Advanced Massage for Stress & PTSD Part 2: How to Identify if you have Chronic Stress or possible PTSD?
David Weintraub, owner of Bodyworks DW and expert LMT talks further about working with clients experiencing PTSD symptoms and how advanced massage for stress can make a fantastic additional to other therapies!
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Your Body still thinks it’s 10,000 years ago…a DW Hypothesis
I’ve had a lot to think about in my experiences both working with PTSD clients using massage for stress techniques and also living and working through the last year of covid-19 crisis. The following is theory based on anecdotal data and a lot of scientific reading. Yes I’ve seen it play out with hundreds of clients but I don’t have the time or resources for a true scientific study. So I want to make that clear. But I think it’s a useful paradigm to try out and see what insights it may give us about ourselves and our stress.
We really like to convince ourselves that we are very evolved, and in a lot of ways that is true. We build fantastic machines that perform relative miracles to anything we could conceive of in primitive times. Intellectually, most of us understand that we need thoughtful solutions to modern problems. Including working together as a team on projects that improve our safety and daily lives.
However, a lot of the older nervous system programming shows up under stress and can cause a reversion to our less evolved selves. Massage for stress and pain relief can do a lot to reset our systems and allow us to “reboot” back to the present!
10,000 years ago, most problems required a physical solution. Think about pre-tool making. You either gather fruit and other edible plants, or physically catch, wrestle, and kill your food. Or both. In order to hunt (or avoid being hunted), you needed three basic skills: hiding, running, and fighting.
These three skills show up in all animals as instincts and we are no exception. While most of us have learned to largely tame them, they still show up in small and medium ways.
Here are some great examples of “micro” behaviors that are carryovers from these instincts
Hiding Behaviors (making oneself small or invisible)
- As mentioned above, shallow breathing is a form of hiding
- Lowering the eyes and not making eye contact
- “Fake” smiling even when you aren’t actually happy
- Bowing or showing deference with stooping posture (based on crouching)
- Forgetting things
Running Behaviors (ready for action at a moment’s notice)
- Foot tapping and knee knocking
- Pointing feet away from a possible adversary
- Running for exercise (especially for those who “can’t live without it”)
- Hair trigger responses to sound or movement
- An inability to relax and rest
Fighting Behaviors (marking territory)
- Jaw clenching when worried or angry is a micro version of “baring the teeth” to ward off an attacker
- Fist clenching
- Raising shoulders
- Leaning chest forward
- Manspreading (and/or mansplaining)
If you are exhibiting some or many of these behaviors, it’s likely that the stress of modern life is becoming overwhelming to the point where your body is trying to solve things using a physical solution. Of course, we intellectually know that these solutions will likely not be able to solve moderns problems like job loss, a topsy-turvy stock market, or that report that’s due on Monday that you didn’t finish over the weekend. What can I say….sometimes our bodies are “dumb” that way. A great massage (or acupuncture session) can help soothe the physical systems, and allow you to calm down enough to refocus our highly evolved brains on modern problems. Without the likely unhelpful worry and anxiety!
We look forward to seeing you at the studio! – David
- (1) Web MD on Covid Long Haulers
- (2) Healthline article on Long Haul Symptoms Recovery
- (3) July 25 Covid-19 “Long-Hauler” Symptoms Survey Report, Indiana University School of Medicine and Survivor Corps
- Are you noticing pain in your body? Pain often ends with massage therapy for breathing restrictions!
- While hospitals have capacity for COVID-19 patients in NYS, it is relatively safe to get massage
- Can massage therapy help with low back pain in the long term?
- 5 Reasons to Make Massage Your Monthly Routine