the art of therapeutic bodywork, has been practiced from time
immemorial by both ancient and primitive peoples. Concepts
that linked the body to the mind and spirit were once discounted
as "unscientific" in the west, and the human body
came to be regarded as a sophisticated machine. Yet in the
light of the development of modern psychology and a more sophisticated
knowledge of anatomy and physiology, health care professionals
are beginning to reexamine touch therapy.
is learned in research on the brain, the connection between
mind and illness becomes understandable. The brain masterminds
or indirectly influences every function of the body: blood
pressure, heart rate, immune responses and hormones. The old
saying, "name your poison" applies to the semantics
and symbols of disease. People have long spoken of a "broken
heart" as the symbol of a disappointing relationship:
research now shows a connection between loneliness and heart
the years, our bodies become walking autobiographies that
tell friends and strangers alike of the minor stresses and
strains of our lives. If one has an accident, distortions
resulting from injury can become a permanent part of our body
pattern. Our musculature reflects old anxieties- fear, depression,
and bravado, stoicism- locked into our bodies as patterns
in our sensory-motor systems. Our body's tight patterns begin
to contribute to our locked-in mental processes. For instance,
just as the body is constricted by the mind's grief, the mind
is constricted by the body's stubborn memory of what the mind
used to feel.
total of this is that massage has unlimited possibilities
for human development from two different angles. On the one
hand, based on physiological principles, massage can provide
the means to relieve the incredible stress and strain to which
we are subjected day after day in modern living. For those
to whom pain and stiffness are a habitual way of life, bodywork
can provide a means to experience how it feels to have a body
that can breathe, stand and move more freely, unrestricted
by tight muscles and not drained by energy-consuming tension.
On the other hand, there are a diverse array of therapies
that deeply massage, manipulate, loosen and change the body's
neuromuscular system, its orientation to gravity, and its
is no other time in which bodywork can be as important an
application as during pregnancy. When we begin to visualize
pregnancy as far more than a physical state, and see it as
a profound emotional, mental and spiritual process, it is
clear that massage can be of great benefit to the pregnant
mother. For most pregnant mothers, we can use the pillow pictured
here for all or most of the pregnancy to allow them to lie
face down. This pillow has a cutout for the belly which makes
it quite comfortable to lie in this position. Women love it!
pregnancy and childbearing, the enormous influx of hormones
combined with weight gain, altered body shape, and the normal
biophysical and structural discomforts caused by increased
blood volume and a shifting center of gravity, all contribute
to many pregnant women feeling downright uncomfortable, emotionally
and physically! Massage can provide an excellent means not
only for relieving body stress, but also for helping her deal
with emotional fears and concerns. When a woman feels integrated
and healthy in her body and mind, she will manifest a more
positive pregnancy experience.
it possible that simply "rubbing" the skin can presume
to live up to claims of being one of the most effective means
to influence the structures and functions of body and mind?
The skin is the largest sensory organ of the human body, arising
in the human embryo from the same cell layers as the nervous
system, the ectoderm
area of the skin has an enormous number of sensory receptors
receiving stimuli of heat, cold, touch, pressure, and pain.
A piece of skin the size of a quarter contains more than 3
million cells, 100-340 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and
three feet of blood vessels. It is estimated that there are
some 50 receptors/100 sq. mm. a total of 640,000 sensory receptors.
The number of sensory fibers from the skin entering the spinal
cord is well over half a million.
sense, the nervous system is part of the skin, or the skin
is an external nervous system, conveying knowledge of the
environment to the organism. In the evolution of the senses,
the tactile system was the first system to come into being
in all species. The sense most closely associated with the
skin, the sense of touch, is the earliest to develop in the
means contact, a relationship with what lies outside our own
periphery. For humans touch is of vital importance, giving
reassurance, warmth, pleasure and vitality. It tells us that
we are not alone. As infants, it is primarily through touch
that we explore and make sense of the world; the loving touch
of our parents is essential to our growth. The cuddling and
stroking we receive in infancy helps us build a healthy image
of ourselves and nurtures the feeling that we are accepted
have demonstrated that our perception of how much we are touched
relates to how we value ourselves, our self-esteem. Patients
denied skin contact report feeling acutely isolated, cut off
from the warmth of human touch- hence the concept of "solitary
confinement" as the ultimate punishment. With the increased
physiological and emotional stress of pregnancy, an occasional
massage can be of significant benefit.
of the primary physical effects of bodywork are:
serves to heighten circulation to the skin by increasing
blood flow to the veins and surface capillaries, promoting
better cellular nutrition and elimination.
increases production of red and white blood cells, especially
useful in cases of anemia.
work of the heart is lessened due to improved circulation.
stimulates the activity of sweat and oil glands creating
more radiant and supple skin.
influences blood and lymph vessels by direct mechanical
action, putting pressure on the vessel walls which propels
the movement of blood, and stimulating the vasomotor nerves
which control constriction and relaxation of blood vessels
and determine the amount of blood reaching the area being
acts as a mechanical cleanser, pushing along lymph and hastening
the elimination of wastes and toxic debris.
relaxes muscle spasms, improves muscle tone and elasticity,
and helps prevent atrophy resulting from inactivity.
tissue, tired by work or exercise, is restored more quickly
as waste products of fatigue (i.e. lactic acid) are readily
removed, and replacement nutrients replenished by increased
stretches connective tissue, and improves its circulation
and nutrition, reducing the danger of fibrosis and preventing
the formation of adhesions.
improves circulation and nutrition to joints.
of the psychological effects of bodywork are:
helps relieve muscle tension and corresponding mental tension.
tissue massage helps free up fascia (connective tissue)
and muscles, allowing the body to assume a more integrated
releasing chronically held trauma and reconnecting the natural
flow and balance of the organism, touch therapy encourages
growth and openness on all levels of functioning.
stoking (Swedish massage) has a sedative affect on the nervous
system, promoting deep relaxation.
the intimacy of touch creates a state of trust and receptivity,
which facilitates clearer mental and emotional perception.
can assist the integration of emotional, mental or spiritual
transformation on a cellular level.
sense of renewed health and vitality experienced following
a bodywork session improves self-esteem and consequently
esteem for others.
then, massage is particularly beneficial for expectant mothers
as it not only promotes physical well being, but also helps
prepare women psychologically and spiritually for the process
of labor and birth. Our therapists all have experience working
with expectant mothers and work with you on what massage style
or massage will benefit you the most. Always give the therapist
feedback as to what style feels better for you.
us today at 408-739-2273 for a great massage!