How Massage can help with stress


Massage can help relieve stress and feel restful.Nowadays we all recognise that stress plays a part in our lives – for many of us on a daily basis.  In every situation and environment we find ourselves, we are continually assessing whether we are safe or in danger.

If we feel we are safe, a hormone is released to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). This part of the nervous system promotes peace, rest, relaxation and repair.  The PNS allows the immune, digestive, urinary, systems to function without interruption.  We experience the sensation of feeling calm, and engaged in restful activities.

In contrast, when we assess ourselves to be in danger all these systems are interrupted by the release of adrenaline and cortisol (hormones).  These hormones activate the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) to focus all our energy to get ourselves to safety.

It’s all about survival

Fundamentally, it is all about survival. The actions of the SNS are designed to facilitate a physical response to an external event.  However, our body does not know the difference between running away from a predator, being annoyed by colleagues at work, or feeling under appreciated at home. The same reaction is set into motion: adrenaline and cortisol are released into our bloodstream.

Fight or flight

Cortisol acts as an anti-inflammatory and has a powerful anti-allergenic action.  Our muscles are pumped full of blood (with glucose taken from storage) ready to run from the danger or fight it. The experience fills us with panic, stress, or irritability.  We may also feel nauseous.

Repeated episodes of stress cause a sustained level of adrenaline and cortisol to circulate in our bloodstream.  The presence of these hormones excludes the possibility of our body returning to PNS activity.

This can upset the balance of many of our body processes: Sustained suppression of our immune system; an increased heart rate and high blood pressure; contracted skeletal muscles become tense and sore; digestion remains suppressed.

If this state of chronic stress is left to continue it can result in illness, disease and exhaustion.


Having a massage can help alleviate the impact stress is having on you and your life. .Massage has the potential to activate the PNS, switching off the adrenalin-fuelled activities and allowing your body to return to a state where it can look after itself (rest and repair).  This is why most people find massage relaxing.

Therefore we should not see massage as just about being “pampered” or a “treat”. Receiving therapeutic touch may allow you to be in this restful cycle, where your systems can function without disruption. Contracted muscles may be smoothed out and lengthened, giving you relief from pain or discomfort. This in turn may all help to prevent illness, and the really good bit? You feel great!


If you would like to know how massage might help you, please contact me >

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