These adjectives are some of the most commonly used when it comes to accompanying the word massage in an experience that seems to have no clearly defined therapeutic objective.
Whether misused or vaguely understood, in truth this combination of words is intended to evoke the positive influence that touch has on the health of an organism.
This increasingly researched area also deserves to be disseminated at the popular level, giving it back the valuable place it occupies.
Let’s start by defining stress, according to the RAE: the tension caused by overwhelming situations that originate psychosomatic reactions or psychological disorders, sometimes serious. – It would be interesting to add the distinction between «beneficial» stress and «harmful» stress – also called distress.
In any case, stress tells us about an organism’s capacity to adapt to the dynamics that it is presented with, whether as a basis in its daily life or in the face of a specific event. Harmful stress, as we can see, has a negative impact on a complex combination of levels – physical, mental, emotional.
This impact has been – and is – the subject of numerous studies, thanks to which its influence on behavior, on immunological competence as well as its visible effect on the skin has been demonstrated.
This relationship, skin – nervous system, is currently recognized with acceptance in the appearance of, for example, urticaria, psoriasis or certain psychosomatic disorders. What has recently become more revealing is the impact that the organ of the skin – through touch as its associated sense – can have on the nervous system.
As Ashley Montagu points out in her book: Touch, The Importance of Skin in Human Relationships.
The Central Nervous System, whose main function is to keep the organism informed of what is happening outside, develops as an internal part of the general surface of the embryonic body. (…) Therefore, the N.S. is a hidden part of the skin, or it can be seen as the exposed part of the nervous system.
Our understanding of the subject would be improved, therefore, if we were to consider the skin and speak of the skin as the external nervous system, a system which, from its first differentiation, maintains an intimate association with the internal or central nervous system. >>
I conclude that the purpose of these anti-stress / sensitive / relaxing massages, among which the Californian Massage stands out, is to alleviate the physical and emotional consequences of stress, providing through touch the feeling of integrity, security and acceptance; thus favoring the release of these tensions.
María Lucas Ruiz │ Californian Massage Therapist and assistant at the Spazio Massage Training School.