Category Archives: Stress

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

SAW 2017In recognition of April as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the connection between massage therapy and getting a good night’s sleep – every night!

“Sleep like a baby” is a misunderstood term in our language. It commonly means that one sleeps long and soundly. However, “long and soundly” is not the reality with most babies –  in reality, they wake up and cry every 3 hours!

So… do you “sleep like a baby?” Or do you sleep like the millions of adults who suffer from chronic sleep problems?

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Getting enough sleep is challenging for alarmingly large numbers of people. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 58% of adults experience at least one of the four symptoms of insomnia at least several times a week:

1. Difficulty falling asleep

2. Waking frequently

3. Waking and can’t return to sleep

4. Feeling unrested in the morning

37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with daytime alertness and activities.

While sleep neurochemistry is very complex, this article explores the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin and its relationship to massage therapy.

Serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Derived from the amino acid tryptophan, serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin quiets and resets the circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain was conducted in January 2000 by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine and Iris Burman of Miami’s Educating Hands School of Massage, and originally published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2001. It demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia. Because serotonin affects sleep in multiple areas of the brain, it is logical to seek ways to increase serotonin levels for people that are sleep-deprived. In addition, serotonin is needed for our bodies to produce melatonin. As melatonin influences the sleep stage of our circadian rhythm, a natural way of boosting serotonin is a positive sleep-inducing option. This connection calls for further research showing the direct affects massage therapy has on serotonin and sleep. Meanwhile, the existing evidence is adequate to confirm the effectiveness of regular massage therapy for sleepless patients.

Always Achy and Exhausted?

Always Achy and Exhausted?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a distinct collection of signs and symptoms that affect multiple systems in the body. It varies in severity from mildly limiting to completely debilitating. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officially named this condition in 1988, purposely keeping the name general to include all patients with the wide variety of symptoms that characterize this condition.

The central defining symptom of CFS is severe fatigue/exhaustion that is not relieved by rest. It may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, slight fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, excessive pain after mild exertion, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, and/or depression, in addition to non-restorative sleep.

In addition to the classic signs and symptoms listed above, other symptoms of CFS are prolific and may include: digestive disturbances, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, morning muscle stiffness, and others. There is much crossover between CFS, fibromyalgia, lupus and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as psychological problems relating to living with chronic pain.

Primary CFS treatment consists of making lifestyle choices that support optimum wellness and immune function: stress management, moderate dietary choices, gentle exercise and adequate sleep. Many CFS patients are hypersensitive to medications, and often find that a lower dosage is adequate.                    

Massage therapy is strongly indicated as helpful for CFS patients, in the following ways:

Pain relief

Improved sleep

Lower anxiety levels

Cleanses blood and tissues

Increases endorphin production (“happy” hormones)

Decreases cortisol production (stress hormones)

Relieves depression

Stimulates circulation when exercise may exacerbate pain.

The caring support of the therapist, combined with skilled touch, has the potential to make CFS less isolating for patients suffering from this debilitating syndrome.

Relief is in sight! Give us a call to learn more about how Massage Therapy can help relieve the uncomfortable and painful symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Pacific Massage Services: 808.885.4459.

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart!

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart!

Image result for february heart monthIn recognition of February as American Heart Month, created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease, we feature massage for cardiovascular health.

According to Heart Foundation.org, about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain.

A good massage can both calm and stimulate the nerve endings in the skin; release endorphins (happy hormones); and reduce production of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Massage helps blood circulate more efficiently, lowers blood pressure, and causes heart rate to slow down.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Research studies suggest that massage therapy can shift a patient’s nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic function. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body for action with the fight-flight-or-freeze response, when faced with a stressful situation. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter. The parasympathetic response, on the other hand, creates a relaxation response, characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and dilated blood vessels.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, including cardiac arrhythmia. This is a medical condition in which the heart pumps less effectively than normal, causing less blood to reach the brain and other vital organs. Studies have shown that consistent massage therapy can contribute to reducing the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart.

Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increase blood circulation. A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Image result for massage for heart healthMassage therapy is usually administered by a trained and licensed therapist who uses hands and fingers to manipulate the tissues of the body –muscles, tendons and skin. When performed by a trained professional, massage is generally safe, with no adverse side effects. Since massage improves the circulation, it facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. The gliding action of the massage therapist’s hands over the skin can have a calming effect on the nerves, which medical studies show can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on the heart.

For people who do not get enough physical exercise, a massage at least once a month is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. The more often and more consistently massage is received, the more it will help improve health over time.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or is a member of a massage therapy professional association, such as AMTA or ABMP.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

CALL TODAY – MASSAGE FOR A HEALTHY HEART! 808.885.4459

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In recognition of May as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the value of massage therapy to help treat and overcome chronic insomnia.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep…” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest)

Shakespeare was probably not thinking of insomnia when he wrote that line. But to millions of insomniacs, sleep is as illusive as a dream.

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Sleep does not come easily to alarmingly large numbers of people. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) “Sleep in America” Poll, 74% of adult respondents claim they experience at least one of these four symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week:

– Difficulty falling asleep

– Waking frequently during the night

– Waking and unable to return to sleep

– Waking up tired and unrefreshed

35% of respondents reported at least one of these four symptoms every night during the past year. 37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with their daytime activities and alertness.

Chronic insomnia is poor sleep every night or most nights for more than six months. This endless cycle can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being. Recurring insomnia should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or a sleep disorder specialist.

There seems to be a significant relationship between the serotonin component of sleep and its relationship to massage therapy. The crucial neurotransmitter serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin resets the part of the brain that directs circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain conducted by the Touch Research Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, soothes the nervous system and increases production of pain-killing endorphins. It can also reduce the tension from daily stresses that lead to a night of tossing and turning, as well as daytime anxiety, drowsiness and poor performance. Therapeutic massage can help with sleep disorders that have a neuromuscular origin such as pain, tension, muscle spasms and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Insomnia is common problem for hospitalized patients. Massage has been useful as an adjunct or alternative option to prescription sleep medications. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas with hospitalized critically ill elderly men concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in this population.

Restless babies and children may also benefit from a massage by sleeping more peacefully. In one study of children and adolescents, those who participated in a 30-minute massage daily for five days slept longer and more soundly.

In addition to helping an infant sleep, the “calming touch” of a parent establishes a valuable opportunity to soothe and nurture the baby. As little as 15 minutes of massage a day significantly affects infant sleep patterns with deeper sleep of longer duration.

Massage therapy is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia.

 

Exhausted and Achy All the Time?

Exhausted and Achy All the Time?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a recently recognized distinct collection of signs and symptoms that affect multiple systems in the body. It varies in severity from mildly limiting to completely debilitating. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officially named this condition in 1988, purposely keeping the name general to include all patients with the wide variety of symptoms that characterize this condition.

The central defining symptom of CFS is severe fatigue/exhaustion that is not relieved by rest. It may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, slight fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, excessive pain after mild exertion, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, depression and insomnia, in addition to non-restorative sleep.

Estimates suggest that CFS probably affects about 800,000 Americans. Statistics on CFS incidence are difficult to gather for 4 primary reasons: 1) It is under-reported, as many sufferers do not seek treatment; 2) It mimics other disorders which may occur simultaneously, making a definitive diagnosis challenging; 3) CFS is often misdiagnosed, especially by physicians who do not recognize it as a legitimate diagnosis; and 4) Disparity exists in patient demographics from different geographic areas within the U.S. Women aged 25-50 comprise the largest group of CFS patients.

While most cases appear to be non-contagious, incidents of entire communities showing CFS symptoms may indicate exceptions to this assumption. Rather than focus on any one causative factor, researchers have concluded that CFS usually results from a combination of triggers that can vary from one patient to another. A dysfunctional connection between the central nervous system and the endocrine system seems to be at the center of most CFS cases, with CFS patients typically having low cortisol levels, indicating adrenal exhaustion.

