Massage to Reduce Stress

Massage to Reduce Stress

by Laura G., LMP

massage helps to reduce stress massage seattle massage redmond dreamclinicWe all know what causes stress and we all know that stress is bad for you. What is less well-known is exactly how stress affects your body and how massage reverses the physiological effects of stress.

Our bodies have a complex reaction to stress. A “fight or flight” reaction of the sympathetic nervous system gears the body for heavy physical exertion. Blood pressure increases and cholesterol is released into the bloodstream. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow and heart rate increases.  Muscles tense and blood rushes to the extremities to prepare them for action.

In our modern lifestyle, however, the stress response is also triggered by daily activities like sitting at the computer for long hours or simply waiting in traffic. These sedentary activities don’t release stress. Stress remains in our bodies causing muscle tightness, high blood pressure, and a sense of fatigue. Over the long-term muscles and blood vessels become less elastic, arteries develop cholesterol plaques, digestion becomes sluggish, and sleep doesn’t feel refreshing. We find it difficult to ever fully relax even after exercise.

Calming strokes send a message to the nervous system that the body is safe. Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal. Breathing slows and deepens and digestion increases.  Deep muscle strokes relax constricted muscle fibers and open blood vessels. As a full body treatment returns muscles to a healthy tonus, the chest and abdomen soften and relax and the shoulders lower. The internal organs have more room to operate and receive better blood supply. As the energy held in tense muscles is released, one feels more energetic and exercise is more enjoyable. The deep relaxation achieved with a full body massage allows one to rest comfortably and sleep becomes more rejuvenating.

Massage acts as a natural bio-feedback mechanism. With regular massage, our bodies learn how to return to the “rest and digest” state with more ease. We are less likely to get stuck in the “flight or flight” stress reaction. Hence, we actually learn to deal better with stress on a physiological level.  Regular massage to reduce stress is an excellent method for combating the effects of stress and enhancing one’s health. Reducing one’s stress response feels good at the time and feels even better the next day. Not only does massage feel fantastic, it is also fantastic for your health!

This article has been brought to you by Dreamclinic – offering quality therapeutic massage and acupuncture in the greater Seattle area as well as corporate massage nationwide.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience the Dreamclinic difference.

Research Identifies the Ideal Frequency of Massage for Treating Chronic Neck Pain

ghri_logoDreamclinic massage therapist Michael Jacobus recently took part in a research study to determine the ideal frequency of massage for treating chronic neck pain. The study, designed and conducted by Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, utilized massage as a treatment for nonspecific neck pain (neck pain not related to a specific incident or injury). Jacobus was one of the massage therapists selected to administer the Group Health study.
The research study participants were divided into groups that each received a different frequency and duration of massage treatment over a 4-week span. The researchers measured neck-related pain and dysfunction both before and after the treatment period.

Their conclusion? The optimal dose and frequency for achieving meaningful improvement in chronic neck pain is 60 minutes of massage, 2-3 times per week. The researchers found that “multiple 60-minute massages per week [were] more effective than fewer or shorter sessions for individuals with chronic neck pain.”
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Jacobus shared, “I loved working on the [Group Health] research project. My hope is that the results of this study will direct future massage research. The more this data can be replicated, the more relevance it has to further validate massage as an effective treatment for chronic neck pain.”
To read the study abstract, visit

Michael Jacobus has been practicing massage since 1996. He has instructed in top massage schools in the Pacific Northwest and continues to teach kinesiology and muscle anatomy to massage & yoga students and professionals. You can find Michael at Dreamclinic’s Queen Anne Location located in the MarQueen Hotel in Seattle.