervous system. This system is comprised of all the parts outside of the brain and spinal cord which includes: Spinal nerves, ganglia, and sensory receptors.
The Somatic nervous system is a division within the PNS. It includes all of the voluntary efferent neurons which are motor neurons that carry neural impulses away from the CNS to our muscles to induce voluntary movement.
The Autonomic nervous system is another division within the PNS. This system controls all involuntary subconscious action done by visceral muscle tissue, cardiac muscle tissue, and glandular tissue. There also happen to be two divisions within the Autonomic nervous system.
- Sympathetic: This division houses our body’s “fight or flight” response to stress, danger, excitement, exercise, emotions, and embarrassment. This division increases respiration and heart rate, releases adrenaline, and other stress hormones while decreasing digestion to cope with these situations.
- Parasympathetic- This division forms the body’s “rest and digest” response when the body is relaxed, resting, or eating. This division is also responsible for undoing the taxing work the sympathetic division had to do during “fight or flight” situations.
And then there is the Enteric Nervous system which is part of the ANS and is responsible for regulating digestion and the function of the digestive organs.
As we can see from the information above the Nervous system is very sensitive, highly aware, and more or less drives the ability to relax and let go or react and make a split decision in a matter of seconds.
Massage directly taps into our parasympathetic division to create a space for us to recalibrate our minds and bodies and immediately eradicate stress. This is important because stress not only can exacerbate physical and mental health problems but it can also cause them.
During massage our brains and bodies slow down to a place of calm and serenity reaching sometimes a theta brain state (meditative state). It can be difficult sometimes for people to be able to reach that theta/parasympathetic state on their own because of the nature of our fast paced lives.
When life is busy and stressful and there never seems to be time to relax and let go massage can provide this opportunity immediately for you. Preventative health care is the way of the future and massage therapy is a pillar of this health care movement.