2 Your Health: Anxiety and Fatigue? You May Need a Swedish Massage

Heidi Overman, Licensed Massage Therapist, #MT-24997

Most people like to really “feel the work” when getting a massage. We like to feel that “hurt so good” when muscles release. However, there are many reasons to switch it up to a relaxing Swedish type massage.

Our bodies are tuned in to perceived danger. We call it fight or flight. We all have it, hidden within our sympathetic nervous systems. It stimulates adrenaline and keeps us alert and on edge. There are many external and internal “triggers,” such as acute stress and trauma for this response. When the threat passes, cortisol levels fall. The parasympathetic nervous system or the “brake” then dampens the stress response. Many people are unable to find a way to put the brakes on stress. Massage can help in many ways.

Many stresses have bombarded our minds and bodies these past few years. Our defenses are constantly up, and fatigue has set in. We find ourselves lashing out and can’t figure out why. This is our sympathetic nervous system trying to protect us. It is not a healthy way to live, and we need to turn off that sympathetic nervous system and turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, which tells us everything is OK.

Anxiety and fatigue are signs that your sympathetic nervous system is in control and needs to turn off.

Another example: A client tells me that he doesn’t like massage because it always hurts. He doesn’t like being touched and it’s uncomfortable, however, he’s in pain and he needs a massage, so he’s willing to endure it to help his muscle pain.

The solution: When he gets on the table, I can feel his sympathetic nervous system is active. He isn’t aware of it, because it feels “normal” to him. I ask if he has had any extreme mental or physical trauma or prolonged extreme stress in his life. “Yes” is the answer. His nervous system has been “armoring,” and it’s taking a toll on his physical body. Now, switching plans is important. Changing to a lighter touch, I can start to “switch off” the sympathetic nervous system and engage the parasympathetic nervous system. With a few lighter and longer sessions, we can start to get into the real muscle work and his body accepts it.

Sometimes, as a massage therapist, we must assess which issue we need to address first. Often, we need to start with lighter, slower work to teach the body how to relax and accept touch, which then allows us to start doing the deeper muscle work in later sessions.

These issues are rarely helped in one session. A discussion and plan should be put into place as a guideline.

Lighter massage and energy work definitely has its important purposes in engaging the parasympathetic nervous system and regaining homeostasis or balance in the body. Swedish or energy massage can help bolster your immune system, lymphatic system, and nervous system by allowing the body and mind to relax and be “OK.” It sounds simple, but our bodies hold on to trauma, even from a young age, and many times it will only start letting go with massage.

If you are interested in a Swedish or therapeutic massage, please call Heidi Overman for an appointment: 520-771-154. My website is: www.mymendingplace.com and I’m located at MEND Therapeutic Massage and Wellness, 15920 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. 170, Tucson, AZ 85739 (next to the Golden Goose).