How Does Massage Benefit You?

Woman Feels the Sun
Relax into your massage like relaxing into the warmth of the sun.

First off, exactly what is massage?

Webster defines massage as “manipulation of tissues with the hand for relaxation or therapeutic purposes.” This is a good general definition, and looking at it closely will help us to understand massage more clearly.

When thinking of massage and the word “tissues”, most people think of the muscles. And yes, muscles are a very important part of massage, but there are other tissues in our bodies that can be therapeutically treated to improve our sense of well-being.

Fascia is a hugely important tissue in the body; in my opinion and experience, more pivotal when relieving pain than even the muscles. Yet, it’s still not widely known by people. To learn more, read my blog: Fascia: Stretch It! Dance It! Massage It!

What about the nerves? This too is a tissue in our body that can be influenced by massage. Nerve impingement and aggravation can occur when the muscles and fascia tighten near the nerves. This can very easily create chronic issues in the body.

Water Flowing Over Rock
Let the healing water of your massage therapy session wash away the stress and pain.

There are also the fluids of the body: the blood, lymph, and cerebral spinal fluid, which baths the central nervous system.

Can massage benefit all of these tissues? Absolutely!

How does massage benefit all these different tissues?

The word “massage” often brings to mind a candle-lit room in a spa with essential oils, relaxing music, and a gentle Swedish-style massage. This is certainly massage, but the world of massage goes far beyond just the spa experience.

There are many approaches to working with the tissues of the body. A licensed massage therapist can be trained in one or many of these modalities. Here are just some of these modalities: Deep Tissue Massage, CranioSacral Therapy, Myofascial Release, Energy Work, Lymphatic Drainage, TriggerPoint Massage, Reflexology, and the list goes on.

Massage is not simply rubbing the muscles. It’s much more than that. Depending on the training of the therapist, massage sessions can be as different as the people receiving them. There can be the massaging of muscles with oil; there can be sustained holds to help the fascia release; there can be very gentle holds that help the body to heal itself.

How can these different types of massage benefit you?

Pain in Elbow
When you feel pain in the muscles, it’s your body asking to you schedule a massage appointment.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these modalities and how they can benefit you. I’m going to primarily focus on the modalities in which I am trained. I chose to develop this tool set because I have a goal at Listening Hand Therapeutic Massage to help people live as pain free as possible. I’ve found that this “tool set” (this combination of modalities) has consistently helped people with relief from and management of chronic pain, greatly improving their sense of well-being.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage helps the muscles to relax and the fluid (particularly the blood and lymph) to move through the body more freely. This nourishes and improves the overall functioning of the body. It also increases flexibility, decreases cortisol (which means you will feel a decrease in stress) and increases serotonin (which means you will feel relaxed and happy).

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is often thought of as the same as deep- or heavy-pressure massage. But it is not. It can involve a heavy pressure, however, a truer description of deep tissue massage is that it works through the layers of tension in the tissue to get to the deepest tissue. This can often be done with a very soft touch. It often includes working with the fascia and the muscles.

This therapy is great for relieving chronic pain, optimizing the body for people who want to improve their sense of well-being. And because the body feels better, it lends itself to improving the way we think and feel about life.

CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral Therapy is a type of massage that is very different than what is commonly thought of as massage. Instead of focusing on the massaging the muscles tissue, if focuses on relieving the tissue around the central nervous system. It does this by releasing restrictions in the fascia through a very soft touch and gentle tractioning.

Because it relieves tension around the central nervous system, it can have one of the profoundest healing effects on the body. It can quickly correct chronic issues that other modalities can’t address. It goes to the root of the problem.

To learn more about CranioSacral Therapy, read my two blogs: What Is CranioSacral Therapy? and What Everyone Should Know About Pain Relief and CranioSacral Therapy.

Man by beautiful mountain lake
Like the relief and peace that comes from the grand views of nature, a massage therapy can quickly change the way you view your life.

How do I know which one is for me?

Great question! I’m glad you asked ;).

A well trained and experienced massage therapist will be able to guide you to the modality that will best serve you. If the therapist is not trained in a particular type of massage, they should know a therapist that is and can refer you to where you will get the best help.

My hope as always is that this information empowers you to make choices to feel better in your body!


To benefit from massage, click here!

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Things To Make You Feel Better!

Blue-Purple Chrysanthemum Blossoming

Welcome!

As a massage therapist, I care about the whole health of my clients. I care how they feel during the massage as well as how they experience daily life when they leave the massage table.

The body, mind, and emotions are all related—there is no separation. My goal as a therapist is to help my clients feel their best, and this includes considering how the body, mind, and emotions are connected. Care in all areas can contribute to overall well being.

First of All, Why Do We Feel Pain?

Pain in knee
When your body speaks to you through pain, it’s asking for a massage.

Putting it simply, there are many contributing factors to making us feel pain in our bodies. Most of us know the common reasons for pain:

  • injuries from accidents
  • injuries from overuse (like a torn muscle)
  • soreness from intense exercise (or a new exercise routine)
  • stress tension from worrying

However, Have You Ever Considered:

  • your body can feel pain from inactivity, like sitting at the computer all day?
  • rolling your ankle could eventually lead to chronic headaches?

