Massage And Anxiety

stressFirstly I would like to state that Melbourne Natural Therapies do not recommend that any form of massage be the sole form of treatment for anxiety disorders. Massage can however be a very powerful addition to a sufferer’s treatment strategy. Read on to find out why.

Massage And Anxiety

Anxiety seems to be a really common problem. Australian statistics show that 9.7% – 14% of Australian adults are affected by anxiety disorders in any 12-month period. There are many different forms as well as triggers that start it. The severity can range from mild (with the sufferer sometimes unaware they have it) right through to life threatening (where the individual is barely able to function).

Aside from the mental and emotional side of anxiety, sufferers often experience physical issues as well. The most common cause of muscle discomfort from anxiety is muscle tension. Mental and muscular tension occurs simultaneously; in a stressful or anxious situation the muscle is shortened or contracted and this can lead to dull and/or sharp pains. Heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol may also increase your sensitivity to pain.

Anxiety may also change the way the person sits and stands and how often they stretch and exercise. It’s not uncommon for those with anxiety to be fidgety or move quite differently from the way they normally would, as a result slouching, having ticks or repetitive movements. The strain from these actions may lead to more muscle tension, which in turn can cause muscle pain.

Many people suffering from anxiety also exercise less, eat and sleep poorly and are often improperly hydrated. All of these things can cause physical symptoms and as a result exacerbate the anxiety creating a vicious cycle.

So Where Does Massage Come In?

Obviously massage has the ability to make people feel more relaxed, but the research suggests much more than that.

Lenita Lindgren at UMEA University in Sweden conducted a study where she measured blood pressure, glucose and insulin levels before, during and after massage, as part of her PhD research. She also documented how the subjects felt after the massage session.

In addition to the improvements reported by study participants, Lindgren found that tactile massage reduced anxiety among the patients and also reduced stress. Her research showed a decrease in blood pressure and participants found it easier to breathe. Interestingly skin contact seemed to be one of the most important parts of the treatment as the massage was found to have less effect when the therapist wore gloves.

Massage was found to activate an area in the brain called the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. This area is linked to sensations of happiness and enjoyment, according to UMEA University. Touch is now believed to be important in many other medical situations, from premature babies to patients recovering from surgeries.

If you would like to add massage to your treatment regime we would first recommend visiting your GP before booking in for treatment. In addition to massage therapy, the doctor may suggest certain medications, psychotherapy or counselling, or even herbal remedies. Melbourne Natural Therapies recommend Southgate Medical Centre; you can visit their site here.

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