Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday Wellness: Stressed? Massage Can Help

by Hans Piwenitzky

We have found that one of the primary reasons our clients come to see us is the relief from the stress of their day. Many show signs of exhaustion; slow or listless movements, drooping shoulders, stooping posture, etc. It is one of the most rewarding experiences in our field is to change the dynamic in such individuals through nurturing massage.

Stress has been proven to be one of the largest threats to health and well-being in our society. The effects of stress can manifest themselves in a wide range of physical symptoms, such as:

  • Stiff and tight muscles, particularly in the neck/shoulders
  • Headache/migraine
  • Nausea/upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate

Over time, stress can affect your:

  • Muscles. Constant tension from stress can lead to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Stress may make rheumatoid arthritis worse.
  • Stomach. If you have stomach problems, such as acid reflux, peptic ulcer disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, stress can make your symptoms worse.
  • Heart. Stress is linked to high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), blood clots, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). It's also linked to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure.
  • Lungs. Stress can make symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worse.
  • Immune system. Constant stress can make you more likely to get sick more often. And if you have a chronic illness, stress can make your symptoms worse.
  • Reproductive issues. Stress is linked to low fertility, erection problems, problems during pregnancy, and painful menstrual periods.
  • Skin. Skin problems such as rashes, acne and psoriasis are made worse by stress.

A recent study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that a single session of massage caused biological changes. Volunteers in the study showed significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as increases in white blood cells that are part of the immune system.

The benefits of massage for stress relief include:

  • Relaxation of muscles
  • Significant decrease in heart rate and 
  • Decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • Reduction in oxygen consumption
  • Increase in circulation
  • Reduction in stress related pain 
  • Reduction of general aches and pains that can elevate stress itself.
  • Lowered stress hormones (cortisol levels)

In the attached studies, all subjects in the massage group showed significant changes in emotional states and stress levels.

If you are feeling stress at a level that may be hurtful to your overall health, why not try a few massage treatments to help your body cope with it.  You may find a great deal of relief.


  1. Delaney, J.P., Leong, K.S., Watkins, A., & Brodie, D. (2002). The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37, 364-71.
  2. Boone, T., Tanner, M., & Radosevich, A. (2001). Effects of a 10-minute back rub on cardiovascular responses in healthy subjects. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 29, 47-52.
  3. Cady, S. H., & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84, 157-158.
  4. Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations.
  5. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.
  6. Brennan, M.K. & DeBate, R. (2004).The effect of chair massage on stress perception of hospital bedside nurses. Massage Therapy Journal 43, (1), 76-86.
  7. Field, T., Quintino, O., Henteleff, T., Wells-Keife, L., & Delvecchio-Feinberg, G. (1997). Job stress reduction therapies. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 3, (4), 54-56.
  8. MacDonald, G. (1998). Massage offers respite for primary care givers. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, Jan/Feb, 43-47.
  9. Cady, S. H. & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84(1), 157-158.

Hans Piwenitzky is the co-owner of Acujin Holistic Therapies, working with a team of wellness practitioners in Clairemont. He is a California licensed massage therapist, as well as a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner  (HHP) with 14 years of experience in the holistic field. He is trained in a variety of healing modalities including Swedish, Deep tissue, Myofascial Release, Acupressure and Trigger-point therapy, as well as Reiki techniques.  

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