    Stretching at Dawn
    Feeling better is never too far away.
  • injuries you experienced as a child can still effect you today?

Even though an injury or overuse always contribute to pain, there is more to it than simply that.

What Can You Do To Make Things Better?

Most of us know many ways to improve our health and there is always more to learn. Think of the things that you already know that can help your body feel better:

Woman enjoying nature.
When massage takes away the pain, you can get back to enjoying life again.

 

  • massage
  • yoga
  • rest and relaxation
  • healthy eating

But, do you know that breathing full breaths can help your body feel better? What about the way you are thinking: Do you know positive thinking can decrease stress and improve your overall well-being?

There is a wealth of knowledge to learn that can make your experience in life better and a variety of self-care techniques to suit your personality and schedule.

There Is Always More To Learn

Child's hand in parents hand.
The healing touch makes all the difference

Since early 2000 I have been on a journey to learn about healing and whole health. I’ve tried many things that don’t work and found many more that do work to improve my over-all well-being.

In the Listening Hand Blog series, each one will offer information and suggestions that empower you to improve your health and well-being! I educate about massage as powerful healing tool. I also share techniques you can use at home to heal yourself and keep healthy.

So I invite you to look around my blog, which is available through my website. Begin or continue your journey of learning through this resource. Read on and return many times!


To get help feeling better, click here!

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Fascia: Stretch It! Dance It! Massage It!

What is Fascia?

Dancing to mobilize fascia
Dancing helps to mobilize the fascia.

Imagine one connected, continuous sheet of plastic wrap surrounding and giving form and containment to every part of your body…muscles, organs, nerves, veins. And, imagine that this plastic wrap can fluctuate between a liquid state and varying degrees of solidity. Kind of weird, huh? Well, this is a pretty good description of fascia —the soft connective tissue that holds us together.
Fascia is a tissue that surrounds every muscle in our body. Not only does it give form to the muscles, but when it is in its ideal state, it is essentially liquid and allows the muscles to glide over each other and function as they were intended. When this natural gliding happens, there is no muscular pain or restriction of mobility; basically, your body feels good.
However, when you experience stiffness in the body: aches and pains, or general discomfort, almost certainly the fascia in your body has become restricted. This restriction occurs due to repetitive motions (like typing on the computer all day), inactivity (like sitting at a computer all day), and also through traumas to the body through an accident or a surgery.

The Magic of Fascia

This connective tissue has this amazing quality of solidifying in order to actually save energy in our bodies. When we do something repeatedly, even sitting, the fascia essentially forms a mold of that position, so we don’t have to use as much muscle energy to keep us upright. The down side of this, in the case of sitting all day, is when we stand up we have to use a lot of muscle energy to reposition all the solidified fascia. It is during these times that we notice pain in our backs and tension in our shoulders.
Another amazing quality of fascia: it will solidify around injuries and traumas that have occurred to the body. This function provides support for that specific area of the bodyso that it can heal. This is a wonderful attribute. However, when the body has healed itself, the solidified connective tissue remains.

So why is it a problem to have solidified fascia?

As I mentioned earlier, one of the problems is that there is restriction in the movement in the body. This restriction can create aches and pains throughout the body. However, there is another issue that takes place. Remember the description of this connective tissue in the first paragraph? Everything in the body is connected. If there is one area of the body that has solidified fascia, then that will be influencing the rest of the body, subtly and not so subtly pulling on that continuous tissue that surrounds our anatomy. This influence, when left unaddressed, creates in the body, what massage therapists simply call, a pattern. There is a pattern of tension. So, what starts as something small can develop into something quite complexed.

Not to Fear!

 

Stretching helps to mobilize the fascia
Stretching helps to mobilize the fascia.

Introducing movement is what gets the fascia back to its liquid state. And it is movement that is an essential component in keeping things open in the body. Daily stretching, exercising, and dancing are great ways to get the body moving and softening the fascia. To have a morning routine or daily practice of movement will greatly benefit your body’s sense of well being because you will be liquifying the fascia and allowing your body to function as intended.

If the issue has gone on for too long and there is chronic restriction in the body, be it because of inactivity, extended repetitive motions, or a trauma, it requires manual therapy, like massage to actually liquify the fascia again. A skilled practitioner can easily identify where the fascial “restrictions” are, knows the appropriate techniques to soften the tissue, and can recognize clearly when the restriction is released.

Massage helps to mobilize the fascia.
Massage helps to mobilize the fascia.

To maintain both health and a good feeling in your body, stretching, dancing, and exercise are key. To correct chronic issues, massage is essential. If you have chronic pain in your body, begin with movement. And, this movement also prepares you for receiving massage because it opens up the tissue in your body. If you are in pain, or just feel restricted in your body, there is no need for it. Your fascia and be brought back into an ideal state with just a little work.


To get help relieving pain in your body, click here!

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