Lecture #3: Stress & Relaxation Massage Flashcards Preview

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Describe relaxation massage & why it is useful (as defined in your student manual & online lecture)


-Relaxation massage often means using lighter pressure and long strokes, as opposed to theraputic massage or deep massage which requires deeper & stronger pressure.
-Relaxation massage is often accompanied by a body treatment.
-Relaxation massage does not have to be performed by a massage therapist where as a theraputic massage would.
-Benefits of relaxation massage include:
—>relief of sore muscles
—>relief from stress


Describe what stress is & possible side effects of stress in the muscles.

  • Stress: is the bodies response to any changes that may have been imposed on it (mentally or physically) in which we must adjust to maintain homeostasis.
  • Homeostasis: stability of emotional, chemical and physical conditions
  • sources of stressors include environment, psychological, physical and emotional.
  • emotional events are our most common stressor
  • signs of stress are reflected in the endocrine, autonomic nervous system, and muscles of the body.
  • sometimes when people adjust to these stressors and think they are handling it well, they may develop “diseases of adabption” which can include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, connective tissure disease, and headaches. Everyone handles stress differently.
  • when under stress, muscles develop “holding” or “tension”. At higher levels of stress, muscles tension becomes sustained which also causes them to become hyperactive.

Describe how humans have evolved over the years to react to stress & how our bodies show signs of stress.


Humans react to stress with a flight or fight response.

*i.e in our early years our biggest stressors were likely physical, like being chased by a wild animal.

Signs if stress include elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, faster breathing, increased perspiration, and more blood flow to the muscles (which would have helped our ancestors run from wild animals). There is also decreased blood flow to areas of the body such as the digestive system which is not needed in the fight or flight response.

Our bodies react the same way today. Although most of our stessors are likely mental or emotional. We show a decreased blood volume to the extremities, digestive system, respiratory system, and immune system function (as all are not needed in fight or flight response)


Constant stress is detrimental to our body and its healing process and will eventually lead to chronic pain and diseases. Name physical and mental signs of SHORT TERM stress.

  • increased heart rate and breathing
  • sweatiness
  • cold hands or feet due to lack of blood flow to extremities
  • feeling butterflies or sick to your stomach
  • Tightening of muscles or tension in the muscles
  • a dry mouth
  • having to go to the bathroom frequently
  • muscle spasms, headaches, fatigue
  • shortness of breath

Constant stress is detrimental to our body and its healing process and will eventually lead to chronic pain and diseases. Name physical and mental signs of LONG TERM stress.

  • change in appetite (eating more or less)
  • change in sleep habits (sleeping more or less)
  • encouraging nervous behaviours such as fidgeting, twitching, talking too much, biting nails, teeth grinding, pacing, and other repetitive habits.
  • long term stress has a longer more severe affect on the body
  • depleted immune system making you more susceptible to cold and flu, asthma, headaches, stomach problems, skin problems, and other aches/pains.
  • decreased sex life and performance.
  • constantly feeling tired and worn out.
  • when working on a client it is good to observe both physical and mental, ask if they are stressed in any way, when their stress began, their reason for coming in, ask for their stress level from 1-10, and where they feel the stress physically.
  • your goal with this client is to help them achieve homeostasis

Describe the role of proper breathing during massage.


This relaxation technique is quieting for the mind and body. It helps them focus their attention. Encourage the client to take a few deep breaths in order to create a slower and deeper breathing pattern.


Describe how to use proper breathing during massage.


-breathing practice is our time for quiet attention on ourselves and to the miracle of life. Practice breathing with the client before palpating the client.
-sitting easily & quietely even for just a few minutes frees our tensions which drain our energy.
-bringing attention to breath and body brings you into the present moment as well.
-exhalation releases tension and drops weightedness within the mind and body.
-with practice over time: mind becomes calmer, steadier and quieter focus emerges. The rhythm of breath becomes slower and more even. The body becomes more relaxed and passive. Inhalation comes without effort.
—> at first there is a release of day to day stressors and tensions
—> gradually, the mroe deeply held patterns of fear, defense, and resistance will surface allowing a powerful transformation to begin.

** it is important to practice breathing /remain calm and to be able to impart this into your client.


What are contraindications and precautions and how does a therapist handle them?


