What is massage therapy used to treat?
Massage can reduce pain and anxiety for people with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, and reduce the physiological burden of stress. It can help treat conditions including stress-related tension, cancer-related fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, low back pain, and depression, just to name a few.
Does massage therapy actually work?
The purpose of massage is to relax the tissue, increase the flow of blood and oxygen, and decrease pain. The following are some common types of massage therapy: … Swedish massage: The therapist uses long strokes, kneading, and friction on the muscles. Joints are moved to increase flexibility.
What is therapeutic massage?
Therapeutic massage is a general term that describes any type of massage modality that helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and work on a specific problem—such as a frozen shoulder. People tend to assume therapeutic massage means deep tissue massage, and that they will get a very strong massage.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MASSAGE THERAPY
Therapeutic massage is the manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissue, and it’s generally used for the reduction of stress and pain. It has been used in many world cultures for more than 4,000 years. Because many diseases are exacerbated by stress, therapeutic massage can help a person become healthier and more resistant to disease
Massage involves the therapeutic manipulation, rubbing, and pressing of soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) using the fingers, hands, forearms, elbows, knees, feet, etc.
Thanks to a recent rise in popularity, there are now over 80 variations of massage therapy to choose from, each offering a wide variety of movements and techniques. Indeed, the industry has developed to the point where you now have some categories of massage movements that cater to the entire body, while others are almost exclusively recognized as being suited for isolated muscle groups.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE
Massage is among the most relaxing and soothing sensations one can experience. However, the benefits of a good rubdown go beyond relaxation and run deeper than you might think.
A recent study that appeared in the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) publication indicates that 50% of adults who saw a professional massage therapist in the past year did so for medical or health reasons. In contrast, only 28% of massage consumers sought massage for relaxation or stress reduction during the same period. So why are so many patients turning to massage therapy? Let’s review the health benefits to find out.
1. Stress Relief
For centuries, people have turned to massage as a way to de-stress. Indeed, recent studies confirm that massage significantly reduces physical and psychological stress.
Clinical studies show that massage therapy increases the production of endorphins (natural chemicals that make you feel good), serotonin, and dopamine; while it reduces cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption; factors typically associated with stress.
2. Reduces Anxiety
That heightened sense of elation after a massage isn’t just in your head. In fact, several recent studies confirm that researchers can actually measure the impact that massage has on individuals experiencing emotional trauma. Likewise, massage has also been shown to bring about a corrective effect for those suffering from deep anxiety.
As a case in point, a 2004 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, shows that women with breast cancer who received massage therapy had decreased levels of anxiety and hostility.
3. Eases Muscle Tension
The complexities of modern suburban life have made Americans tenser than ever—both psychologically and physically. As a result, back injuries, joint stiffness, and muscle tension is ever on the rise. Unfortunately, this is a trend that medical experts don’t see changing. However, one factor that could soften the impact of muscle stiffness is therapeutic massage.
For example, techniques such as Swedish massage, have a proven track record of loosening muscle groups and relaxing stiff joints.
4. Improves Overall Sleep Quality
Maintaining good health is impossible without adequate sleep. The good news is that researchers have confirmed that massage therapy may significantly reduce the incidence of sleep insomnia. Furthermore, the effect of massage therapy on sleep isn’t limited to any one age group.
A 2006 study by researchers from the University of Warwick found that massage helped infants aged six months or less sleep better and cry less. Testing in adults proved similar results as evidenced by a University of Miami School of Medicine study.
These studies have also confirmed that massage promotes better sleep because it aids in the release of serotonin, which helps the body achieve a state of restfulness.
5. Promotes Greater Relaxation
Massage helps you rest by reducing the cortisol level and triggering several brain chemistry responses which translate into extended periods of deep relaxation.
In a study of the “effects of massage therapy on immune, hematological, and psychological state of adult subjects,” researchers found that “massage is capable of inducing psychological relaxation.”
6. Provides Muscle and Joint Pain Relief
The body of evidence that supports using massage for the treatment of pain at the muscles and joints is rock solid.
Whether it’s chronic back pain, knee osteoarthritis, hand arthritis, or any other form of rheumatism; evidence suggests that massage not only reduces pain but improves range of motion and overall function.
7. Strengthens the Lower Back
There was a time when adults were highly mobile throughout the day. However, given the amount of time that we spend straining our necks and backs using mobile devices or sitting at our desks those days are long gone. Sadly, many adults have lower back pain for life in the information age.
However, all is not lost. Therapeutic massage has been shown to alleviate back pain. In fact,
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, back pain sufferers experienced more comfort from therapeutic massage than those who were given a placebo.
8. Helps Fight Depression
Massage has long been thought to reduce depression. But several recent studies provide conclusive proof that therapeutic touch relieves those who suffer from depression.
