Learn more about essential hypertension and how medical massage therapy can play an effective role in its treatment. Browse SOCHI’s post on the matter for insights from leading experts.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common health problem that affects millions of Americans. It’s a silent killer that can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Essential hypertension is high blood pressure that has no known cause and affects about 95 percent of people with hypertension.
While medication is often prescribed to control this condition, many people are now turning to medical massage as an alternative therapy. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what medical massage is, how it can help lower blood pressure, and what to expect from a session.
Can It Help Lower Your Blood Pressure?
Throughout the body, blood vessels are surrounded by a layer of smooth muscle. Contraction of this smooth muscle will constrict(narrow) the vessel, and relaxation will dilate(expand) the vessel. The brain control center achieves this contraction and relaxation of the vessel walls by way of the nervous system.
The sympathetic branch of the nervous system is the body’s emergency response system. In times of stress or danger it responds by constricting blood vessels and elevating heart rate and breathing to prepare a person for fight or flight in response to the perceived danger. With enough vessel constriction throughout the body, even from mild daily stressors, the overall blood pressure is elevated.
What is a Medical massage?
Medical massage is a specific type of massage therapy that focuses on treating medical conditions. It uses various techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular techniques, and myofascial release to address the root causes of a patient’s condition. Medical massage can help reduce pain, improve circulation, and restore balance to the body. In the case of essential hypertension, medical massage can help lower blood pressure by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
During a medical massage session, the therapist will focus on massaging specific areas of the body that are associated with high blood pressure such as the neck, shoulders, and back. These areas are often tense and tight due to stress and poor posture. The therapist will use a combination of techniques to release the tension and promote relaxation in these areas. The massage therapist will also work on the patient’s circulation and lymphatic drainage to help remove toxins from the body.
Medical massage can be done either in a private room or in a medical clinic. The therapy typically lasts between 30 minutes and one hour and is done while the patient lies down on a massage table. The therapist will use a combination of techniques and oils to help promote relaxation and reduce stress. The patient will also be given specific instructions on how to maintain the benefits of the massage such as changing posture and breathing techniques.
Like any other medical treatment, medical massage has some risks and side effects. Patients with certain medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes should consult with their doctor before undergoing medical massage therapy. Also, some patients may experience temporary soreness and bruising after the massage, which should subside within a few hours.
5 Ways Medical Massage Can Reduce Stress
Throughout the body, blood vessels are surrounded by a layer of smooth muscle. Contraction of this smooth muscle will constrict(narrow) the vessel, and relaxation will dilate(expand) the vessel. The brain control center achieves this contraction and relaxation of the vessel walls through the nervous system.
The sympathetic branch of the nervous system is the body’s emergency response system. In times of stress or danger, it responds by constricting blood vessels and elevating heart rate and breathing to prepare a person for fight or flight in response to the perceived danger. With enough vessel constriction throughout the body, even from mild daily stressors, the overall blood pressure is elevated.
As usual, the control center of the body is trying to maintain balance. By selectively constricting and dilating blood vessels, the body is able to redistribute blood flow. It responds to various stress inputs, including temperature, emotion, exercise, and sexual arousal. The sympathetic nervous system is stimulated during periods of stress whether that stress is physical or psychological.
With medical massage, we attempt to balance out that sympathetic response by inhibiting it through direct touch. The various techniques in the massage reduce the messages from the nervous system to the blood vessels, allowing the vessels to expand and thus bring more blood to the area. Ultimately, this resulting dilation can lower overall blood pressure by reducing the pressure against the vessel walls throughout the body.
Additionally, the massage techniques trigger a decrease in stress hormone production, which allows the whole body to relax, which can further lower the blood pressure and promote general well-being.
Massage Strokes used for this Protocol
1. Effluerage – Effleurage or Gliding:
A light to medium gliding motion over the skin that always maintains contact and directs the stroke toward the heart. This stroke is frequently used at the beginning and end of a massage treatment, as well as linking other strokes together.
2. Petrissage #1 (petrissage means kneading)
Hands make a diamond shape and the fingers come towards the thumbs in unison with the thumbs forming a barrier for the tissue.
3. Petrissage #2
Hands form a diamond shape and the fingers come towards the thumbs in an alternating rhythm. The thumbs act as a barrier for the tissue.
In our Advanced Professional Medical Massage Program, you will learn science-based massage protocols to address a variety of physical and emotional dysfunctions. The protocols have been studied and implemented with outstanding outcomes for many years, and our faculty are masterful therapists who will guide you in becoming a skilled, compassionate practitioner of the art and science of massage. Call us to learn more about an exciting career in the growing field of medical massage!