Stress, the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism, is supposed to be a shield to protect the body from danger. When it occurs in the short term – such as making a presentation to work colleagues or spilling coffee on your white shirt – there is an end in sight. Sometimes, though, stress relief doesn’t come, and the stress becomes a contributor to a plethora of aches, pains and illnesses.
How do you relieve pain and heal from stress? Obviously, eliminating the stressor would be the first step, but it isn’t always possible if the condition is chronic. Sadly, stress rates are going up in the United States. The American Psychological Association (APA) says levels climbed from 4.9 to 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10 in 2015, primarily due to job and money concerns.
Even though chronic stress is on the rise, stress relief is possible. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) says research validates what many already know: massage therapy can relieve pain and heal symptoms brought on by stress. Before learning how massage therapy can help, it’s essential to know what causes stress and how the body reacts to its triggers.
What is stress?
When you feel overcome with work or responsibilities and are struggling to cope with having too much on your plate, you are stressed. As mentioned earlier, it’s also the body’s protective response to danger. The problem comes when stress is too easily triggered or if there are too many stressors. That can undermine health and create all sorts of problems.
What are some common stress triggers?
The list of what can create stress is long, but it isn’t always the same for everyone. Some are short-term stressors, such as being stuck in traffic, moving to a new house, anticipating an important exam or a meeting at work, or scraping your knee. Stress that doesn’t go away because of issues like job worries, personal relationship problems, lack of time, financial concerns, bereavement, chronic illness, parenthood, poor living conditions, noisy neighbors or not knowing how something will turn out can lead to chronic disease or worsen symptoms.
What are the symptoms of stress?
We’ve all felt them. Physical symptoms may include:
• Muscle aches and spasms
• Upset stomach
• Sleeping issues
• Feeling of pins and needles
Then there are also psychological symptoms, such as:
What happens to your body under stress?
When your body senses stress, you may begin to sweat profusely. Your blood pressure and pulse rise – sometimes making you think your heart will jump out of your chest – and your breathing accelerates. Your muscles can tense or spasm. To conserve energy, your body suppresses digestion, slowing it. Your immune system is sometimes compromised, increasing the risk of colds, flu and more illnesses.
How massage therapy can help relieve stress
Think about a time when you’ve been really stressed. You had a rough day at school or work, and you’re so on edge that you can’t relax. Your boyfriend or your wife rubs your shoulders for a few minutes, and you go limp like jelly. All you can think of is how that touch is hitting the spot. Imagine how good that would feel if a trained massage therapist – equipped to know just where to put pressure – could hit those trigger points, relax your muscles and distract your thoughts. When a massage therapist uses his or her hands, elbows or feet to administer a treatment, you immediately relax, calming both your mind and body. The type of massage used (Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology or trigger point) depends on what hurts, but all can help relieve pain and heal symptoms.
How to improve your health with massage therapy
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress can directly lead to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung problems, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. When stress levels subside, it follows that better health results. Massage therapy can reduce stress and, therefore, benefit health and wellness by producing a sense of relaxation and tranquility. A trained massage therapist can help you relieve pain and heal the symptoms of stress.
How does one become a massage therapist?
If you begin a massage therapy program at Florida Academy in Fort Myers, you can train to be a massage therapist in as few as 30 weeks. The comprehensive curriculum (with the flexibility of day and evening classes) prepares you to earn your massage therapy license, which qualifies you for a position in a clinic, chiropractic office, spa, hotel, fitness center, sports medicine facility, cancer treatment location and more.
Florida Academy offers flexible day and evening classes, as well as a part-time program that lets you balance the responsibilities of work and family. Choose a 600-hour massage therapy program to learn the basics needed to start your career, with hands-on training that teaches you to administer Swedish massage. If you prefer, the 900-hour (eight-month) innovative and biologically based therapies program includes the coursework for the other program plus additional practice in using medical devices for massage therapy and an introduction to related therapies you may encounter in the workplace, such as:
• Chiropractic assisting electrical stimulation
• Medical massage
• Neuromuscular massage
• Chinese medicine
If you’re looking for an in-demand career, consider registering for the massage therapy program at Florida Academy. According to O*NET OnLine, the career outlook for massage therapists is much better than average. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024. Contact Florida Academy today. New classes begin every six weeks.