What is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is a form of treatment in which the therapist combines gentle pressure and hand strokes to loosen up and release tension that causes pain. The massage therapy profession in Arizona and most other states requires licensure, continued education and proficiency in treating patients for most common conditions.
Massage therapy can benefit you as a complement to your current treatments with physicians, surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, and even psychiatrists and psychologists.
How can it help you?
Back pain, neck pain, headaches, and the injuries caused by accidents are among some of the greatest reasons people seek out professional massage. Therapeutic massage can help anyone, at any age and ability. It relieves pain in joints, muscles, and tense areas of the body. It has been used for thousands of years in different systems of ancient medicine, with roots in Greek and Chinese medicine.
Massage is a safe, non-pharmaceutical way to feel less pain, and lasting relief from stress, depression, cancer, and even troubled digestion. Most of us have an idea of what a massage is.
Can it really help your health?
Whether it’s to address an acute sprain or strain, an aching lower back, or an old injury still causing you issues, working with a qualified, professional massage therapist can have many immediate and long-lasting benefits. Most people who receive regular massages report decreased pain, decreased stress, increased energy, and an increase in health and well-being.
Massage is an excellent way to help our bodies naturally heal. We live in a world that never slows down, and sometimes we aren’t able to take great care of our bodies. Chronic pain and stress can effect everything from our skin to our digestion and immunity. This is why massage therapy can be an essential part of your health and well-being.
What Is a Treatment Like?
Well-Trained massage therapists have structured steps they will take to unwind the patterns of tension in the body. They use several different manual techniques, combining gentle pressure and deeper pressure to targeted areas, to help loosen up tense joints and sore muscles.
Treatments are customized to your particular complaint, and can include fully-clothed or partially-draped techniques. A massage therapist’s goal is to keep you comfortable, and provide the best technique needed. When necessary, an oil or lotion might be used to work with the skin and muscles.
Your massage therapist will use their hands to apply massage techniques; they may also use their forearms or elbows for better pressure. The patient may be asked to move their limbs or head in a direction to help guide the treatment. Each movement or stroke the therapist makes is gentle but deliberate. The patient’s goal is to keep breathing, and relaxing, letting the therapist guide the stretches and movements.
Most importantly, your treatment will be best suited to your needs, based on the goals you discuss with your massage therapist.
Sometimes a few gentle stretches may be advised in-between your appointments, and these are given to help keep the effects of the massage longer, and encourage the new balance your body has found. In the best cases, booking yourself a regular massage can pay off in years of increased mobility, greater comfort in your body, and countless dollars on costly pain medication.
What to expect after your massage
Many massage therapists have structured steps they will take to unwind the patterns of tension in the body. Over the course of the treatment, you’ll notice immediate change in your pain level.
You may be sore the next day, as your body detoxifies from the treatment. This is “therapeutic pain.” Muscles that haven’t been moved in some ways will tend to give signals that they are in distress – this can show up as muscle soreness and fatigue, one or two days after treatment. This is usually a normal degree of soreness, severe pain is not typical.
Multiple treatments are recommended by your therapist to get the best results. As one area of the body starts to feel better, awareness of pain in other parts of the body is possible. This is something your body does to control your levels of pain – you may be hurting in more areas than you realize! We call this “body-awareness,” and as you receive more treatments and get more relief, you’ll find that massage can benefit more than just the areas of the body where treatments are focused.
Your knee pain may be greatly helped by the work done in your lower back!
Massage is Widely used for
- Low Back Pain,
- Weak, tight, or atrophied muscles
- Chronic Neck Pain
- Fibromyalgia, Spasms, Cramping
- Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Cardiac conditions
- Inflammation, Scars, Stretch marks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sports Recovery
- Injury and Acute Sprains/Strains
- Post-Surgery Adhesions/Swelling
- Auto-accident injuries
- Correct postural alignment
- General pain relief
- Improving physical action
- Decreasing tension and stress
- Improving awareness and mental outlook
The Chronic Pain Epidemic
Chronic pain affects more Americans than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. These days, we’ve all heard about the costly and harmful side-effects that come along with prescription medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) and prescription pain relievers take their toll on our bodies.
Side effects of pain medication cause imbalances in the body, including drowsiness, constipation, mood swings, cravings and withdrawals; this can create a great strain on your body at a time when you need healing most. Therapeutic massage is a great option if you are suffering from chronic pain.
It’s no wonder then that Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a growing industry, as people turn to safer ways of treating dis-ease. CAM is planting a strong foothold in the medical industry, and gaining ground.The Journal of Aging and Health reports that “massage use is higher and drug use is lower in today’s older adult population.” Various types of CAM include Therapeutic Massage, Acupuncture, Nutrition, Herbalism,and Naturopathic medicine. Also included in CAM are the medical systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.
Is massage right for you?
The best way to know if massage is right for you is to try it out. There are countless ways that massage can be applied to aid the body in its healing. If you find that it doesn’t work well for you with one therapist, there is another therapist out there with the right touch, or different techniques. Sometimes, if there is a small, acute issue, like a strained neck muscle, the relief may last after just one treatment.
However it’s not rare that a more chronic pain problem may take several treatments for the body to find its new balance in a less painful state. It may take a few sessions, but in time your body will find and gain strength in new areas as you loosen up.
How to get the most out of your massage.
Massage works most effectively when combined with attention to nutrition and exercise. As we know, the food we eat becomes the tissues in our bodies; over time, poor nutrition can have damaging effects. But like most guilty pleasures, food is an enjoyment for the senses, and controlling everything we eat can be a real challenge!
The most important thing to remember about massage is that long-lasting relief for chronic pain is best achieved with commitment and perseverance from the patient.
If you give attention to your nutrition and combine that with regular massage and daily stretching, you can reasonably expect that your pain, stress, and overall health and well-being will benefit. But work within your own boundaries. Massage therapists are typically drawn to the field because they are caring, professional people; you will find that most are willing to work with you at whatever level you are on, and within your comfort zone.
A good relationship with your massage therapist can create a powerful ally in your journey toward health, and a trusting environment for you to heal.
Have you or a loved one benefitted from multiple sessions of Massage Therapy? We want to hear your story!
SR Knauer, JK Freburger, TS Carey: “Chronic Low Back Pain Among Older Adults: A Population-Based Perspective,” Journal of Aging Health
Article Written By: Kelly Ashe