How often do you think of your nervous system?
Ironically, most people never do! But it’s always busy working to keep you moving, alive, and able to function in many different ways in your life. It never stops, not even when you’re sleeping. It is constantly collecting and assessing information, and deciding what to tell your body to do in response. It makes your organs function, your muscles and skeleton move, tells you what to say and how to feel.
In essence, you ARE your nervous system.
It’s important to have an understanding and respect for all that the nervous system is responsible for, so we can know how to help it recover if it becomes overloaded. If you consider a lifetime of taking in stimulus—all of your experiences, emotions, traumas, thoughts, feelings, life events big and small—your amazing nervous system handles all of that in how you respond and how the situation is resolved. It is a wonderfully complex and efficient system, that is usually able to process information and regulate itself, maintaining a balance so you can continue functioning well.
1. The Health of Your Nervous System
There are times, however, where the nervous system is “out of balance,” which can lead to a long list of symptoms. Some of which are:
- Muscle tension
Oftentimes, we just keep plugging away at life and don’t stop to check in with our mind and body. Stress becomes the norm, and because we can deal with it–we do.
But there are so many things a person can do to bring some balance back to their body and help it heal and be better. (see the “self-care” blog for more on that)
2. How Massage Can Help
One of the things people do to feel better physically and mentally is get massage therapy.
There are certainly physical benefits of massage, such as lengthening and softening tissues, working out “knots”, releasing soft tissue restrictions, etc. But one of the most beneficial effects of massage and bodywork is how it can help calm, stimulate and rebalance your nervous system.
What happens on the surface of the body– in other words how a practitioner applies touch to your skin, fascia and nerve endings–dictates what message those nerve endings send to your brain to tell the rest of your body how to respond.
For example, say we come across a tender or sore area during massage and we sense that your body tenses up and your breathing becomes shallow. Those are physical signs that your brain got the message and that a protective mechanism has been engaged.
Many client’s reactions is telling us to “keep on digging.” But…GOING DEEPER WILL NOT HELP!
We most likely need to address the area, but also must find a technique and level of pressure that allows your nervous system to trust that what’s happening is healing, not destructive.
After a period of desensitizing, we may be able to apply more pressure. But only if that is what will be the most helpful to your mind and body.
3. Next steps?
There are dozens of massage and bodywork techniques out there, all designed to help improve your health and well-being.
Find a therapist that understands your body and your nervous system is unique and who will work with you to find and fine-tune the treatment that will be most beneficial to your health!
Jami Kohlmann, LMT, CLT, CPT, CES, CAFS is the Massage Services Coordinator & Personal Trainer at Mettler Center.
Call 217-356-6543 to schedule a massage or a free 30-minute personal training consultation.