The Links Between Mental Health & Sports Massage
Posted on 20th October 2021
Over the years massage therapy has been increasingly recognised as an effective way to help alleviate depression and anxiety whilst improving sleep quality and promoting a positive overall balance between the body and the mind.
Modern life brings us many stresses in a variety of different forms, from family issues, financial strain, troubles at work, and general unhappiness. The unprecedented global worries over the last 18 months or so have also caused havoc within our day to day lives and the uncertainty of what’s next has affected our mental health in one way or another.
When the mind is overloaded with emotion it can begin to affect the body physically, causing a build-up of tension, fatigue, muscle pains, cramp, joint pain, inflammation, and headaches.
How Can Massage Help?
Our mind functions with the help of four critical hormones; Dopamine, the happy hormone, Serotonin, the calming hormone, Cortisol, the stress hormone and Adrenaline, the flight or fight hormone. When we’re experiencing high levels of stress and emotion, our cortisol levels elevate resulting in pain, disruption of sleep and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Massage therapy is the perfect time to relax, offload your stresses and to create space in the mind and body to be able to experience the moment. Making time for yourself each day is incredibly important, whether that be a 10-minute walk, a relaxing bath or shower or just sitting in the garden alone, these activities encourage your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in which allows for your body and mind to unwind.
One of the best ways to relax and make time for yourself is through massage.
Massage releases muscle tension, lowers your heart and respiratory rate, allows you to relax and encourages the reduction of Cortisol, the stress hormone, whilst increasing the levels of happy hormone, Serotonin.
Can Sports Massage Really Be Relaxing?
Yes! Sports massage isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind when you’re seeking relaxation, however, it has such a positive impact on the muscle tissue and can give successful results. Sports massage doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. The old school idea of a sports massage being hard and intense often puts people off. Sports massage can be adapted using a combination of long slow massage strokes and working into the myofascial and deeper layers of tissue whilst being highly effective at resolving any underlying or current muscular issues you may have.
What Are the Benefits of Relaxing Your Mind?
Relaxing your mind has major psychological benefits including:
• Reducing the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.
• Improving patterns
• Better quality sleep
• Promoting positive body awareness and a body and mind connection
• Releasing endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine to reduce the feelings of low mood and depression
• Fostering a feeling of wellbeing
What Are the Benefits of Relaxing Your Muscles?
During massage the tension in the muscles is released, especially around the back, neck and shoulders. Releasing tension in the muscles helps to:
• Improve blood circulation
• Lower your blood pressure
• Relieve overall muscle fatigue, soreness and stiffness
• Relieve tension headaches
• Boost your immune system
• Improve skin and muscle tone
FEMA’S Approach to Teaching Sports Massage for Mental Health
Our approach is to teach our students deep tissue massage, which is to keep movement flowing and at a slow pace, causing the body to relax. The focus is completely on releasing tension in the body and allowing the mind to switch off during the treatment. Students learn that clients often like to remain silent to avoid distraction and often fall asleep.
Once our students are qualified as Level 3 Sports Massage Therapists, we introduce them to clients who choose massage to help with mental health or to reduce stress. This approach helps to get the best results for our clients. One of the biggest challenges of using massage for those with mental health issues is encouraging them to be comfortable with discussing their troubles with the therapist. If clients are struggling with more serious mental health problems, then we can advise they get help from a professional health care professional through referral.
As therapists we are here to help, listen and make people feel comfortable whilst in our care. Helping clients with mental and physical health issues is very rewarding and a big factor in why people choose to enrol on our course. It’s not every day that you get to make a difference at work.
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