Massage for PTSD

Massage for PTSD

July is right around the corner and many people associate fireworks and celebrations with PTSD. While massage can help with stress and anxiety, it doesn’t make PTSD go away. It can make it easier to manage. If you, or someone you know, suffers from PTSD, a massage may be a great way to manage triggers and reduce anxiety.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that occurs in response to an overwhelming or traumatic event. It is commonly seen in veterans, but sadly, 1 out of 11 people experience these severe, life-changing occurrences.  

According to Michigan Psychological care, trauma can occur in various ways, but a few common experiences are generally known to be traumatic. These can include:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Divorce
  • Family or parental abandonment
  • Incarceration
  • Job loss
  • Natural disasters
  • Physical injury
  • Serious illness
  • Terrorism
  • Violence
  • Witnessing a crime, accident, or death

Massage for PTSD: How Can it Help?

The relaxation effects of massage therapy can be very beneficial to many types of anxiety and stress, including PTSD.

According to Psychiatric Times, massage controls pain severity through its effects on both physical and psychological symptoms. A significant reduction of PTSD symptoms has been seen in veterans after massage therapy. Moreover, findings suggest a reduction of substance abuse, anxiety, stress, depression, and dissociation.

Massage techniques range from a very light touch to a deep touch. Some use only pressure points; others use oil, rocking, stretching, petrissage, and cross-fiber friction with the patient either clothed or unclothed and draped. At least moderate pressure is required to stimulate vagal activity and induce parasympathetic response.

Types of Massage for PTSD

As a trained and certified massage therapist, I offer a variety of services to suit different needs. The following types of massage could be helpful.

Swedish Massage

This is one of the most well-known types of massage. When people talk about massage therapy, they most likely mean a Swedish massage. It is sometimes called a “classic massage.” A Swedish massage is characterized by long gliding strokes, kneading, and circular movements on the body. Massage lotion or oil is applied to reduce friction on the skin during a session. This type of massage helps ease joint pain, muscle aches and stiffness. It also improves circulation, and facilitate healing after an injury. It is highly adaptable, and could be very gentle and relaxing.

Chair Massage

Chair massages are also known as seated or on-site massages. The fully-clothed client sits on a specially-designed chair, which facilitates the session. The massage is concentrated mainly on the back, arms and hands of the client. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, such as Swedish and Deep Tissue massages. An advantage of this type of massage is its versatility and portability. 

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massages, as the name implies, go deeper into the muscles than a regular or Swedish massage. It can help with rehabilitation after an injury, chronic muscle pain, and conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis. It is often combined with other types of massage.

Infrared Sauna for PTSD

Infrared spa treatments are a great way to rid the body of unwanted toxins and can be very relaxing. Environmental chemicals and any heavy metals such as mercury or lead that have built up in the body are excreted through sweating, and the infrared sauna is a way to comfortably sweat, relax, and purify skin.

Infrared technology allows treatments to be available at different heat levels: near, middle, and far. These levels refer to different infrared wavelengths and heat intensity. Testing has shown that near-infrared levels are excellent for the healing of wounds and increasing the function of the immune system. Middle levels are better for improving circulation as well as enhancing the relaxation of muscles. And the far infrared levels? Those are ideal for detoxification. Often new users prefer to start their sauna time slowly, working up to thirty-minute sessions from an initial five minutes to start, but if you use a standard Swedish sauna frequently or have a high tolerance to heat, it’s fine to spend a longer period of time initially in an infrared sauna.