Benefits of Parasympathetic Massage Therapy
Massage helps to turn “off” the sympathetic nervous system and turn “on” the parasympathetic nervous system. When the body is massaged blood and lymph circulation is increased moving vital nutrients and oxygen throughout the body to organs and muscles.
Your nervous system is that part of your body that stimulates and regulates your muscle activity. It is the master controlling and communicating system of your body. Every single one of your thoughts, actions, and emotions reflects its activity. Your nervous system is the one that maintains your body´s homeostasis, which is the state of equilibrium, balance, or stable internal environment of your body.
Parasympathetic Massage Therapy encourages balance, by stimulating the blood flow and lymph throughout your body, which in turn removes the toxins and wastes in a more efficient way, helping oxygen to flow without difficulty through your body´s systems, restoring vitality and energy. Massage does not only affect your body´s physical state, but it also has a dramatic effect on your nervous system.
The nervous system has a Structural Classification and a Functional Classification.
–Central Nervous System (CNS): The brain and spinal cord
–Peripheral Nervous System (PNS): Nerves that extend from the brain and spinal cord.
–Sensory Division: Keeps the central nervous system informed of events going on inside and outside of your body.
–Motor Division- Carries impulses from the central nervous system to affector organs, muscles, and glands.
The Motor Division has two subdivisions:
-Somatic Nervous System: This allows you to voluntary control your skeletal muscle (Voluntary Nervous System)
–Autonomic Nervous System: Regulates events that are automatic or involuntary (Involuntary Nervous System)
And finally, the Autonomic Nervous System has two very important parts:
–Sympathetic or Fight or Flight Division: This part mobilizes your body during extreme situations, it prepares your body (Fear, exercise, danger, rage) It can increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, decrease digestive system, increase sweat, etc.
–Parasympathetic or Craniosacral Division: This division allows you to relax, unwind, and conserve your energy. It relaxes your body. It can slow down your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, promote your energy storage, etc.
The Autonomic Nervous System governs your ability to balance and cope with stress. The Sympathetic Division controls your fight or flight reflex, which is the one that prepares your body for stressful situations. When you get stressed, your heart rate and breathing increase, and your adrenal glands and sweat glands can go into overdrive. Remaining in this state for too long can place enormous strain on your mind and body, it can have damaging effects on your immune system and can lead you to stress-related illness.
Massage therapy can help engage the Parasympathetic Division, which is the balancing side of your nervous system, the one that can calm your body. Having regular massage therapy enables your body to restore balance and flush out toxins. It can help you sleep better, increase concentration levels and improve your mental alertness, it improves your mood and eases your anxiety. Massage provides you also with that amazing relaxing sensation that has benefits well beyond the treatment room. Your body is resilient but it is not built to cope with too much stress for too long.
Parasympathetic nervous system: The part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system, together with the sympathetic nervous system, constitutes the autonomic nervous system.
The Sympathetic Division controls your fight or flight reflex, which is the one that prepares your body for stressful situations. … Massage therapy can help engage the parasympathetic Division, which is the balancing side of your nervous system, the one that can calm your body.
What is the difference between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?
Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic. Both parts of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work involuntarily. Sympathetic responsible for the response commonly referred to as “fight or flight,” while parasympathetic is referred to as “rest and digest.”
What is the function of the parasympathetic nervous system?
Body functions stimulated by the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) include sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation, urination, digestion, and defecation. The PSNS primarily uses acetylcholine as its neurotransmitter. Peptides (such as cholecystokinin) may also act on the PSNS as neurotransmitters.
How does massage affect the parasympathetic nervous system?
The other is the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the body down for repair processes, like digestion and rest. … It stimulates the central nervous system via the peripheral nerves in the skin. This stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Regaining balance between the two systems is what massage therapy does.
How do you calm the parasympathetic nervous system?
- Breathe from your diaphragm. …
- Combine diaphragm breathing with mindfulness—the practice of calmly resting your attention on whatever is happening in the present moment. …
- Use imagery to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
What activates the parasympathetic nervous system?
