It’s February, so it would be appropriate to discuss matters of the heart. When it comes to the heart, it is a marvelous muscular machine that helps run our entire body. The heart however, is affected by a number of different things, one of the biggest that most of us can relate to is stress. Stress occurs when something triggers our bodies stress response, known as our “fight or flight response”. When this is triggered the body’s sympathetic nervous system, among other things increases our heart rate (sometimes as much as three times the normal) and blood pressure. This resonse is useful when there is a real threat, but not so useful for reactions to daily life challenges. Over time the body hasn’t adapted to modern challenges and therefore thinks that every little stress in our lives requires our fight or flight response to kick in. Every time we get “stressed out”, our body pours out stress fighting chemicals, increases our heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. This is where massage therapy can really help. In order to calm the stress response you need to start calming one thing down at a time. Massage therapists use their skills to reduce the muscular tension and pain that accompanies stress. In relaxing the muscular tension and pain it also encourages people to breathe more deeply and slowly thus calming the person and helping to reduce the stress response. So this month if you are feeling like your shoulders are up around your ears, or you have a little too much stress in your life, come in and make an appointment with your massage therapist to start your body’s much needed relaxation.