In addition to the classic signs and symptoms listed above, other symptoms are prolific and may include: digestive disturbances, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, morning muscle stiffness, and others. There is much crossover between CFS, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as psychological problems relating to living with chronic pain.

Primary CFS treatment consists of making lifestyle choices that support optimum wellness and immune function: stress management, moderate dietary choices, gentle exercise and adequate sleep. Medical intervention is sometimes helpful, but it is challenging to find the right combination of drugs, as symptoms vary patient to patient and are changeable in individual patients. Many CFS patients are hypersensitive to medications, and often find that ¼ normal dosage is adequate. For many patients, an effective combination is low-dose tricyclic anti-depressants and immune-suppressants, especially glucocortocoids used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

Massage therapy is strongly indicated as helpful for CFS patients. Massage stimulates parasympathetic response; cleanses blood and tissues; increases endorphin and decreases cortisol production; relieves depression and stimulates circulation when exercise may exacerbate pain. Studies show that CFS patients report lower levels of anxiety and better quality of sleep after receiving massage. Therapists and CFS patients report pain relief, muscle relaxation, and improved sleep. The emotional support of the therapist, combined with skilled touch, has the potential to make CFS less isolating for patients suffering from this debilitating syndrome.

Want more info on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/index.html

Mental Wellness and Massage

Mental Wellness and Massage

January is Mental Wellness Month. Did you know that massage therapy can have a significant impact on your mental health? We all worry about things in our life from time to time. But if constant worry becomes a chronic condition that interferes with your health, happiness and life, it’s time to do something about it. Help is on the way – with massage therapy!

 Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 10 million Americans suffer from GAD. Symptoms range from mild worry about everyday concerns to crippling panic about imagined catastrophic events. Other symptoms of anxiety may include: shortness of breath, insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscular tension, irritability and inability to cope. GAD can lead to physical illness, as stress and insomnia lower immune resistance, making one susceptible to illness.

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – affects many people during the colder, darker winter months. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” Massage affects brain chemistry in such a way that depression symptoms diminish and are replaced with improved mood and a feeling of well-being.

Depression. Another psychological condition that can negatively impact physical health, depression may exhibit these symptoms: headaches; insomnia; muscle tension focused in one region, such as the jaw or neck; lymphatic congestion due to lack of activity; digestive problems; tender points; hyperventilation; and cold, clammy skin, particularly on the extremities.

How can massage help with anxiety and depression? There is significant evidence that massage therapy is effective in the management of GAD and depression. Massage is one of the best antidotes for stress, because it:

– Stimulates the production of endorphins (“feel good” hormones), while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels (stress hormone).

– Calms the nervous system, induces relaxation and promotes a feeling of well-being.

– Relieves pain and increases awareness of muscle tension.

– Regulates the breath and heartbeat to the rate that occurs in sleep.

– Induces mental alertness, improves concentration and promotes restful sleep.

While massage therapy may not be a cure for anxiety and depression, it can offer relief from symptoms, and can be a crucial component in an effective treatment that integrates medication, bodywork, counseling, exercise and nutrition.

Massage Therapy Awareness Month

Massage Therapy Awareness Month

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts throughout history. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

Massage therapy has proven benefits for many medical conditions, including headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immune suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression and more. Millions of people say that massage helps them manage and relieve the everyday stress that can lead to illness. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage is effective in treating low back pain, neck pain, discomforts of pregnancy and recovery from surgery.

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

BACK AND NECK PAIN. Whether your pain is from strain, stress or injury, massage therapy relaxes muscle tension, promotes circulation, reduces swelling and speeds healing.

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face-down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall Program – Tune-Up and Tune-In with Massage! 808.443.1289.

October is Massage Therapy Month!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face-down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall program – Tune-Up and Tune-In with Massage! 808.443.1289.