Massage Therapy in Central Bristol

How Massage Can Help Stop Chronic Stress

In this blog, I’ve written about how regular massage treatments can help stop stress before it becomes long-term and chronic.

What is Chronic Stress?

Life can be so stressful and demanding with its deadlines and responsibilities. Relationships can also make us feel emotionally stressed.

Chronic stress is when you’ve been feeling stressed for a while and is long-term.

In the short-term the stress response in our body is crucial as it mobilises it’s fuel resources in order to prepare us for the strenuous efforts required by fighting or running away.

Chronic stress isn’t good for you though and as well as helping to cause an array of physical health problems such as cardiovascular and autoimmune deseases, it can cause long term tension and pain in our muscles.

The good news is that there is lots of ways to help stop stress as getting to the chronic stage as scientific research tells us and receiving a regular massage is one of them. Other alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation can help too.

So, how can massage help us to feel great?

 

Well, let’s start with what happens when we feel ‘stressed’ and not great!

 

The stress response in our body responds to emotional/physical stressful states and then it coordinates a response known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. We can think of this response like when we see a threat (such as a lion) and our body goes into a state of acute stress and panic. Our body reacts in many ways because of this and one thing it does is release stress hormones such as Adrenaline and Cortisol.

 

Chronic stress can cause us to feel in a constant ‘fight or flight’ state but massage can help to reverse these physical effects.

 

The Limbic System is situated between our spinal cord and the Cortex in our brain and it links our emotional psyche to our physical state and physiological processes. It sorts out and reorganises the somatic (physical) expression of states such as anxiety, anger, depression, arousal and states of relaxation and emotional wellbeing.

 

During a massage session, the proprioceptors and other sensory modulators in our body communicate to the brain that the touch is pleasurable. The message then goes up through our spinal cord, into our brain and to the Limbic system and the Limbic system then decides that the touch is pleasurable and then communicates this message back to the body.

 

We can manipulate the decisions the Limbic system makes through massage and touch.

 

The psychophysiological response from the Limbic system is transmitted back to the body along three principal pathways:

 

The Motor pathway is the pathway which causes our muscles to increase or decrease in tone and tense up or relax, depending on whether we are aroused and stressed or relaxed and happy. In this case, the muscle tone would decrease and become less tense as we would be feeling good.

 

The Neuroendocrine and Autonomic pathways is when massage can cause our blood pressure to decrease, lower our heart rate and decrease levels of cortisol and increases levels of dopamine (dopamine increases concentration, memory, and general happiness).

 

Therefore receiving a massage can help us to feel more relaxed and most importantly, help us to stop feeling stressed so that it doesn’t become chronic. And even if you are suffering from chronic stress, massage can help get you on the path to recovery!

 

Below is an article with some useful advice and tips on ways that you can help to combat stress and relax on your own too:

Self Care Quotes: 15 Quotes To Inspire You

 

 

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Valentine’s Gift – Treat your loved one to a couples massage!

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Be Complete Massage is teaming up with Holistic Cocoon this Valentines day to offer you a couple’s massage from the luxurious surroundings of The Practice Rooms in Clifton and Cotham!

Is your lover, friend or family member in need of a massage to relieve aching muscles, pain and/or psychological stress?

This is a great chance to help them, treat your loved one and also benefit from it yourself at the same time!

Please click on this link to get this offer before it runs out!

 

 

So, why choose to have a couple’s massage?

 

Well, why not?! Why wouldn’t you want to share the wonderful experience of receiving a relaxing and indulging massage treatment with someone special?

During and after the treatment you will probably be in the same mindset as your loved one and therefore feel more connected with them too.

Life can get very busy and stressful and sometimes we don’t have enough time to spend with the people we care about, so as well as getting to spend quality time with them you can also experience a treatment that can not only be blissful and relaxing, but it can change your life for the better as there have been studies conducted to say that massage therapy can help relieve many health conditions.

You are therefore giving someone an amazing gift if you get this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Weak Buttock Muscles Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Did you know that a lot of uncomfortable and painful conditions are caused because the muscles in your bum/buttocks are not being used, or if they are, they are not being used properly?

The proper term for this group of muscles is the ‘Gluteal muscles’ and because they are in the centre of your body they are like the glue to stick the top half of your body onto your bottom half and vice versa and so its vital that these muscles are in good working order.

The Gluteus Maximus muscles are gigantic muscles (as is highlighted on the right in the top photo) and the action of these muscles is to extend and laterally rotate the hips.

For instance, the Gluteus Maximus is in action when a footballer is about the kick a football and they are moving their leg backwards in preparation for this.