Having knowledge about contraindicaitons and precautions is about

  • knowing when you can and cannot work on a client.
  • knowing if you have to avoid a certain or specific area of avoid massage all together.

This is done by conducting and analyzing a thorough consultation with the client:

  • becoming knowledgeable of clients concerns
  • establish agreed upon goals
  • note contraindications and precautions
  • determine any pre existing conditions that might affect treatment
  • rule out presence of harmful conditions

How are contraindications categorized? Give an example of each.


Contraindications (refers to the inappropriateness of administering massage/ treatment/ services) can be categorized into 2 groups pertaining to severity: local contraindications and general/ absolute contraindications.

  1. Local contraindications: Massage can be performed but with great awareness of avoiding affected areas. Some pathologies will require a doctors written consent or prescription. A cut or abrasion on the arm is local, and massage can be performed around the cut.
  2. General/ absolute contraindications: Means the client should not receive massage of any kind due to increased risks or imposed injury and side effects. High blood pressure is an example of an internal systemic condition that affects the entire body, and of which we cannot perform massage at all.

What are examples of local contraindications? (Massage should not be performed on any area affected by these conditions)


If proper analysis and consultation is done (or doctors concent provided if needed) massage can be performed with great awareness around the affected area in a client with the following conditions:

  • acute flare up of inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc)
  • any inflamed area (hot, red, swollen)
  • acute disc herniation (spine injury, pressed nerve)
  • acute diarrhea (no abdominal massage)
  • acute neuritis (nerve pain)
  • thrombus/ thrombosis (blood clots)
  • areas of altered or impaired sensations (numbness, pins and needles)
  • bakers cyst (back of knee)
  • local contagious skin condition (athletes foot)
  • local infection (puss, smelly, red or swollen)
  • local irritable skin condition (eczema)
  • malignany (tumour)
  • open wound sore
  • peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • pitting edema (chronic swelling with pitting)
  • after anti inflammatory injection (24-48 hrs)
  • recent burns
  • undiagnosed lump

What are examples of local precautions? (Massage can be performed on the affected area with care)

  • allergies to lubricants or cleansers
  • chronic abdominal digestive disease
  • chronic arthritis
  • chronic diarrhea
  • contusion (bruise)
  • endometriosis (condition causing pain during menstruation)
  • hernia
  • joint instability or hypermobility (sprain or dislocation)
  • kidney infection or stones
  • mastitis (infection if the breast milk ducts)
  • minor surgery (do not work on area with unhealed wound of inscision)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • pins or staples
  • prolonged constipation
  • recent abortion

What are examples of general contraindications? (Massage should not be performed at all on these clients)

  • anemia (depending on cause)
  • diabetes with complications such as neuropathies, lack of sensation, organ damage.
  • eclampsia (toxemia during pregnancy)
  • hemophilia (lack of blood clotting)
  • hemorrhage (internal bleeding)
  • highly metastatic cancers (cancer is spreading)
  • intoxication (alcohol or drugs)
  • sepsis (infection of the blood)
  • significant fever
  • systemic contagious or infectious condition
  • unstable hypertension (high blood pressure not controlled by medication)
  • unstable heart condition

What are examples of general precautions? (The client can recieve massage with extreme care, and if required: a doctors note of concent. This usually consists of performing a very light massage of shorter duration)

  • diabetes (condition may cause altered sensation in feet. No applications of hot or cold should be applied to feet. Warm and cool can be used while monitoring. Always avoid insulin injection site)
  • pregnancy: no large applications of heat should be applied as body temperature tends to increase during pregnancy.

What are the “endangerment sites” on the body (areas that should recieve light to no massage)

  • anterior aspect of the neck
  • eye
  • styloid process of the temporal bone
  • axilla (armpit)
  • xiphoid process (inferior aspect of sternum and breast bone)
  • 12th floating rib
  • kidneys
  • umbilicus (belly button)
  • inguinal triangle (groin)

What is the purpose of a client consultation?

  • establish agreed upon goals
  • a therapist should be able to interperste a health history form be able to interview the client based off this form
  • consultation should identify contraindications or precautions and adjust their relaxation massage accordingly
  • allows therapist to deliver relaxation massage that will address the clients needs