What is holistic massage?
'Holistic massage is an individual treatment that is specifically tailored to each client. A holistic practitioner treats the client as a whole, taking into account their emotional and spiritual well-being, as well as their physical body.'
Massage Training Institute
What conditions may benefit from massage?
Anxiety and depression
ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Pain, including muscle tension, back, shoulder and neck pain
Repetitive strain injuries
How does it work?
Muscles can hardened due to overuse, stress or lack of use and they are then less efficient at making the minute squeezing movements required to remove waste and circulate blood. It’s been shown that massage can soften these tight muscles leaving them in a more relaxed state, therefore improving the blood and lymph flow. In addition to tight muscles, if your condition means you can't exercise, then your joints might be affected. Without exercise the production of synovial fluid, which helps lubricate joints, is decreased, which can lead to painful movement. A particular type of massage known as passive joint mobilisation can help by gently moving the joint and increasing the production of synovial fluid. If you feel your muscles ache from constantly being held too tightly or your joints ache from under or over use then massage might help you.
Chronic stress might be the reason your muscles are feeling tight and painful, but stress can also have other effects on the body. Chronic stress is caused when your body responds to internal or external stressors by activating its sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight response. When our bodies remain in a stressed state for a prolonged period of time not only do our muscles forget how to relax but our digestion can be disrupted and our immune system weakened. This is because activity in both these systems is reduced when we're in fight or flight mode. Once the immune system is no longer firing on all cylinders then we lose our ability to fight off illness. Massage has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the rest and digest response. If the sensation of touch is perceived as relaxing to you then gentle massage can trigger a lowering of heart rate, a slowing of breathing, increased digestive activity and a return of immune response activity.
Finally, gentle massage can disrupt our pain network. There are two nerve pathways inside our spinal cord, one responds quickly to more superficial pressure and the other responds more slowly to deeper pressure and pain. Sensations created by light massage will reach the brain more quickly than sensations of deep-seated pain. This means that during the massage these pleasanter sensations can inhibit the awareness of deep-seated pain.