Registered Massage Therapist
Member of the Massage Therapists' Association of Nova Scotia since 2000

The Halifax Professional Centre
5991 Spring Garden Road • Suite 577
Halifax, Nova Scotia • B3H 1Y6
902 • 580 • 2708



Stretching your muscles is a good way to decrease pain and aching. Here are some suggestions about getting the most from the stretches you already know:

1. The stretch should be done slowly and held for at least 30 seconds. (Watch the clock. Sometimes 30 seconds seems like forever.)

2. If you experience pain during your stretch, don't push yourself past that point. Do the stretch up to that point and then back it up into the pain free range. Hold your stretch there.

3. Keep breathing. Breathe deeply. It helps you and your muscles relax and increases the stretch.

4. Imagine the muscles and joints you're stretching. If you don't know specific anatomy, visualize the general area lengthening. Imagine the joints opening and softening.

5. If you've been given instructions about specific stretches, watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you are doing them correctly. If you are going to see the health care provider again who suggested the stretches to you, ask them to watch you stretch to make sure you are still doing them the right way.

6. Warming your muscles before stretching, either with a bath or in a shower, can increase the stretch. You can even do some neck stretches in the shower.


Some Effects of Massage Therapy

The following is an exerpt from: To Touch Or Not To Touch: Rethinking The Prohibition On Touch In Psychotherapy And Counseling. Clinical, Ethical & Legal Considerations

By: Ofer Zur, Ph.D. & Nola Nordmarken, MFT - 2004


Earliest recorded medical history dates from 25 centuries ago and includes references to medical treatment utilizing touch in Eastern cultures (Miller, 1997). Shamans, in many cultures, used touch as one of the healing practices used to heal mind, body and spirit. Healing practices began to evolve into the science of medicine in the middle ages. Touch healers who had long been honored by their communities gradually lost clout. They were negatively stigmatized by both, medical and religious proponents (Cohen, 1987). By the 17th century, the Christian church conceded control over the physical body and this important historical compromise established the Western split between body and mind/spirit. "In the (modern) technological view of the world, medicine is viewed as an industry and healing as a process to be adapted to the mechanical constructs of assembly-line production" (Hunter & Struve, 1998, p.48). Touch has become almost irrelevant.

Recent research done by the Touch Research Institute has demonstrated that touch triggers a cascade of chemical responses, including a decrease in urinary stress hormones (cortisol, catecholamines, norepinephrine, epinephrine), and increased serotonin and dopamine levels. The shift in these bio-chemicals has been proven to decrease depression (Field, 1998). Hence, touch is good medicine. It also enhances the immune system by increasing natural killer cells and killer cell activity, balancing the ratio of cd4 cells and cd4/cd8 cells. The immune system's cytotoxic capacity increases with touch, thus helping the body maintain its defense against pathogens (Field, 1998).

Massage therapy has been shown to reduce aversion to touch and to decrease anxiety, depression and cortisol levels in women who have been sexually or physically abused (Field, et. al., 1997). It decreases diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels (Hernandez-Reif, et. al., 2000). One study examined the effects of massage therapy on anxiety and depression levels and on immune function. The subjects received a 45-minute massage five times weekly for a 1-month period. The findings were that: 1) anxiety, stress and cortisol levels were significantly reduced; 2) natural killer cells and natural killer cell activity increased, suggesting positive effects on the immune system (Ironson, et. al., 1996). Bulimic adolescent girls received massage therapy 2 times a week for 5 weeks. Effects included an improved body image, decreased depression and anxiety symptoms, decreased cortisol levels and increased dopamine and serotonin levels. In a study of children with ADHD, touch sensitivity, attention to sounds and off-task classroom behavior decreased and relatedness to teachers increased after massage therapy (Field, et. al., 1997). Following five 30-minute massages, children/adolescents had better sleep patterns, lower level of depression and anxiety and lower stress hormone levels (Field, et. al., 1992). Massage therapy also decreased the anxiety, depression and stress hormone levels of children diagnosed with PTSD, who survived Hurricane Andrew. In addition, their drawings reflected less depression (Field, et. al., 1996).