How to help your nervous system

Modern life is stressful. Fact. One of the questions on our screening forms is “If your life stressful?” I’m always amazed if anyone ticks no. I actually need to change that question as it does not really matter how much stress is in your life, the important thing is how you are dealing with your stress?

When we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system is working full on. This is the system that responds to a threat or when something big and scary comes along and the body needs to go into “red alert”. For example a car is hurtling towards you and you need to move, you have a huge deadline to meet or the children are shouting and you are trying to get out the door fast! It is often call the “Fight or Flight” response.

The sympathetic nerves arise from the lower and mid-upper back spinal cord. When it is switched on there can be tension all over the body. Some of the main responses that occur in the body are:

  • increase in heart rate
  • dilation the pupils in the eyes
  • need to breath faster and more shallow breaths as the bronchioles dilate
  • contraction of muscles – pumped and ready for action
  • release of adrenaline from the adrenal gland causes you to feel on edge but ready to react
  • conversion of glycogen to glucose to provide energy for the muscles
  • decrease in saliva production: the stomach does not move for digestion, nor does it release digestive secretions.
  • decrease in urinary output, no need to wee as often!

Other processes that are not critical to survival may shut down in the body, so the whole body functions differently. Now whilst this is absolutely needed in a moment of danger it is not a way we want the body to be working long term. If you are living under stress long term then it could affect your breathing, your digestive system and your muscle.

Whilst modern life is indeed stressful and you may not be able to change that… what you can do is to build in techniques to help your mind and body let go of the stress. I think this is vital to do and it’s certainly something I’m working on myself. I’m 100% lucky as I get to practise what I preach daily. Pilates is very much a way I destress. The breathing, mindful movement, the calm space and the concentration needed really calms me and grounds me.

Other great ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous are mindfulness (you can check out apps like Calm, Breathworks and Headspace), meditations (check out free ones online or try a class), a bath, massage, deep breathing and just more resting and crafting. How do you get your chillout time in?

 

 

How a sports massage can compliment your Pilates practice

Sports massage is one of those things that I often know I need, but I put it to the bottom of my list. Which is silly as it can make such a difference to my body.
Why do I procrastinate? It takes an hour for a massage, that’s an hour I could be doing a whole lot of other things, I have to find childcare, book it in, be organised and it will be a bit painful.

As someone who teacher Pilates pretty much daily and practises my own Pilates several times a week, then lifts, twists, bends, chases and rocks children… I use my body in a whole lot of ways, all the time. It is very rare to find me sitting still. This partly means that the constant movement I do keeps my body working. However, it also means that some of the moves I do cause my body problems. Teaching can overuse some muscles, as I demonstrate the same moves day after day. I’m often left with aching gluts!

So for me, sports massage helps:
1. Release tight muscles and finds the areas where you are tight. I went for a massage on my shoulders recently and it turned out my bum needed work instead!
2. Helps to realign you. Those tight muscles can be holding you in a bad posture.
3. Reduces stress and tension. I always feel more relaxed afterwards.
4. Leaves my body stretched working in a more functional way.

All of this means that the next time I am back to Pilates my technique improves. There are times when stretching works, there are times when massage works. If you are plagued by tight muscles in a certain area and you just can’t fully stretch that area out often enough, then get yourself to a sports massage.

James is offering massages at a very good price right now, see the facebook page for “Southampton Massage Studios” and contact him for details.

Will a Sports Massage hurt…???

Sports Massage for some people conjures up thoughts of bruises and pain. Which can be the case, but if it is, something has not been done correctly.

Although a Sports Massage is deeper and more intense than a Spa Treatment Massage, it is far more beneficial for injury recovery, and releasing tight muscles. Sports Massage uses Trigger Point Therapy (TPT) – this involves working a knot or tightness, by using pressure to breakdown and release muscles tissue. The pain you feel through this should ease off during the application of the pressure. For a moment there may be discomfort the pain is released and it is a feel good type of pain.

Most people when I massage them, say, “Ooh, that is painful”, for about 30 seconds, followed by, “Aah, that is nice”.

Another technique used is Soft Tissue Release (STR) this is a very effective, and popular technique. STR involves the therapist locking the muscles in place, and you stretching away from the locked area. This will possibly be uncomfortable in the moment, but hugely beneficial afterwards. A little pain, for a lot of gain!

After a treatment you may feel that the muscles have been worked, and then you should feel that they have calmed down.
This is because the muscles and blood flow has been treated, through massage and muscle manipulation. Blood flow will naturally increase in the area that has been worked…naturally you may find your skin slightly reddened, but this is short lived. You may also feel a hot feeling as the blood is being perfused.

In the treatments given in our studio, the therapist will ask for feedback during the massage, as well as explanations of the massages being offered. If at any point there is too much pressure, or discomfort, they will adjust accordingly. So there is no need to worry!

Pilates with Priya: sports massage

To book a treatment, please contact James on james@pilateswithpriya.co.uk