Fight or Flight vs Rest & Digest

Everyone should consider massage therapy as part of their lifestyle routine. It is the perfect way to include stress relief in your day-to-day life. Massage Therapy is used to help manage a health condition or enhance both your physical & emotional wellness. It involves the manipulation of the soft tissues in the body through the use of either light or deeper strokes to encourage relaxation.


Alongside other integrated health approaches, massage is considered one of the leading options to effectively manage stress as it is known to have both physiological and emotional responses. An emotional response to a relaxing massage is the feeling of relaxation and a sense of calmness.


Figures show that nearly 60-90% of all doctors' visits are stress related; a worrying statistic! Massage is an effective treatment to help reduce stress which plays a vital role in both your physical and emotional response in the body. Stress can affect the way you feel, think and how your body works.


Stress is caused by an increase of stress hormones in the body including adrenaline and cortisol. When stress levels are high both physically and mentally, relaxation is prevented. Muscles become tense meaning they stay in the state of contraction, and the pain created by tension can cause stress and frustration. A massage aims to relieve muscle tension through friction that is created between the therapist’s hands and a patient’s skin during a massage, encouraging the increase of blood flow.


Increasing blood flow results in the muscle temperature rising. Tissue elasticity increases when temperature rises, encouraging muscle relaxation. Relaxation of muscles allows mental relaxation to also increase due to an increase in movement and decrease in pain. When stress overwhelms your nervous system, your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for ‘fight-or-flight'. As humans, we are constantly in fight-or-flight mode. Overtime, prolonged exposure within this mode can lead to a negative response on the individual’s immune system, resulting in fatigue and burn out and increased risk of numerous health problems including:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Heart Disease

  • Headaches

  • Weight gain

Massage brings you out of the fight-or-flight mode and into the rest-and-digest mode for 30 minutes or an hour, once a month, twice a month or however frequent you get a massage. During a massage, you get to lay down and be still; that in itself can encourage relaxation.


During the relaxation response, the body moves toward a state of physiological relaxation, where blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning, and hormonal levels return to normal levels. In addition to its calming physical effects and restoration of risks associated with stress, hypertension, anxiety and insomnia, the relaxation response encourages the increase of psychological issues including heightening problem-solving abilities, boosts motivation and improves productivity.


Without making a personal commitment to your wellness, it’s difficult to eliminate stress. Massage therapy has proven clinical outcomes on the reduction of individual pain levels, stress levels and increase range of movement to improve day to day lifestyle.


As a massage client, it is highly unlikely you would say ‘I want to increase blood circulation’. Instead, what you are more likely to say is, “I want to be able to pick up my grandchildren” or “I want to be able to walk with limited pain”.


These larger clinical outcomes of stress relief, pain relief, improved sleep patterns and general well-being are what most of us are looking for.


Make it a priority to get your massage therapy regularly!


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