3 Pillars of a healthy and balanced body and how Massage Therapy can help?

Our body is a very complex and balanced bio mechanism.  So many systems are interconnected with each other, working together to create a unique and highly adaptable structure.  But in our competitive world, days of high stress and fatigue can really put our body and these interconnected systems to the test, potentially causing overload to the point of break down.  For example, a corporate office job with strict deadlines and an insurmountable workload can cause a person to skip meals (causing improper digestion), stay overtime (causing mental fatigue) and keep incorrect posture for prolonged periods of time (causing pain in multiple areas of the body due to overuse or underuse of certain muscle groups).

Therefore, to keep our bodies from malfunctioning and to avoid unwanted aches and pains we need to build and balance the 3 basic Pillars of good health.  The Pillars are good nutrition (healthy diet), proper rest (Sleep ~ 8 hours / night) and exercise (³ 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise / week).

Our skillful, Registered massage therapists can positively influence the body to help improve each of these categories.

  1. How can Massage Therapy help to improve digestion?

Massage therapy can help regulate and improve digestion through different ways:

  • Massage can influence the body’s nervous system to switch from SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) to PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System). SNS is responsible for the “Fight & Flight” mechanism.  When activated it puts our body on guard to fight off external or internal stimuli, which make our senses acute and body tense.  On the contrary, PNS is responsible for the “Rest & Digest” mechanism.  When our body is in this state, it relaxes, starts healing processes and digestion can function optimally.
  • The digestive system can also be influenced directly through massage & manual work on abdominal wall muscles, fascia (connective tissue), and hip flexors. These structures can commonly become tight and compress or pull on our intestines, which in turn can slow down normal digestive processes.  Scar tissues from abdominal surgeries or traumas can also be a reason of such tightness which massage can also help.
  1. How can Massage Therapy help to improve sleep?

Sleep is important for the optimal function of every system in our body.  Loss of sleep is often connected with the amount of stress in our life and how we handle it.  Increased levels of Cortisol hormone are noticed with people who are constantly under stress and can’t get enough sleep.

Studies show that massage can decrease the amount of cortisol in our system by 31% and increase the release of dopamine by 31% and serotonin by 28% (“The happiness hormones”). Therefore, by influencing the biochemistry of the body, Massage Therapy can help to reduce daily stress which can improve our sleep quality.

  1. How can Massage Therapy help with exercise & optimal physical activity?

Massage Therapy is most beneficial for the musculoskeletal system of our body and can help people with various fitness and wellbeing goals.

  • For athletes and people with active lifestyles, massage therapy can be beneficial to warm up muscles and fire up the nervous system before an event or competition. Massage can also help during the cooldown period, when toxins stored in muscles and connective tissues need to be flushed, muscles stretched and our nervous system calmed down to help recovery.
  • During training periods, massage can help keep muscular tone under control to prevent strain type injuries and also maintain muscle balance and prevent abnormal compensations from previous injuries.

So, think of Massage Therapy as an essential support tool to build and balance your 3 Pillars of good health.  We generally find that people who proactively invest time in taking care of their body through regular massage have less injuries and live healthier lives.

Massage Therapy at Ace Sports Clinic

Massage therapy is the perfect complement to Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Personal Training and Pilates. It is also a superb treatment on its own or as part of a regular maintenance program to promote optimal tissue health. Taking time away from your computer, phone and other life stressors and simply focusing on your breath, listening to your body’s subtle messages of vitality, joy and relaxation help restore your mind and body. The ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Roman civilizations all reference the use of massage techniques as playing an important role in the healing process. With good reason, as there are countless proven and perceived benefits of massage such as improved sleep, reduced muscle tension, improved joint mobility, improved posture, better lymphatic drainage, decreased stress hormones, reduced inflammation and pain along with improved immune function.

3 Wellness Enhancing Benefits of Massage Therapy

1. Improved athletic and fitness recovery

The ancient Greek athletes used massage pre-& post exercise, a theory still practiced today. A decrease in swelling and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by 30% was found in a 2005 study on The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, swelling and recovery of muscle function. “This suggests that a massage performed post exercise but before DOMS develops can alleviate soreness, no matter how the massage is performed”. Interestingly, the upper arm circumference was measured pre and post massage and the treated arm had a significantly smaller increase in circumference, demonstrating a prevention of swelling

2. Improved immune function

In a 2010 preliminary study by Rapaport et al, a 45-minute massage therapy vs light touch therapy group found “the data do support the notion that a single session of Swedish Massage therapy may have fairly profound acute effects on the immune system” compared to baseline results and a light touch control group. There was a decrease in cytokines, interleukins, cortisol and vasopressin, and an increase in the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells).

3. Shift towards a more Parasympathetic (Relaxation) state

Are you stressed?
Do you live in sympathetic overdrive?
Our autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system (“Fight or Flight”) and parasympathetic nervous system (“relax and digest”).
A 2009 study by Diego and Field, from The International Journal of Neuroscience reported the 1st half hour of moderate pressure massage calms the sympathetic nervous system and shifts to a more parasympathetic state vs the light pressure group which provoked a shift towards a sympathetic response.

So, consider a regular maintenance massage as less of a luxury, and more of a necessity for your physical and mental well-being.

Written by Ashly Metcalf, Registered Massage Therapist & Osteopathy candidate

1. Zainuddin Z, Newton M, Sacco P, Nosaka K. Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function. Journal of Athletic Training. 2005;40(3):174-180.
2. Rapaport MH, Schettler P, Bresee C. A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(10):1079-1088.
3. Miguel A. Diego & Tiffany Field (2009) Moderate Pressure Massage Elicits a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response, International Journal of Neuroscience, 119:5, 630-638