Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Holistic Approaches to Stress Reduction

Stress is a real problem in our society. Chances are you have experienced stress today that has caused you to be uptight or fearful, along with any other combination of negative emotions. Here are a few things you can do that will certainly be beneficial to help you chill and refocus, and to find your "Happy Place." 

Drink Water: I say this a lot, and believe it or not, being dehydrated can increase anxiety and stress symptoms in your body. I have experienced this first hand, and it is not a good feeling to be dehydrated, especially in this summer heat. Remember that the Mayo Clinic suggests that you should drink half your body weight in ounces every day. So drink up! 

Exercise: A good cardio workout each day, and some form of strength training, even mild, can improve stress levels and improve your mood. Part of the reason is because your body produces increased endorphins when you exercise, and that can boost a positive physical and mental reduction in stress. 

Deep Breathing: We all breathe, but often pretty shallow, and maybe not even very consistently. When you take focused time to breathe, calm your mind and focus on your inhale and exhale, just this can reduce stress. Try this; sit in nice posture. Close your eyes and relax, and for a minute forget about everything except your breathing. Here is a practice: Take a nice deep breathe into your belly and lower lungs region for the count of 4 seconds, then breathe out for a count of 6 seconds. Once you feel like this rhythm is working for you, increase the in breath to 6 seconds, and the out breath to 10 seconds. This stimulates your body and mind to relax and triggers the para sympathetic nervous system which will allow greater restoration in your body, mind, and spirit. It also brings more oxygen to your brain and body. 

Essential Oils: Essential oils have become a very regular part of our family's every day life replacing all sorts of chemicals and other products, from bug sprays to antibiotic ointments, pain killers to hand sanitizer. Some essential oils are really great for decreasing stress and clearing the mind. One that I have used recently is Vetiver. This oil has been shown to relax an overstimulated brain and can be helpful for ADD and Hyperactivity in kids, as well as mood enhancement for stressed out adults; me included. Other oils that do a wonder on stress symptoms are Frankincense, Lavender, Chamomile, Rose, and Bergamot to name a few. You can diffuse these in your environment, or apply them under specific direction topically. I find that a very small touch of essential oils on my temporals, or on my wrists, or, if really stressed out, right under my nose above my lip. Just a dab will do, especially with Vetiver, it is very potent and does not take hardly a smudge to be effective. There may be a few different oils you don't like, so you have to see which one is for you, and which ones, at this time, maybe are not. Enjoy this practice, as it can really alter your mood for the better. 

Prayer and Meditation: Probably the most beneficial and easy to do, and when combined with all of the above is a powerful conduit to a healthy and more peaceful life. Clearing your mind and communicating with the Higher Source of all life is a valuable, and in my opinion, necessary practice for contentment in life. This is another tap into para sympathetic stimulation also, so when accompanied with breathing, prayer and meditation are very relaxing. When you give all your worries to the Creator, and let go of the stress of everything happening as "you planned," you will be amazed at how much more calm and peaceful you begin to feel with each moment. 

Of course, you can come get a Therapeutic Massage with us at Snapp Therapeutics. We love to help you relax, and restore... that is what we do! And Massage has massive benefits to reduce stress, by reducing cortisol, increasing serotonin and dopamine levels, as well as inducing a deep para sympathetic response.  

I certainly hope you find all of these tools helpful and applicable to increase your contentment in life, and reduce the stressful responses that we all have in our daily lives. Thanks for reading!

James Snapp LMT 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How is Massage Healing My Body and Promoting Wellness?

Massage Therapy is incredibly beneficial to overall wellness when given the proper focus for therapeutic application. Most people know massage feels good and relaxes their body, but they don't know how massage therapy is actually producing healing in their body? At Snapp Therapeutics, it is our hope that our clients understand the value of the massage services we provide. In this article I intend to focus on some of the various ways massage can stimulate physiological outcomes that are extremely valuable to your health. 
Enjoy! ~ James Snapp LMT

Massage Therapy..... 

...Improves Circulation: Your circulatory system is stimulated by massage therapy. Your heart pumps blood throughout your entire body. When you have decreased movement due to an injury, increased tension and stress due to work and daily life, muscle pain and spasticity due to prolonged poor posture or inactivity or over activity, you may be experiencing a reduced blood flow in the tissues to those particular regions of your body. Massage therapy helps to move blood into those areas where circulation is inhibited. If you think of your muscles and tissues like a sponge, imagine that the squeezing and pushing of massage strokes are pushing yucky toxins and stagnated fluids out, and allowing fresh blood to flow in. Massage has been shown to increase venous flow and move blood into areas of tissues that have been deprived of fresh oxygenated blood supply. 

...Oxygenates Tissues: When we breath, our lungs harness the oxygen we inhale and move it in to our bloodstream. That blood is pumped from our heart, into our arteries, blood vessels, and capillaries, and to all the tissue areas of our body. As stated above, when that fresh oxygenated blood gets into areas where it was not easily accessing before, there is also fresh healing potential now entering that tissue. This is good, and is priority for healthy tissue, as well as soft tissue restoration. Just like squeezing a dirty sponge under a running faucet, the dirty goes out and fresh and clean oxygenated blood goes in! But where does the yucky stuff go? That is where the Lymphatic System plays its role. 

...Boosts Lymphatic Function: When yucky toxins are pushed out from your muscles, other soft tissue, and fat, due to the application of massage strokes, those toxins can then move from the blood into the Lymphatic System. The lymphatic system helps to rid the body of toxins, including harmful chemicals, as well as viruses and bacteria that can compromise our health. A healthy lymphatic system is a key factor in immune health and the fighting of diseases in our bodies. Massage therapy stimulates the lymphatic system in various ways. Though massage helps to release toxins from the soft tissues, it also stimulates the lymphatic system to work better, aiding in moving the lymph fluid into the lymph nodes and improving the flow of lymph fluid that may be being stored in various areas of the body due to inactivity or various other complications that can occur. 

