Massage TherapyAuthor: Massage Heights
When experiencing tension, stress, or pain, a skilled touch might be the perfect option to find relief. Massage- a general term for a combination of rubbing, manipulating, and pressing your muscles and skin — has existed across cultures for many years as a method for pain relief, relaxation, and healing.
In the present, massage is accepted more often alongside other standard treatments for medical needs and conditions. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recognizes the value of massage therapy and based on the understanding of its benefits has spent time introducing massage to hospital settings.
While a massage can relax you, this type of therapy is not considered a cure-all. In fact, if massage is performed incorrectly, it can cause your body harm. It’s important to take time to learn about massage therapy before you schedule an appointment for yourself. Educating yourself on its benefits and risks will ensure a healthy and safe experience.
How Does Massage Provide Benefits?
To start, massage allows muscles and tissues to experience manipulation in a safe and focused way. This type of manipulation of skin and muscle can alleviate pain, re-align the body and positively impact posture.
Massage is also typically performed in a positive and relaxing environment that involves a calm space, aromatherapy to supplement relaxation and relieve symptoms, quiet music, and other items like soft linens, and plants to encourage healthy, positive thoughts.
Studies and research have found that those who participate in massage therapy report an improvement in their well-being and often experience a decrease in stress and cortisol levels.
Beyond its ability to target specific needs and address health concerns, people schedule massages because it represents self-care, helps them feel empowered, and gives them a chance to connect with an expert who can help them pursue wellness.
Keep in mind that despite its many benefits, massage therapy is not a substitute for medical care. When starting massage therapy, be sure to inform your doctor and make sure to keep up with all of your medical treatment plans.
What Has Research Found?
Not only does massage reduce the body’s tension and pain, research has found that massage has the ability to release endorphins, slow elevated heart rate, and can potentially provide positive effects for the immune system. Other areas of benefit include:
Massage has the ability to address chronic pain in the low back area, neck kinks, pain from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, pain caused by scar tissue, and assist in recovery from open-heart surgery and severe burns.
Fibromyalgia has long been a special interest of study for massage therapy. If massage therapy is used consistently over an extended period of time it can aid in pain management and help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Since massage therapy has been shown to lower blood pressure and help people manage stress, it may support preventative measures taken to improve heart health. Additionally, massage can help relieve pain after heart surgery.
Mental health and wellness
Because massage therapy offers stress relief it can provide positive benefits for those who struggle with mental health conditions like anxiety, and depression. Massage therapy’s mood and energy-boosting effects can also provide support in coping with seasonal affective disorder.
A very skilled massage therapist has the ability to reduce pain and encourage relaxation and quality sleep for cancer patients. Remember, it’s important to work with a massage therapist who understands the necessary precautions needed when assisting a cancer patient.
In addition to treating the aches and pains of an aging body, researchers have learned that regular massage promotes stability and may lessen the severity of high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and dementia.
Does Massage Pose Any Risks?
A majority of people can benefit from massage, but it is not always an appropriate therapy for everyone. Those who have recently suffered a heart attack, have disorders related to bleeding, or need to take blood-thinning medication, should first consult with a doctor before starting massage therapy. If you have recently experienced a blood clot, severe burns, or extreme osteoporosis, massage may cause more harm. Massage should not be used as a direct form of treatment for tumors, and those with open wounds, wounds in the process of healing, or nerve damage should not have pressure applied to affected areas. Remember that while you may experience slight soreness the next day, massage should not cause significant pain during your experience. If your massage therapist is applying too much pressure, ask them for a lighter amount.