I’ve spent the first month of this new year thinking about habits.
Sharing some wonderful conversations with a friend of mine who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has taught me that the habits we form, both mentally and physically, are very similar and can be interconnected. If we can understand the effects of the patterns we form, it will help us approach our bodies in a more supportive and productive way.
A large percentage of clients we see on a daily basis show up to rid themselves of pain they are experiencing as a result of the habits they’ve formed. When people think of the physical benefits of receiving massage therapy, they often think in mechanical terms; massage the muscles around a stiff area to loosen it up. However, there’s so much more to the whole picture of massage therapy.
As massage therapists, the beneficial results of the bodywork we do comes not just from the work we do with muscles, but also from the client’s nervous system responding to the stimulus we have provided. All habits, even painful ones, exist because we have created a well-established pathway and pattern for our nervous system to follow. Our brain is an expediting machine, and once it finds a path to accomplish a task, it will chose that same path over and over again unless it is given another one.
So when a client lands on our table with a stiff neck from long hours at the computer, the goal is to interrupt the nervous system’s well-established path of rounding the neck and shoulders. We want to create a stretch in the upper traps, pecs, and the front of the neck.
The brain then takes that sensation of stretch and structure and can then fall back into its preferred neutral state. If a client follows up after their session with some exercises to strengthen the back and core – to hold them up and back – then the nervous system will receive a new set of signals and can hopefully create and maintain a new, more beneficial habit.
Everyone who lands on our table is the accumulation of everything they have done. We can see how their body has carried them through their life and what they have done to take care of it. We can tell when someone has been stretching and foam rolling or if they’ve been exercising or traveling. Our body is what delivers us to all the things our minds and hearts want to do. Let us help you get there with ease.