...Aides in Detoxification: We discussed the removal of toxins from the soft tissue and into the lymphatic system. This is a valuable aspect of massage, not only for our muscles to feel good but for the health of our immune system. Toxins are in our environment, in the foods we eat, in the air we breathe, and even in the water we drink. The soft tissues of the body and fat cells also store toxins. Since massage is helpful for ridding the body of these invaders it is a good idea to drink plenty of water to increase the removal of toxins from our system. Drinking water (half your body weight in ounces) every day, and especially after massage therapy can reduce soreness and promote the healthy release of toxins; because water is responsible for 96% of our lymphatic fluid! Those who have a massage and are not hydrated or who don't drink enough water after massage may experience increased soreness or even headaches due to poor hydration and impeded lymphatic function.  

...Balances Autonomic Nervous System: The Autonomic Nervous System controls the function of the organs and systems of the body, regulates of our heart rate, controls body temperature, balances stress hormones, and many other functions of our bodies and nervous systems. The two primary segments of the ANS are Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) and the Para-Sympathetic (Rest and Digest) These functions allow balance in the body and the organs and functions of our body. Massage therapy increases the balance between these two functions creating opportunity for increased health.

...Reduces Stress: Massage therapy has been shown to reduce the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system response. When we are stressed, our nervous system produces cortisol which aides the body in times of increased stress. However, when we are not being chased by a tiger, or running from an angry mob, it is best to be relaxed and calm. Most of the time in our society, with busy work schedules, deadlines, and endless news and information in our faces 24/7, we are in stress mode much too often. With increased cortisol levels and a heightened sympathetic state, our bodies cannot heal properly. Massage sessions allow the body much more para-sympathetic (rest and digest) balance. Para-sympathetic is the state of calmness, rest, and a time when the body can restore and move through stress with ease. 

...Releases Healthy Neurotransmitters: Studies have shown that the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin are both increased during massage therapy. Both of these positive neurotransmitters can help a person achieve physical and emotional harmony and experience an increased state of well being.  

...Stimulates Abdominal and Organ Health: Massage work around the abdominal area can be very helpful for gut issues like menstrual cramping, constipation, as well as gas or bloating. Abdominal massage can also help the organs to function in a more healthy manner by gently moving these organs to help reduce any restrictions around the organs, as well as to assist in the gentle detoxification of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Proper work with the large intestine can aide in bowel movements and help to increase the regulation of the bowels. This work can be beneficial to infants, children, and adults.  

...Releases Myofascia: The Myofascial system is a network of tissue that surrounds and supports the muscle tissue, allowing the muscles to move and work independently of one another, as well as in unison. To have an idea of myofascia; if you have ever cut raw chicken you may have noticed the white layer of tissue surrounding the "meat" of the chicken. The meat of the chicken is the muscle, and the white layer or membrane is the myofascia. When we have injuries or a have a time period where we aren't moving as often as we should, or have jobs where we sit too much, or many other scenarios, our myofascia can become adhered to the muscle and skin tissue causing discomfort or pain. Massage can help to aide in the release of myofascia and reduce these "adhesions" which can impinge our muscle function. These impingements can lead to trigger points, pain points, and more complex pain disorders in our bodies. 

...Reduces Scar Tissue: Scar tissue is formed when we have injuries like muscle tears, sprains or strains, any kind of deep wound, and also from surgeries we may have or have had to "correct" problems. Massage therapy can help to break down scar tissue which forms around injury sites of the myofascia, the skin, and the muscle tissue. Scar tissue can be present around the ligaments, and other soft tissues of the body. Scar tissue can reduce muscle function by triggering pain and immobility, as well as reducing the range of motion and the function of our joints.

...Aides in Stretching, Increased Range of Motion, and Flexibility: Muscle Fibers are individual units of multiple cells. They function in groups to provide maximum strength and durability. When you feel tension in muscles, or inflexibility, some individual groupings of muscle fibers may be tighter than others, and that can produce a limitation to your movement and function. Assisted stretching, accompanied by massage therapy, is a powerful tool to help reduce spasms in the muscle fibers, can increase flexibility and lengthen tight muscle tissue, and can provide pain relief as well as increased function. Assisted stretching allows a deeper, passive stretching in which you can relax and breathe instead of having to do the "work" of stretching. This gives a deeper and more effective stretch and produces deep relaxation as well.   

...Allows for Positive Touch: Touch relieves stress and calms premature babies, allowing them to develop more appropriately. This is the same for full term babies, and it can be seen that the lack of positive touch effects the healthy development of infants as they age. It is the same for adults, and those who may have not had the experience of positive touch in their lives. Though many of us have a lot of positive touch in our lives, many do not. Massage therapy is a very productive and healing form of positive touch that provides many favorable outcomes for the receiver.   

Thank you for reading this today. I am always so grateful for the opportunity to share some of the information I have learned through my education and practice of Massage Therapy over the past 20 years. It is also a joy to provide others with the tools for their self empowerment to take their own health seriously. There is so much that we can do to have a more healthy and vibrant life, and It all starts with our choices each and every day. Wishing you a wonderful day and a full and enjoyable life! ~ J.S.

If you will be in the Mesa, Arizona area and would like to schedule a Therapeutic Massage session to experience for yourself some of these natural healing effects, please go to and click the Book Online tab. Want to read some reviews from our satisfied customers? Visit our Yelp! page for testimonials...