The Nervous System. … The body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) balance each other out. The SNS is catabolic and mobilizes the body’s resources to help the body “fight or flight” threatening situations. The PNS is anabolic and helps the body rest, digest, and recover.
What is the Slow Internet Movement?
How often do you clock in at or under the time you’ve allotted for a task? I rarely do.
Take my raised asparagus fern bed that needs to be cut back a few times each year. Every time I assess the task, I estimate it will take 20 minutes at most. But it always takes at least twice that long. By the time I’m done, I’m “trashed” as we call it in my household.
Inspired by The Slow Internet Movement, when I tackled the task a few weeks ago, I doubled my 20-minute time estimate. Forty minutes is more than I can handle stress-free at one time, so I cut back half the ferns on Saturday and the other half on Sunday. Sure, the box looked odd for 24 hours, but no one seemed to notice. Not only did I spare myself burnout, but I truly enjoyed the activity both times.
2. Consciously perform tasks in slow motion. Whatever you’re doing at the moment, slow it down by 25%, whether it’s thinking, typing on a keyboard, surfing the Internet, running (excuse that unfortunate word) an errand, or cleaning the house. Pick some tasks to experiment with.
Unless I’m vigilant, I’ll slowly speed up until, soon, I’m moving at full speed. Often, this scurrying around is for no apparent reason! When I realize this, I take a deep breath and repeat the words of the Chinese sage Lao Tzu: “Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”
3. Stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system—sometimes called the involuntary nervous system-—regulates many bodily systems without our conscious direction, such as the circulatory and respiratory systems. Two of its three branches are the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
When the sympathetic nervous system is aroused, it puts us on high alert, sometimes called the “fight-or-flight” response. The sympathetic nervous system is necessary to our survival because it enables us to respond quickly when there’s a threat. By contrast, when the parasympathetic nervous system is aroused, it produces a feeling of relaxation and calm in the mind and the body.
The two systems work together: as one becomes more active the other becomes less active. But they can get out of balance. Many people live in a constant state of high alert and high anxiety—sympathetic nervous system arousal—even though there’s no immediate threat. Three of the recognized causes for this are our fast-paced, never-enough-time-to-do-everything lifestyle; sensory overload (exacerbated by multitasking); and the media’s distorted but relentless suggestion that danger lurks around every corner.
In other words, the parasympathetic nervous system-—the system that produces a calm and relaxed state—is underactive. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, we can restore balance. With that balance restored, we naturally slow down our pace of life.
The following techniques for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system are adapted from Rick Hanson’s excellent book, Buddha’s Brain. You can try these just about anywhere, anytime.
- Breathe from your diaphragm. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system because it slows down your breathing. If you put your hand on your stomach and it rises up and down slightly as you breathe, you know you’re diaphragm breathing. (This is why it’s sometimes called abdominal breathing.)
- Combine diaphragm breathing with mindfulness—the practice of calmly resting your attention on whatever is happening in the present moment. If your sympathetic nervous system is in a constant state of arousal, mindfulness helps restore the proper balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems by increasing the activity of the latter. This creates a feeling of calm and relaxation.
- Use imagery to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Visualize yourself in a peaceful place, like a mountain stream, a forest, a secluded beach. Engage all your senses in this imagery—sights, sounds, the feel of the breeze on your face.
- A favorite of mine: Lightly run one or two fingers over your lips. Parasympathetic fibers are spread throughout your lips so touching them stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. I was skeptical of this until I tried it. Now it’s my “go-to” practice for immediately calming my mind and body. Once I’m calm, I slow down naturally.
4. No multitasking. (Okay, okay: less multitasking.) Korean Zen master Seung Sahn liked to tell his students, “When reading, only read. When eating, only eat. When thinking, only think.” To us, this means, no multitasking! I’ve discovered that it’s hard to break the multitasking habit. Sometimes it feels like an addiction. Mindfulness practice helps because unless I consciously pay attention to the present moment, I can find myself engaged in multiple tasks without even realizing it.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.