Benefits of Massage

| by Dr. Lynda Torrey, under Woodhouse Services

As a proponent of Ayurvedic medicine, taking a look at the Heart Chakra is intriguing to me.  According to this paradigm, the Heart Chakra, which is visualized in green and/or pink is, well, about the heart.  It is also associated with the thymus gland, one of our glands of immunity.  If there is an imbalance in the Heart Chakra, some of the physical situations that may occur are high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, upper back and shoulder problems.  There is much more to it when we look at the emotional aspects.  The Heart Chakra is our center of love, hope, trust, forgiveness and compassion, so if there is an imbalance, some of the emotional issues are said to be insincerity, difficulty accepting or giving love, self-centeredness, loneliness, lack of commitment, resentment and bitterness.  Hmmm, reminds me a little bit of some teenagers, although they must go through this phase to be able to know their own heart instead of only ours.  Yes, I have an eighteen year old.    

There is much in this world that can affect our heart and chronic stress can do this.  I am not talking about our “healthy” stress; this is what is called life.  We all go through periods of grief from the death of a loved one, being fired from a job, moving or even the blissful time of the birth of a new baby can be stressful.  For me, it is how I respond and act upon these life challenges that determines whether it becomes a chronic stress situation.  Some of the physical occurrences that do happen, even under the healthy stress category are heart rate increases, the rate of blood flow speeds up, increasing blood pressure and there is evidence that the continued release of a natural body chemical, cortisol, may trigger where fat is deposited.  This normally happens in the abdomen, which leads to an apple shape, and is a metabolic marker considered as a risk factor for heart disease.

Massage and spa treatments are extremely beneficial in relationship to the heart, from a relaxing and anti-stress perspective.  There are a number of studies on the effects of stress on the heart by such distinguished institutions as The American Institute of Stress, American Heart Association, Yale Medical School and Mayo Clinic to name a few.  An exciting new study is currently in progress proving the clinical benefits of spa.  It is a snapshot of research results from the ISPA Foundation/Ruth Stricker Grant Award and the research is being done by Spa Alchemy.  They have the snapshot completed and are working in conjunction with the University of Finland.  The University is doing a separate survey analysis of HRV (measuring heart rate) related to stress reduction through spa treatments.  The results?  Impressive.
“According to the clinically validated Perceived Stress Scale, a 4-hour spa experience significantly:

•    Reduced feelings of Stress and Anxiety
•    Increased feeling of control over life events, and irritations
•    Increased confidence of ability to handle personal problems, and ability to be on top of things
•    Reduced feelings of anger

A 4 hour spa experience significantly boosted positive affect (positive emotional states such as confidence, determination, inspiration, and strength) and reduced negative affect (negative emotions such as fear, upset, distress, worry, nervousness, and patience).”
Other benefits of massage and body treatments are that they assist in increasing circulation and metabolism, as well as improving skin and muscle tone.   Does it really get any better?  Have you had your massage this week?

There is an upcoming event that we  are very passionate about this year.  During this season, The Woodhouse Spas are embracing and contributing to the American Heart Association through support of Go Red for Women in our first annual women's wellness event and focusing on the benefits of massage therapy.  Join us as we support this life-giving wellness cause.  We will be there, will you?


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