Studies have shown that they also play a massive role in stabilising the important Sacroilliac joints while going through the gait cycle (for instance when walking or running).

John Gibbons the renowned Osteopath and Remedial and Sports Massage Therapist wrote a whole book on this subject!

The Sacroilliac joints are the big joints on the hips and when they are not functioning properly, they can cause lower back pain. There has been positive tests to prove this.

About 98% of my clients have Glute muscles which are weak, underused and aren’t firing properly when they first come to see me.

When a client comes in with low back pain, Sports and Remedial Massage Therapists can do a postural assessment and some tests to find out if the Gluteal muscles are weak, and in my experience, I’ve rarely had a client who hasn’t got weak Gluteal muscles. That also goes for extremely fit people.

We can then help to get the muscles functioning in the way they should be through techniques applied in the session and by giving clients practical advice such as stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done in their own time after the treatment.

So, why are Gluteal Muscles often Weak?

 

The muscles that do the opposite action from the glutes (the antagonistic muscles) are often tight to compensate for the weakness in the glutes.

There are a few reasons for this dysfunction and one reason is because muscles work in pairs and when one muscle is working, the opposing (antagonistic) muscle isn’t.

Some muscles naturally fire more easily then others and therefore it’s important to work at strengthening the muscles (such as the glutes) that don’t fire so easily.

Another reason why we can have weak gluteals is because of lack of movement, poor posture and sitting down for long periods of time. I will explain this in a bit more detail later on.

Tonic (Postural) and Phasic Muscles

 

The neuromuscular system is made up of ‘slow-twitch’ and ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibres with some muscles containing more ‘fast-twitch’ fibres and some having more ‘slow-twitch’.  Slow-twitch fibres are made for sustained low-level activity and fast-twitch fibres are for powerful, gross movements.

The Gluteal muscles contain more fast-twitch fibres and its opposing antagonistic muscles contain more slow-twitch fibres. The Gluteal muscles therefore need to be used more but it is often the opposing muscles that get over worked and that goes for a lot of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle types.

The reason behind this is partly thought to be because muscles are also split into being ‘tonic’ (postural) muscles and ‘phasic’ muscles. The Glute muscles are phasic muscles and their antagonistic muscles are postural.

Postural muscles are involved in the maintenance of our posture and are innervated by a smaller motor neuron. They therefore have a lower excitability threshold, which means the nerve impulse will reach the postural muscles before the phasic muscles. With this sequence of innervation, the postural muscles will inhibit the phasic muscles which will reduce the phasic muscles potential for activation.

For example, this is why muscles in your neck, calves and upper back (upper trapezius muscle) are commonly sore and tight, as they are predominately classed as Tonic (postural) muscles.

So, what Muscles are Antagonistic to the Glutes?

 

The muscles that do the opposite action of the Gluteal muscles are the hip flexors. These are often painful, tight and overused on people.

One of the most important hip flexor muscles, if not the most important in my opinion is the ‘Psoas Major’.

These muscles are attached to a lot of bony landmarks and that’s partly why they are important muscles because they are relied on a great deal for movement and strength. They can be difficult to locate but fully qualified Sports and Remedial Massage Therapists will be able to locate them.

The Psoas Major is activated also when we are sitting down and so when we sit down for long periods of time these muscles can become tight and sore and this can therefore cause the glute muscles to become weak which can cause us to experience low back pain.

 How would you Know if it’s a Muscle Imbalance that’s Causing your Back Pain and Not Something Else?

 

Sports and Remedial Massage therapists will be able to help you to find out what the cause of your pain is. We will conduct a thorough case history and then do tests and a physical assessment if need be.

One of the questions we will ask you is what does the pain feel like for you in order to try and determine the cause. For instance if the pain is to do with soft tissue (muscle) you would most likely be experiencing a dull ache and the pain would be worse on movement.

If the pain is to do with a nerve you would feel a sensation like pins and needles and maybe numbness and weakness.

If you do have nerve pain symptoms we will refer you to your GP or to another professional to get it diagnosed and assessed. But if you have soft tissue or muscle pain as well then we usually are able to carry on with the treatment with caution.

We will ascertain if we can proceed with the treatment after we have undertaken a through assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How can massage help with stress?

Massage can help not just relieve overworked and ‘stressed’ muscles but it can also help with psychological stress too!

You may feel pain in your muscles when your feeling emotionally or psychologically stressed, as your mind and body are connected and this is when it’s time to slow down and make time to relax because you may have been over doing it.

Massage can help relax your mind and body as a massage is often a very enjoyable and relaxing experience and can also help get the muscles return back to their original relaxed state by lengthening them or simply by releasing the toxins and getting the blood flowing again.

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