1. Relaxation:

Higher anxiety levels tend to lower pain thresholds. Or, said differently, the more stressed out you are the more intense your pain might feel to you. Lowering your stress levels can mitigate (perceived) pain. Massage is a powerful tool that uses mindful touch to soothe the fight or flight branch of your nervous system and helps stimulate its counterpart: the rest and restore branch. In a relaxed state, we sleep better, heal faster, and usually report a decrease in pain symptoms.

2. Reduce Muscle Soreness:

Regular tissue work can help reduce muscle soreness. DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is what most people experience 24-48 hours after a challenging workout or physical activity. Massage promotes fluid exchange in tissue which helps your muscles exchange nutrients for toxins and how oxygen gets into your tissue cells. Getting bodywork after vigorous activity can help you recover faster and feel less sore.

3. Increased Proprioception: 

Your skin is your largest organ. As embryos, our brain and skin evolve from the same cells and can be considered continuations of each other. You can think of your skin as your brain turned inside out and your brain as your skin turned outside in. Input to your skin, e.g. through massage, stimulates your brain. More specifically, your brain has a map of every part of your body so input to each region of skin can increase your brain’s awareness of that region. The more aware your brain is of your body, the better it can judge where you are in space and where your body parts are relative to each other. This is pivotal for movement coordination and even injury prevention.

 4. Scar work:

scars are a result of reflexive (unconscious) tissue healing. They are a result of your nervous system’s response to tissue damage. Whether from an injury or a surgery, scar tissue heals wounds and serves its purpose. However, scar tissue fibers, unlike “normal” tissue, are disorganized. This creates two problems. On one hand, this tissue cannot function as well as undamaged tissue and does not yield to stretch or compression which is necessary for your muscles (and its connective tissue) to function efficiently. Secondly, this disorganized tissue provides a more blurry picture in your brain map. (see above bullet point). This makes it so that your brain cannot activate that area as well or as quickly as other muscular regions. Concerted and frequent scar tissue (especially when started soon after an injury or surgery) work can help dampen this effect and maintain good tissue health.

5. Increased Range of motion: 

Massage promotes blood flow to muscle tissues. This increase in circulation alone can allow you to move further at joints like hips and shoulders. (Pain Free) Massage also positively affects your brain’s awareness of your tissue which essentially makes you feel safe. Your brain is always unconsciously scanning for threat. If you have ever been startled you know what it feels like when your muscles reflexively get stiff. Similarly, stress and anxiety can contribute to “stiffness” on an unconscious level. Massage can help bring on a state of calm which can often help you move more freely.

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