Massage therapy has been used for thousands of years, originating in China in 2700 B.C. This form of treatment is one of the most common forms of holistic medicine practiced today. Some may view massage as a luxury service. Massage therapy is becoming more accepted as a form of preventative care and non-invasive medical treatment. Let's discuss what massage therapy can do for you and your health, what type of massage is right for you, and what information you need to know next time you schedule your massage.
How is massage beneficial to your health? Massage is non-invasive and has minimal side effects. It has both mental and physical benefits. Physically, massage can decrease chronic pain, improve range of motion, improve the immune system, improve work-out recovery time, reduce swelling, decrease scar tissue post-surgery, and so much more. Mentally, massage therapy reduces anxiety, improves depression, and helps with post-traumatic stress disorder. Massage therapy is an excellent option for treating multiple diagnoses, including fibromyalgia, back pain, neck pain, headaches, auto-immune disease, diabetes, hypertension, post-surgical intervention, to name a few. Trying to decide what type of massage is right for you can be overwhelming. Most services are add-ons and can get confusing and expensive. Let's review some common massage modalities:
Swedish massage: If you are looking for an excellent way to relax, Swedish massage is for you. Generally, Swedish massage is light pressure, but you can request firm or gentle pressure. It uses long fluid strokes to increase your lymph and blood flow and leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Deep Tissue massage: Deep tissue massage is used for musculoskeletal injuries. It uses deep, sustained pressure working on muscle knots, sprains, and strains in deeper layers of muscle tissue. While deep tissue massage and Swedish massage use many of the same strokes, the intention is different. This modality can be uncomfortable but should not be painful.
Myofascial Release: This style of massage works with gentle pressure focusing on the connective tissue layer of muscle. This type of stroke feels like a deep stretch of the fascial layer of tissue. This modality is excellent for post-surgical treatments, postural abnormalities, chronic pain, or fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Medical Massage: This type of massage is not a precise technique. Medical massage is typically a treatment with multiple styles of massage incorporated together to treat a specific diagnosis or condition. Sometimes it is completed by a medical professional that is dual-licensed.
Chair massage: Chair massage is a style of massage that requires you to sit in a chair and remain fully clothed. It is typically shorter in duration but great for those just needing a quick pick me up.
Thai massage: This type of massage stretches your body from head to toe. It is a great way to relieve muscle tension and improve range of motion.
Shiatsu, Acupressure, Reflexology: These modalities include placing pressure on specific points on the hands, feet, and body. These specific points are energetically connected to organs in the body. Placing pressure on these points helps balance the nervous system and provides relaxation.
Each massage therapist has their own style of treatment. Massage therapy is not a one-size-fits-all. Not all therapists will be able to offer you the same treatments. It is dependent on additional training and certifications by each therapist. Talking to your therapist is the key to receiving your best treatment.
If you have not tried massage therapy before, here are some tips to get the most out of your treatment sessions. First and foremost, do not be afraid to tell your therapist your needs. Let your therapist know if the pressure is too firm, too light, the table warmer is too warm, etc. This is your appointment and you can be honest with your treating therapist. The therapist will ask you to undress down to your comfort level; what does this mean? You can leave whatever clothing on that makes you feel safe and secure. Feeling safe is an essential part of your massage. Your massage therapist can work on most areas of the body. Each state has differing restrictions on which body parts can be worked on, dependent on the therapist's training. A standard massage can include your head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, glutes, legs, and feet. You can pick and choose which areas you would like additional attention to and which areas to avoid. Remember, this is your massage, you choose! Be sure to drink plenty of water after your massage. You will want to hydrate and flush out your body. You may be sore up to 48 hours after your massage. This is entirely normal. Drinking water can decrease the amount of soreness you experience. How often should you have a massage? This is also subjective and dependent on your goals. Sometimes it is appropriate to make weekly appointments at the beginning of your treatment and then spread out to monthly appointments.
Massage therapy can be a great compliment to many other modalities. Massage pairs great with physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and more. The best way to get the most healing out of your treatments is to keep an open dialogue with your whole team. This ensures that your team is working together for you and your health. Wellness 360 Is a great place to start. We offer massage therapy and Physical therapy in one location. This ensures there is open communication toward your treatment goals. For more information, check us out at www.wellness360fitness.com.