Let’s talk a little bit about tension in the body. Where does that tension come from? As a massage therapist, I often have people come to me looking for relief from their tension. Sometimes this tension is in their neck. Sometimes it’s in their back, sometimes it’s in their shoulders or in their hips. These are the most common places for a massage therapist to address. Now the attention can be from several different things. One could be from an accident that they’ve had. Perhaps they’ve had whiplash from a car accident or perhaps they fell and injured something that is one possible cause of the tension. Another possible cause could be postural related, so if they are sitting at a desk all day and they’ve got poor posture or their arms are forward, they’re there typing. This can cause tension to build up in the body as well. They are not in an optimal position and their neck is constantly working to hold their head up and this is going to be causing pain. This is going to be causing discomfort within the body.
Now another cause of tension that is often overlooked by massage therapists is nervous system tension. Now what do I need mean when I say nervous system tension? Well there can be pressure on the autonomic nervous system coming from inside the brain. There are meninges that are around the brain and around the spinal cord. That cord they wrap around the brain and go all the way down the spinal cord to the sacrum or to the tailbone. So what are the causes of tension in the meningioma? Well, one cause could be a table and fall. This tailbone fall could send a shock up the spinal cord and cause these meninges to tighten and cause things to contract. Another cause could be trauma that happened during birth. Perhaps suction was used on the baby or perhaps forceps were used on the baby and the head was actually pulled and the meninges were stretched and now they have become contracted because they are reacting to the stress that was placed on them. These are a couple of ways that the massage therapist will consider when working with autonomic nervous system tension. So what are the symptoms of this type of tension while they are going to be some things that are somewhat universal when looking at this.
So the autonomic nervous system has directly to do with the fight or flight. What I mean by that is that the body or the brain in particular is always in a high state of alert. So as it were, the brain is always getting the body ready to either run away or to fight with somebody. It’s in a high state of alert. So what are the things that the brain deems most important when in a high state of alert? Well, obviously the first of all the, the system has to be turned on. It has to be ready for the action. So is sleep a priority during this? No, it’s not. So people with high autonomic nervous systems tend to have a difficulty going to sleep. They have a difficulty turning their brain off. They have a difficulty relaxing and sitting down. Often these people will often we’ll be driving along in their vehicles and they will notice that their muscles have gotten more and more tense and then they can sometimes consciously relax, but they’re co they are getting more and more tense as they drive along and they didn’t do this on purpose. It’s just that their brain has sent signals to their muscles, get ready, get ready to get ready, and the muscles get tense and these people are wired for action. The same thing can happen while you’re sitting in a chair, perhaps in school, perhaps at Church or somewhere, and you notice that your muscles are getting more and more tense. Now that person can often physically relax, but the question is why did they get tight to begin with and it’s because the autonomic nervous system has been turned off or turned on. Another thing that happens very often is that the body’s digestive system gets impacted. Some luck. What do I mean by that is when the body is in a high state of alert, one of the things that it doesn’t need to do is go and use the bathroom. We are in a high state of alert, we’re ready to fight or we’re ready to run away and using the bathroom is not a priority. So these people will often also have problems with constipation.
They will not have bowel movements when they normally, when, when, when most people would have bowel movements. They often don’t have a bowel movement once a day, but it might be once every other day or once every three days. So this is the, this is the another sign of an autonomic nervous system that is turned on that cannot relax. Another sign of high autonomic tone is a sensitivity to pain. When your body is in a state of alert, it needs to feel everything. It needs to know where the pain is, where it’s coming from. It needs to be able to sense it so that it can react. And so people with high autonomic nervous systems often are more sensitive to pain as well. They sometimes think that they have a very high tolerance for pain, but when in fact the opposite is true, they are very, very sensitive to pain. So what can we do about this? What can we do to turn off this autonomic nervous system? Well, many times it is the meninges that are around the spinal cord and around the brain that have tightened down and are part of the problem. So what the massage therapists can do is during the massage session, he can work with the brain stem in order to take tension off of it. Now at first glance, this might seem like something that is impossible to do in a massage session. How are you actually going to impact the brainstem? But the burr bones of the head are often thought to be fused together, but in fact they are not. They can be moved, they can be mobilized and they can be expanded in order to take pressure off of the brainstem. When pressure is taken off of the brainstem and the fluids in the head are allowed to move around more freely than this will often have the effect of turning off the autonomic nervous system. So a person who comes in with high tone because their autonomic nervous system is turned on, this person will often, um, have trouble falling asleep.
It might take them a half an hour, it might take them an hour to fall asleep, but when that autonomic nervous system has been turned off, they will often fall asleep within minutes on the massage table, and this is not just because the room is comfortable and not just because the massage is relaxing, but because there’s nervous system has been turned off. If a massage therapist is going to make lasting and permanent results with a person who has I autonomic tone, then the massage therapists, first of all, needs to turn off the autonomic nervous system. The results from a massage are never going to be permanent as long as the brain is continuing to override the results of the massage. When the massage therapist works with the autonomic nervous system and then works to relax the muscles and put things in place, then the results of that massage will be much longer lasting and have a much deeper effect.