What is integrative massage therapy?
Integrative massage therapy is an approach to massage that combines a variety of techniques in order to effectively and holistically address the needs of a client. Integrative massage therapy takes into consideration the different aspects of the client’s experience, including physical, mental, and emotional elements. The focus of an Integrative massage therapy session includes muscles and joints, but also includes a focus on the nervous system, goals, and experiences of the participant as equally important. This type of massage incorporates various modalities such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, and manual lymph drainage. By combining these modalities, therapists are able to create personalized treatments for each individual client in order to provide the most effective results.
How does the nervous system and our lived experience relate to musculoskeletal issues?
The human nervous system is an incredibly complex and interconnected network of neurons that coordinate our body's responses to stimuli and allow us to interact with the world around us. It is composed of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which consists of the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system is further divided into three branches: the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and dorsal vagal circuits. The polyvagal theory, proposed by Stephen Porges in 1993, argues that our ability to regulate physiological and behavioral responses to stressors is dependent on our capacity to engage with each of these three branches of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic branch activates the body's fight-or-flight response and prepares us for action. The parasympathetic branch, on the other hand, calms us down and allows us to rest and digest. Finally, the dorsal vagal circuit is associated with a "freezing" response and can be thought of as a last line of defense when other resources have been exhausted.
The nervous system plays a critical role in how the body functions and responds to stimuli. It is responsible for receiving sensory information from the environment and sending signals to the muscles that control movement. When a person is under stress or experiencing pain, their nervous system sends signals throughout the body that can cause muscle tension and spasms, resulting in musculoskeletal issues such as tightness or stiffness in the muscles. By providing integrative massage therapy, therapists are able to address these issues directly by targeting the muscles affected by stress or pain and helping to relax them.
Our lived experience can have an effect on our physical body, especially when it comes to musculoskeletal issues. For example, if someone experiences long-term stress due to a difficult situation in their life, such as a job loss or family drama, they may develop physical tension in their body as a result. This can manifest into tightness or stiffness in the muscles that can cause discomfort and even lead to chronic pain over time. By providing integrative massage therapy, therapists are able to work with clients to help relieve this tension and reduce any negative effects caused by stressful situations.
If you're looking for a way to manage and reduce the effects of stress on your body, consider booking a session with us. This approach works with your nervous system to help regulate physiological and behavioral responses to stressors, while also targeting painful areas to bring relief. Take control of your health and wellbeing today by connecting with a massage therapist, somatic practitioner, or other integrative practitioner. And be sure to follow us on social media for updates and special offers!
I've been passionate about Ehler's-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders) (EDS/HSD) for some time. This subject has taught me to pay attention to the "spectrum" of mobility from one person to the next as muscles and connective tissues can have different compositions of proteins and in some cases be missing certain key proteins (leading to structural weakness or hypermobility in the skin, bones, and joints).