|visual of the 'rope'|
For more info visit http://www.bodymechanicsnyc.com/
or see our sports massage program in NYC
By Beret Kirkeby
|visual of the 'rope'|
|Lake Ontario- Toronto, Ontario|
Many years ago I visited a doctor in Canada who was an expert in TMJ (Tempromandibular Joint-this sort of doctor works with the dysfunction of the joint). He was sort of an old school doctor, the kind with a desk littered with papers and a big laugh, so that you felt as if you were walking into his home rather than his office. While questioning me, he found out I was a massage therapist.
Excited, he quickly posed this question to me, "Do you think if we did the exact same touch, detail by detail, but replaced the touch with that of a robot, you would get the same results? Furthermore if you replaced me with a robot, would you get the same doctor-ing?" At the time, I was very young and a bit intimidated by him, despite his warmth. I thought perhaps I was being tricked by someone with a higher level degree than mine, and that his point was that it was information that mattered, not the person delivering it. But I was wrong. As it turns out, he himself was doing research on human touch, and why it is so important and ultimately healing.
One of the body's most important biological features is its division between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, or in lay terms the 'fight or flight' and 'rest and digest' systems. When the body is in the fight or flight mode, it is sending the signal to you that all is not ok and that you should protect yourself. Your heart rate will go up, your posture will change to that of one preparing to flee, sounds and perceptions might increase, and your pain tolerance might go down, prompting you to move quickly. In essence you are on high alert for anything remotely threatening. Unfortunately, this is the constant state many of us live in, in cities like New York. We are forced to defend ourselves with headphones, sunglasses and external disconnects just to shut out the stream.
When we are touched, we have to take down those barriers. The simple act of allowing another person that close to you can override the stress response by mimicking intimacy, even in a clinical setting. It is a built-in part of our biology to expose soft things like the neck, the belly, and the vital organs only to those we trust and deem safe. This is an unavoidable part of the intimate human experience. By mimicking this behavior, you unconsciously send a signal to the brain that all is well. That reduces your heart rate, reduces your perception of pain, and changes your posture substantially - and all of these things are connected to blood flow and hormone secretion which drive our lives.
Whether your therapist is skilled at effecting lasting change for injuries, or is a beginner who gives a basic Swedish massage, so long as it is done calmly, in a safe comfortable manner, you have the opportunity to change your health for the better that day. The Mayo clinic lists stress as the number one killer of adults. It decreases health, and often leads people to cope by taking on other killers, like smoking and excessive drinking. Perhaps today more than at any other time, where we live in a world of technological isolation, the biological response of community and touch is even more relevant. Your " luxury" of having a massage takes on a whole new meaning if you begin to look at it in terms of a way to override the biological response to stress and eventual disease. My personal and professional opinion is that we all must take a little ownership of our lives, and decide honestly if we are doing enough to reduce our stress. Bike, swim, run, climb, laugh... massage ...touch...but do something. For more info see our Massage program in NYC or email at firstname.lastname@example.org