Massage is one of the oldest healing traditions. Many ancient peoples were convinced of the therapeutic properties of massage and used it to treat a variety of ailments. Massage therapy is the practice of manipulating a person’s muscles and other soft-tissue in order to improve their well-being or health. It is a form of manual therapy that includes holding, moving, and applying pressure to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. The term ‘massage therapy’ is used to describe a wide variety of techniques that vary in the manner in which touch, pressure and the intensity of the treatment is applied.
There are many different types of massage, including these common types:
- Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energise you.
- Remedial massage. Is the objective assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of the signs, symptoms and causes of bio-mechanical dysfunction or injury, using specific mobilisation techniques, in order to restore normal health and function. This massage technique uses slower, more-targeted strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help injury. Can be both deep or shallow styles depending upon the needs.
- Sports massage. Geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
- Lymphatic drainage. A gentle whole body treatment which relaxes the nervous system and aids the body’s immune system
- Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibres that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse. Trigger point massage can assist in decreasing sensations of tightness in the muscles.
- Pregnancy & post-natal massage. Special considerations are used to modify the massage position and take care with certain pressure points in the body. The techniques used in pregnancy massage are used to assist in pain relief, improved mood and it’s rejuvenating ability. Post-natal (after birth) massage is used to decrease any aches & pains and improving feelings of well-being as well as mainly being used in recovery.
Benefits of massage
Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
- Digestive disorders
- High blood pressure
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- subacute/chronic low back pain
- delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
One of the immediate benefits of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm. Levels of stress hormones are also reduced. Studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones impair the immune system.
Some of the physical benefits of massage include:
- reduced muscle tension
- improved circulation
- stimulation of the lymphatic system
- reduction of stress hormones
- increased joint mobility and flexibility
- improved skin tone
- improved recovery of soft tissue injuries
- heightened mental alertness
- reduced anxiety and depression.
Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection.
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.
Massage – special considerations
There are some instances where massage may not be recommended or require special care, or a GP or specialist referral may need to be obtained:
- During pregnancy
- if skin rashes, cuts or infections are present
- if fractures or broken bones are suspected
- if the person has a life threatening illness.
Get in touch with our team at Fit Clinic and ask about how massage can help you best!