My overall premise for the year is to talk about the stress-disease connection and how research shows the efficacy of massage therapy. Stress takes place when your internal dialogue does not match your external environment. When stress occurs, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy stress helps us prioritize, and is very useful in the short term. Unhealthy stress emotionally overloads us, and compromises our well being. The stress-disease connection argues that by compromising our well being, unhealthy stress decreases the effectiveness of our immune system, which is our body’s defense system against disease and illness.
Pain related to stress, and stress related to pain, make up two factors in the stress-disease connection. Regardless of which came first, pain and stress form a feedback loop. Pain causes one to have unhealthy stress, and unhealthy stress reduces our tolerance to pain. This results in a difficult cycle that can lead to further health complications. Massage therapy, as a treatment for both pain and unhealthy stress, is one modality that supports our well being and so may boost our immune system.
Research done by the American Massage Therapy Foundation and the American Massage Association has shown that massage therapy may be effective for the following conditions:
- Neck and Shoulder pain
- Migraine / Headaches
- Low Back pain / Sciatic pain
- General pain / Chronic Pain
- Mental health / anxiety / depression
- Head / neck / Jaw pain (TMJ)
I will dedicate this year to the above conditions and how the pain and stress they induce can indirectly affect our immune system. Each month I will write about one condition and how research has shown massage therapy can help manage it. In my next post I will address neck and shoulder pain.