Massage is a tool not a luxury! Yoga healed me! Jiu Jitsu saved my life!
Cue the eye roll from anyone who has not struggled with; Chronic Pain, Tension, Anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), PTSD, or more to the point of this post, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but I’m dead serious. Touch and movement can be some of the best tools you can use to manage some disorders of the mind!
I’m here to tell you there is now evidence based research showing the relationship to connective tissue and depression! In December 2021, the first study of its kind was published in Cognitive Therapy and Research “Myofascial Tissue and Depression.”
It’s been my personal experience that massage therapy, Jiu Jitsu, exercise, and Yoga Tune Up® (yoga with self massage) has helped me and many of my students to manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief and so much more.
Tiny Anatomy lesson:
- Myo = muscle
- Fascia = connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber and muscle in place.
In the Myofascial Tissue and Depression study they discovered that all of the depressed patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder MDD, had higher stiffness and reduced elasticity in their fascial tissues in the upper back and neck than never-depressed control individuals!
Patients in the MDD group, after rolling on a rigid foam roller showed a reduced negative memory bias and more positive affect compared to placebo patients.
“Heightened body tension, depressed gait patterns and posture might then feedback into the psychological system and make negative emotional cognitions and emotional states more accessible.”
If you have ever taken a yoga class of mine or received a massage from me, you have heard me say something along the lines of “the body and mind aren’t different,” or “the body keeps the score of the mind,” or “the cycle between body and mind can be a viscous one if not managed.” Now there is evidence based research suggesting we can limit our overly protective muscle memories to help ease the mind. I find this absolutely fascinating.
I have many clients and students that use massage therapy and Yoga as a way to deal with stress. People who receive massage therapy or attend yoga classes intuitively know and have been able to feel these benefits for centuries. Now we have more and more quantified research to prove it!
Many of our Jiu Jitsu students use their time on the mat as therapy. We even have a little joke here about choking your spouse in a safe learning environment is like couples' therapy. There are probably many reasons that one helps couples connect but my connective thinking here is about movement, exercise, blood flow. Both partners receiving compression to their tissues and joints actually can help decompress the stress of the mind. JUST WOW! No wonder BJJ draws in warriors, people dealing with trauma and stress, and even intellectuals. The mind is healing – decompressing as the body is moving.
I have always had a deep knowing, more intuitive than analytical, that Yoga, Massage, and Jiu Jitsu are more than physical practices. These practices individually or combined can have a profound effect on your state of mind which impacts your entire state of BEing. When the mind shifts from depression (living in the past), anxiety (living in the future), or the combination of depression and anxiety (the inability to exist in the present moment), you then allow the mind to be present, at one with the body and spirit. Tension lessens, connection deepens, and the cycle continues.
I conclude that the study indicates the negative of this cycle is true as well. Tense Mind = Tense Body = Tense Spirit (or BEing). But that of course is my own intuitive observational understanding. The FACTS are linked below but I feel this is the start of a beautiful conversation.
Check out the full study for all the facts.
But don’t forget to let your intuition lead you when it comes to dealing with your mind and body.