Therapies

Stress

How can massage help with Stress?

Academic studies have shown that stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels through massage. Whether this is because it helps to decrease cortisol and increase the flow of the ‘happy’ hormones serotonin and dopamine, it is not totally clear. One thing we do know is that humans are biologically wired to respond to touch. I strongly believe that the right type of touch, within a space where the client is able to feel safe and be supported, is hugely powerful in terms of stress relief. If clients are able to blend mindfulness techniques, guided relaxation and restorative yoga into the mix then it is even more powerful.

Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Rheumatoid arthritis and IBS all benefit from massage where the focus is on calming the sympathetic nervous system, and people who are suffering from musculoskeletal pain where central sensitisation may be a strong component of the pain also benefit from this type of massage. Where the aim is to calm the sympathetic nervous system and promote relief from the effects of stress, massage should not involve deep tissue work or trigger point work, both of which are often too much for a body that is already stressed to handle. The focus of the work should instead involve a combination of myofascial release, the use of hot stones and acupressure work, blended together with long, slow effleurage. I have found that many clients respond well to the use of warm oil, and find foot, facial and head massage deeply relaxing.


References

Boone, T., Tanner, M., & Radosevich, A. (2001). Effects of a 10-minute back rub on cardiovascular responses in healthy subjects. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 29, 47-52.

Bost, N. and Wallis, M. (2006) The effectiveness of a 15 minute weekly massage in reducing physical and psychological stress in nurses. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The, Vol. 23, No. 4, Jun-Aug: 28-33.

Cady, S. H. & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84(1), 157-158.

Delaney, J.P., Leong, K.S., Watkins, A., & Brodie, D. (2002). The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37, 364-71.

Fairweather, R. and Mari, M. S. (2016) ‘Stress and Chronic Pain Protocol’, in Massage Fusion, pp 355-369. Handspring Publishing, Edinburgh.

MacDonald, G. (1998). Massage offers respite for primary care givers. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, Jan/Feb, 43-47.

Plews-Ogan, M., Owens, J. E., Goodman, M., Wolfe, P. and Schorling, J. (2005), BRIEF REPORT: A Pilot Study Evaluating Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Massage for the Management of Chronic Pain. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20: 1136–1138. 

Shulman, K. R. & Jones, G. E. (1996) The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32, 160-173.

About the author

Claire Feldkamp

Claire Feldkamp

Claire Feldkamp MTI CNHC is a physical therapist who blends together myofascial release, massage and yoga. She works with people who suffer from chronic pain, fibromyalgia, injuries and stress, helping them to find balance in their bodies and minds. With an insatiable love for learning and studying the human body, she continues her ongoing education in anatomy, bodywork and yoga with her teachers in the UK and US. A teacher, mentor and community builder, with a focus on a functional and sustainable approach to movement, Claire teaches yoga to individuals and small groups from her studio in Bollington, Cheshire. She is known for her ability to help others understand their bodes better and develop the skill of listening intently to what it has to say.

Tel: 07719 261956
Web: www.clairefeldkamp.co.uk
Email: hallo@clairefeldkamp.co.uk