Furthermore, there is research that validates the impact of massage therapy in alleviating perceived pain and anger. reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of anxiety attacks and mood swings.
9. Enhances Blood Flow and Circulation
Therapeutic massage facilitates blood circulation by directing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to and from our muscles and internal organs. In turn, this improved blood flow leads to growth, recovery, and healing throughout the body.
A 2014 study that appeared in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that massage therapy improved general blood flow. An earlier study published in Medical Science Monitor by Japanese researchers offered a similar conclusion.
10. Relieves Sports Injuries
Before massage therapy began making inroads in the medical sector, pro athletes and coaches had already adopted massage therapy as part of their fitness regimens.
While evidence was initially scant, new studies backed by reputable sources are firming up the effectiveness of massage therapy in sports, thanks to its proven impact on medical test subjects.
Additional Advantages of Massage
The benefits don’t end with the list above. There are many others. For example, recent studies have documented a correlation between therapeutic massage and improved cardiovascular health. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine confirms a noticeable dip in blood pressure after a professional massage session. There are many other benefits of massage. However, the points above are among the most cited.
Therapeutic massage seeks to obtain a therapeutic benefit. While therapeutic massage is often relaxing, the end goal of the session or series of sessions is not relaxation.
Therapeutic goals can vary considerably between massage therapists and clients. In some cases, massage is recommended by a health professional and may be performed as part of a larger treatment plan. For example, someone attending physiotherapy for an injury might have a regular therapeutic massage to loosen muscles, improve muscle tone, and increase their flexibility. Likewise, therapeutic massage can be used to supplement wound care, cancer care, and a variety of other treatments.
People can use therapeutic massage as a standalone treatment. Some people, such as athletes, laborers, or stressed out even office workers, receive regular therapeutic massage to keep themselves in good physical condition.
People of all ages can benefit from therapeutic massage when it is performed by a competent and fully qualified remedial massage therapist. Massage is also suitable for people with disabilities, expecting mothers, and people in treatment for medical conditions, although some special precautions may need to be taken to protect the health of the client.
Basic therapeutic massage techniques are derived from a variety of massage styles. Your massage therapist will tailor your massage techniques depending on your needs. If you are unsure whether or not massage is appropriate for you, please call us at PhysioWorks for individualized advice.
How Does a Therapeutic Massage Help You?
Therapeutic Massage is a combination of Relaxation Massage and Remedial Massage to not only relax your whole body but at the same time, work through some of the muscle issues or “tight spots” you may be experiencing.
Massage therapy may also improve your circulation, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells and helps remove waste products or reduce swelling. These circulatory effects of massage may have value in the treatment of some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
Massage therapy induces a relaxation response, which lowers your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure; plus boosts your immune system; and generally decreases the physical effects of stress.
These effects suggest that massage may be helpful for a wide range of conditions.
What Conditions Benefit from a Therapeutic Massage?
Massage therapy helps your body in numerous ways. Massage can relax muscle tissue, which may lead to decreased joint and nerve compression, increased joint and muscle range of motion. This commonly results in less pain and improved function.
Therapeutic massage also benefits the following conditions:
- General Wellbeing
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Immunity
- Minor injuries
When are the Best Times for a Therapeutic Massage?
The best time for a therapeutic massage is when you feel yourself getting worked up or when you are just not feeling your best.
Others find a regular therapeutic massage every month or two to be a great dose of prevention therapy. We even have some highly stressed patients who have weekly massages just to cope with daily life.
What Duration is the Best Therapeutic Massage?
If you have never had a therapeutic massage before or it has been quite some time since your last massage then your initial treatment should ideally be for 60 to 90 minutes so that the therapist can work through those tired muscles at an even pace to minimize any possible soreness the following day.
If you are a more regular massage recipient, your massage therapist will guide you as to the direction that works best for you and your muscles.
What Massage Frequency Works Best?
Everyone’s needs differ depending on their lifestyle. As a guide, regular therapeutic massages work best when on a 4 to 6-week basis. This is because your muscles need to keep relaxed and moving through their full available range. Otherwise, they become “creatures of habit”. If tense is how they are most often, that’s what they will consider normal. And… we all know what that leads to… tight muscles, stress, and pain!
For optimal results and less potential for muscle soreness the day post-massage, having a regular massage will keep your body from not only reacting to the positive change we are trying to provide, but it can also retrain your body to help itself and provide you with a better healthier you.
Different from a relaxation massage
The massage work may feel deeper than a relaxation massage. You also may experience more tenderness as the therapist works through the tissue. It is important to let your therapist know if the pressure feels too deep or uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to communicate.
The therapist may use various techniques during your treatment session. Depending on their training they may incorporate deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point work, various movement therapies, and passive and resistive stretching techniques.
A therapeutic massage can greatly benefit your overall well-being. The more focused work can help decrease your pain and increase your range of motion, making it easier to function in your world.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.