Alleviate • Massaging – SRS
Do you have a sense of reluctance to bend over for lacing shoes? Or perhaps it’s just difficult to get up from a comfortable sofa after sitting down.
“Am I getting old?” A sudden thought would creep on us when we start to pay attention to these little things.
We feel our body doesn’t catch up with what we want to do. But look it closer, it’s just the stiffness we have been neglecting for sometimes.
We’ve done tons of things every day, but these are the doer, not relievers. Without relieving the used parts of our body, soon they’ll be very stiff. And stiffness will cause our muscles to be less responsive, certain postures will then be formed. It’s the inflexibility that makes us think we’re old. Let’s take a look at posture again.
Posture is more than a collection of righting and stabilizing reflexes. It’s the way we live, a manifestation of our physical comfort zone. Posture can be happy or sad, active or passive, submissive or dominant, brave or fearful.
Changing posture isn’t only about musculoskeletal aspect though; the challenges and rewards are often a profound personal growth.
Often, when the habitual posture is formed we don’t realise, unless somebody tells us.
While sometimes are impossible to avoid poor posture during a time being, we need to know how to relieve them and when.
This is where “massaging” comes in. It’ll help one to reverse the muscle discomfort, so when we need to stretch, we can do it easily.
We all know there are almost countless massage methods out there for us to pick. For this article, we will be focusing on ways for “self-massage” as it’s a part of the self-regulating system. Though it’s encouraged to find massage therapists as they have much experience and able to solve the patient needs.
Before we dive into the self-massage methods, let’s take a look at the benefits of what massage can bring us first!
-Benefits of massage-
From the physiological and physical points of view, massage helps reduce muscle tension, increase joint mobility and flexibility, and improve muscle recovery.
While the right amounts of power for massage and targeting the right areas of a body are important for a better improvement of relieving tension and such, the relief of muscle tightness and tension from deep tissue massage helps to expand the elasticity of muscular tissues, which in turns improve the range of muscle movements that previously too tightened to reach.
*For example, try to raise the hands to the air and feel the infraspinatus muscle, after a massage. How good is that? It’s definitely easier to feel and rotate comparing to before massage.
For the long-term elasticity and flexibility though, we should stretch often rather than relying on massaging alone.
Massage also induces the relaxation response. Remember the fight-or-flight mode we have? During massaging, we have to switch it off for the full course of the massage. The stress response simply can’t co-exist with the comfortable massage session.
In detail, when we’re in the relaxation mode, aka (The Parasympathetic Nervous System), which is responsible for the balance and maintenance of the body’s systems, the body moves toward a state of physiological relaxation. Our blood will divert back towards the internal organs and skin for normal regulation from skeletal muscles, as we don’t need to fight or run.
Our blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning, and hormonal levels return to normal levels. All the adrenalin pumping, muscle contraction, pupils dilation are no longer needed!
Besides the physiological state, the mental benefits we get from massage also great. It helps reduce anxiety and depression. Regardless of getting somebody’s to massage for us or we do it ourselves, a GOOD massage will certainly help reduce the negativity and brighten our mood.
But one thing to keep in mind that:
After a workout or long exercise such as a long walk, don’t rush for a massage. Our body needs at least a little time to rest, and process “the work we just put in”. So even it’s sore, or fatigue we feel our muscles, it’s better to take rests rather than receiving a massage immediately. Until we feel better, then the massage session can go ahead.
Now that we know the benefits, we shall look into the methods.
- Use hands
- Use yoga foam roller(s)
- Use massage gun
These methods are what I usually use to relieve my muscle pains regularly. They’re inexpensive and a good investment for getting better health. Here is my “toolkit“.
1: Using Hands
Although the skills of using hands to massage might be varied, like there are Thai massage, Swedish massage… etc, the principles of hand-on massage are similar nevertheless. Don’t skip the stretch, and massage on your hands too as they also get tired.
*The difference between massaging and rubbing and kneading which I’ve mentioned in the previous articles is that A) Rubbing and kneading are parts of the massage skill. There are many methods derived from massage. But being particular, like talking about rubbing, is to provide a specific way to target certain areas like knees or ankles that we might ignore them if we only mention massaging the knees. Like how, right?
So It’s easier to get across the message and being understood.
B) The power level is different. Since massage is a combination of many methods, so the power range is varied. For instance, Thai massage can get to 6.5 to 7, but the max of rubbing is 1~3 as a more gentle approach for fixing the area around our joints.
2) Using yoga foam roller(s)
Let’s take a look at the example:
For illustration, my elbows are against the mat. But what I normally do at home, I’d completely let myself fall on the mat/floor, allowing the roller does the work, as my muscles are relaxed against it.
3) Using massage gun
This is my favorite one and I use it almost daily.
With the machine, you can adjust the power level so it’s nice for you to target more different areas like the calves, while you can also massage it hard on the bigger muscles like shoulder or thigh.
Do note that a massage gun has weight. So it’s better to consider that before getting one if you wish to buy it.
So when to implement?
Whenever you feel like. Better to do it in your free times so you don’t rush the process.
For how long:
– minutes to half an hour or longer
Tips for during it:
• If self-massaging: While letting your body sinking against the massage tool, other body parts (if not necessary) should remain relaxed to save energy.
^ Sometimes you need to actively move the designated area to massage it.
^ Please allow a certain amount of time for your body to do “the healing” (When the body is sinking against), meanwhile you can relax and feel the nothingness within you. And once you’ve done one side, remember to balance it up to do another side with the same time and same position.
^ So be patient is important. The time is not wasting when you’re healing yourself. And dare to enjoy the process, it’s even better if you get obsessed with it.
- If massaging by others: Relax and enjoy.
– to ease tightened areas and make them be flexible, more connectable.
A little off-topic but since we get on the “relaxation response”:
We should always be able to recognise the relaxation mode and get back to it. Meaning that some of us might get stressed even just being in the public. Therefore, knowing and feeling the relaxation mode helps one to get back to that relaxing state whenever is needed. The big principles of Yoga, meditation and else methods are ways to help one to enter to this state ultimately and be more healthful.
It’s good not always to be on a high alert state as our body needs internal energy to digest and regulate. But knowing when to switch back to fight-or-flight mode is also important. Happy living 🙂