Massage: It Does A Body Good
Once thought a luxury found only in upscale spas and health clubs, today, massage therapy is offered by businesses as perks or even as part of wellness programs and can be found from hospitals to airport kiosks. If you have yet to try massage, read about possible health benefits, what to expect during a massage therapy session and book your appointment accordingly.
What is massage?
Massage is a general term for the rubbing and kneading of skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints of the body with the hands to relieve tension or pain. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage, but may also use their fists, forearms, elbows and even feet. The pressure delivered may range from light stroking to deep depending on the modality and wishes of the client.
There are many differing massage modalities, including:
- Swedish massage: This is a gentle form of massage uses long, flowing strokes of light to medium pressure, kneading, circular movements, vibration and tapping to help in warming muscle tissue, releasing tension and stimulating circulation..
- Deep tissue massage: This massage technique uses slower, penetrating strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue addressing chronically tense and contracted muscle fibers.
- Sports massage: In many ways similar to Swedish massage with stretching added where appropriate, this massage will generally focus on specific areas, foresaking total body relaxing. Atheltes and non-athletes alike can benefit from prevention or treatment of injuries, pre or post event.
- Trigger point massage (Therapeutic Combination Massage): Integrating specific Clinical Trigger Point Therapy protocols with what is otherwise a traditional spa relaxation (Swediash) massage, this massage focuses on areas of contracted muscle fibers which form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.
Benefits of massage
Massage is widely considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It is increasingly being found along side standard treatment protocols for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate an effective treatment for reducing stress, muscle tension and pain.
Additional research is ongoing and more is needed in confirming the benefits of massage, many studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
- Sports injuries
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Paresthesias and nerve pain
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often involves caring, comfort, a sense of empowerment and creating deep connections with their massage therapist. Additionally, there is no question, massage can help manage stress and to that end can:
- Decrease anxiety.
- Enhance sleep quality.
- Encrease energy.
- Improve concentration.
- Increase circulation.
- Reduce fatigue.
Despite its benefits, massage isn't meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you're trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.
Review the clinical research studies examining the benefits of massage.
Review massage information from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.