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Massage a powerful tool for good health

September 26, 2016 4:09 A.M.

By THERESA DRAPER

Welcome Back MRI and Pain Management Centre

Massage Therapy For Improved Health

Theresa Draper

Brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. Massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are just looking for a stress reliever.

The Benefits of Massage:

Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain, and muscle tension. While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

Anxiety

Digestive Disorders

Fibromyalgia

Headaches

Insomnia related to stress

Myofascial pain syndrome

Paresthesias and nerve pain

Soft tissue strains or injuries

Temporomandibular joint pain

...and more

Did You Know?

30% of employed Canadians work night shifts, untraditional hours or inconsistent schedules that have them rotating hours during the evening or night. Protective service employees (police officers, firefighters, or security guards) have over a 50% chance of shift work - Statistics Canada Data Health care professionals (doctors, nurses and hospital staff ) and service employees often have just under a 50% chance of working shifts - Statistics Canada Data Night shifts can cause sleep deprivation which can be disruptive to normal eating and sleeping patterns, wakefulness and cardio-vascular functions, thereby causing uncontrolled stress.

How does night shift stress happen and what can be done to alleviate it?

Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is divided into the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system branches (SNS and PNS) that keep our body in a state of balance. The SNS prepares the body for action and provides fight or flight type responses, whereas the PNS is more tranquil, providing rest and recovery responses.

Both the SNS and PNS can be disturbed in situations of uncontrolled stress. An imbalanced autonomic profile is also associated with increased inflammation, which is a known risk factor for cardiac problems, diabetes and cancer. Parasympathetic stimulation can control inflammatory reaction, which has thereby led researchers towards stress reducers and interventions such as massage therapy, which can stimulate the PNS and bring back balance to the ANS and our body’s organs.

Two UBC-affiliated doctors are currently studying the effects of massage therapy on stress and inflammation caused by working night shifts with a pilot trial of healthy hospital staff. At the end of two night shifts, participants are randomly exposed to either a 30-minute-long “upper body massage” or a “reading intervention.” Their autonomic profile is then measured by a device which non-invasively captures electrical signals from the body before and after the massage or reading interventions. Signs of inflammation will also be measured in the blood.

This is one in a series of articles written for NewsKamloops.com by the Welcome Back MRI & Pain Management Centre.

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