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Lower your high blood pressure with deep tissue massage

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is when your blood pressure is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities.

Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension). The higher your blood pressure levels are, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Symptoms and causes of high blood pressure

High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and as such many people do not know they have it. Measuring your blood pressure regularly is the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure. It can happen due to many reasons, one of them being unhealthy lifestyle choices such as not getting enough physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.

How deep tissue massage lowers high blood pressure

One of many benefits of deep tissue massages is that it can help lower your blood pressure. Studies show that the pressure applied during deep tissue massages has a positive effect on systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure. As this type of massage relieves tension in your back and neck, it also helps to lower cortisol levels and boost the oxytocin hormone, making your body relax leading to a reduction in stress levels. Though the immediate pressure can be somewhat discomforting, it will ultimately result in tension and stress relief.

It is a known fact that massage improves circulation and blood flow. What most people don’t know is that one of the greatest benefits of deep tissue massage therapy is that it can positively affect hypertension or high blood pressure. We are not just talking about a temporary change in blood pressure while receiving a massage. There are recent studies that have proven that massages can actually lower blood pressure long term. Your blood vessels are actually made up of smooth muscle fibers that move together to create a contraction or pumping action, and then relax or dilate to allow blood to flow. Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the blood vessel walls as it is pumped throughout the body.

That force is recorded as a fraction (the top number) which is the systolic pressure that measures the force created by the heart pumping.  The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) measures the force between beats of the heart. When arteries become hardened and narrowed because of plaque buildup or other factors, the blood has to squeeze through a smaller space, creating more force against the vessel walls.  If the body retains fluid due to excessive salt intake or diseases like lymphedema, the pressure in the arteries can increase even more. Also, when the body is under stress, the adrenal glands in your kidneys produce an abundance of the stress hormone called Cortisol.

Cortisol increases blood pressure to pump blood to muscles to run away from the perceived danger and diverts blood away from vital organs like the stomach in digesting or hormones for reproductive function. The body prioritizes the functions for survival and it reserves the valuable oxygen, nutrient rich blood to get you to safety. Once the stressor has disappeared, the body goes into repair mode and begins to secrete endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers and antidote to Cortisol, to aid in pain relief should you be injured in order to get you to safety.  It also causes the blood to coagulate or clot so that in the event the stressor was actually something that caused harm, you would not bleed to death.

After only 20 minutes of deep tissue massage, the body begins to release those endorphins that relax the blood vessels, reduce the intensity of the heart pumping and shuts down the adrenals from producing more Cortisol. The blood flow is temporarily increased, carrying oxygen and nutrient-rich blood cells to aid in healing the body. It also helps release stagnant by-products and congestion of tissues from injuries or lack of circulation. Massage reduces the wear and tear on your body and mind.

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