Massage Therapy and Stress

by Rebecca Huber

Practitioners of massage therapy view stress as a condition of dis-ease in the body. The dis-ease of stress is a state of disharmony or an imbalance in one or more systems of the body. In spite of the fact that many clients may not recognize stress for what it is, they usually will experience the symptoms of stress. Those symptoms can be wide and varied. Some of the more common symptoms are elevated blood pressure, increased pulse rate, anxiety, anger, inability to focus, fatigue, insomnia and many more. Of course, there may be an underlying cause to your symptoms, but an inability to deal with stress can and will greatly enhance your symptoms.

As pressure mounts, the background level of stress hormones in your bloodstream can become elevated to the point that very little is needed to trigger the stress response. You may find yourself in a constant state of agitation, reacting not only to actual events but to anticipated events and memories. If fact, with energy so depleted, you may come to rely on a stress-induced jolt of adrenaline just to get through the day.

The traditional medicine views stress mostly from a physiological and biological perspective­­ or what's commonly known as the medical model of disease. By focusing on the organic medical model of disease, the treatment then tends to focus on prescription drugs and medications to decrease the level of stress. Antidepressant and antianxiety medications being their first choice. This is not to say drugs don't work, they do­­ and the symptoms of stress are relieved but without a look at the underlying psychological or emotional disturbances and individual may continue to behave in a stress-based coping manner to a situation, object or person in his or her environment. Won't it be wonderful if medications intended to reduce stress and anxiety came with another prescription for counseling, therapeutic massage or biofeedback and this person could only have the medication if it were proven that the other half of the prescription were filled?

I truly wish everyone could receive massage. It has changed my life and, mostly importantly, my levels of stress. Regular and consistent massage treatments significantly reduce the high levels of maladaptive stress and its symptoms. The touch in itself is relaxing and therapeutic. Body massage has been recognized as a way to decrease feelings of tension, tiredness and fatigue.

Of course, there are many ways to reduce stress; these include an improved diet, more rest, improved self-esteem to name a few. Stress reduction and the better health it leads to usually comes by utilizing an eclectic approach with more than one therapy. My advice to my clients is to work with as many modalities as you want and do what makes you most comfortable.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online March 27, 1997
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