Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of adults everyday. Massage therapy can help reduce the effects of anxiety and teach individuals better relaxation techniques for when an attack happens.
It is assessed that 18% (or 40 million) of adult Americans experience the ill effects of anxiety; 10% of these individuals also experience some level of depression as well. Anxiety can impede daily life, causing individuals to lose their job, be more at risk for illness, and become socially isolated.
Despite of the fact that anxiety can be effectively treated with medications, psychotherapy, or both, these treatment options are not always satisfactory or even accessible to all affected individuals. Psychotherapy isn’t accessible to all and without help from insurance it can be too costly; not to mention the social stigma attached to therapy. Other times, medication is not enough to reduce the stress anxiety causes, and sometimes seeking supplemental care is needed. And why not seek that care as a nice relaxing massage?
One of the telltale signs of a panic attack is constricted breathing. It can be difficult for individuals suffering from anxiety to reach a relaxed state and breathing at a natural pace once their body starts to take shallow short breaths. Commonly, the muscles around the rib cage and abdomen have settled into a tightener position than normal.
How Massage Therapy Can Help
Many of the muscles in the upper body are accessory respiratory muscles, and when any of these muscles are chronically tight and shortened (with anxiety, for example), they can restrict normal breathing and disrupt healthy breathing patterns. Massage techniques lengthen and relax these muscles back into their natural, proper position, which improves an individual’s breathing capacity and function.
Massages also teaches the individual how to improve their breathing (deep breaths are common during a massage), and the body how to relax. Massage therapy can also improve one’s posture, which can lead to opening the chest area, correcting the spinal alignment, and positioning of the rib cage – all of which is needed for optimal respiratory function.
Massage therapy also has an effect on your parasympathetic nervous system, causing your breathing rate to slow, and become deeper. This type of breathing is optimal for bringing oxygen into your body and can make the mind feel more relaxed.
During a regular massage (our Relaxation Massage), a Swedish technique is used called tapotement, which is a rhythmic, percussive stroke. This type of stroke, when performed on the back, the vibration and shaking it causes can loosen mucus in the lungs and clear the airway for better lung function.
An additional benefit of a regular massage is retraining your mind to recognize what a true relaxed state is. Typically, with anxiety, an individual walks around in a constant state of stress, even if they don’t realize it. Massage therapy helps to relax your muscles, improve your breathing and posture, and calms your mind. When the body can recognize what true relaxation should feel like, the mind is capable of creating a relaxed state to combat stressors before it becomes damaging.