There are a myriad number of reasons why people get massages. Some get massages because they are seeking pain relief, others get them because they want to reduce and alleviate their stress, while yet other massage seekers are looking for some quality “me” time. Many people enjoy a good rub down no matter why it is they are getting one. Still, massage therapy is more than a twist here and a turn there. This treatment is based on science, is safest when performed by trained therapists, and can add to one’s quality of life.
While there are many types of massage therapy, they can all be described as a method in which kneading pressing, and manipulating muscles and their connective tissue provide comfort and relief. Massage therapists vary the pressure they use as well as the techniques they employ, depending on the type of massage therapy they are asked to provide. No matter their training or therapeutic approach, all types of massage should be used with the intent to help the client feel better physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Types of Massage
Though all types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of types of massage therapy share common goals, each method and the reasons behind them depend on the client’s presenting symptoms and their individual therapeutic needs. Because every body is different and responds to massage in their own unique ways, a variety of techniques and schools of thought have developed.
Often referred to as “classic massage,” the Swedish method uses broad strokes, deep muscle stimulation, and kneading. This method aims to encourage blood flow around areas affected by the presenting pain. This increased blood flow helps to stimulate healing as well as relax the muscles that tightened your musculature in the first place.
Deep Tissue Massage
Though similar to Swedish massage, deep tissue massage is more forceful and aggressive, as it aims to get into and under the layers of connective tissue and muscle in order to help treat muscle damage. Strong pressure is used to rub out tension knots and can be painful depending on the depth of the affected area.
This technique looks much like the classic, Swedish method, but relates specifically to those involved in sports.
Used as a way to set off the pain in overused muscles, trigger therapy is designed to release pent up tension by practically forcing it out of the body. It is not for the faint of heart!
In this method, joints and spinal vertebrae are massaged and manipulated, so as to increase flexibility, mobility, and proper posture.
Connective Tissue Massage
The rationale behind this therapy supports the premise that massaging connective structures will have a positive, healing influence. In turn, this type of therapy is said to relieve stress in the affected organs and throughout the body.
The periosteum, the thin layer of tissue that wraps all of our bones contains a plethora of blood vessels and nerves. This type of massage therapy is meant to relieve the pressure and pain that sits in this tissue.
Determining what type of massage therapy you want and need is up to you, your medical practitioner, and your medical conditions. Additionally, some individuals prefer light touch while others, benefit greatly from a heavy handed massage therapist. Your preferences, in addition to your health, should inform the massage therapy you choose.
Therapeutic Massage and Medical Diagnoses
Massages are a great way to connect with your body, particularly when dealing with certain medical conditions. Whether these conditions are acute or chronic should be factored into the type of treatment provided. The levels of pain and discomfort experienced must also be considered, as these will further determine your plan of care. Though additional research is necessary to solidify the reasons massage helps individuals faced with certain diagnoses, there is a good deal of supportive, sound data already on the books.
Massage therapy is most often sought by individuals with chronic pain, no matter the source or cause. Based on research conducted between 2008 and 2012 by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIM), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), massage therapy was found useful in the treatment of chronic neck and lower back pain. Pain caused by osteoarthritis, a degenerative, progressive condition involving the destruction of bone cartilage, has responded well to massage therapy, too. And though there is a need for more studies, massage for pregnant women as well as those in labor, has also provided pain relief.
Individuals with anxiety often feel stress and tension in their shoulders as well as the rest of their bodies. Emotional pain can create a perfect storm, if you will, for physical pain that leads many to seek relief. While some choose to find that relief in addictions to food, drugs, or alcohol, massage therapy is a far more productive coping mechanism. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, and malaise can affect not only one’s mood, but the ability and desire to function adaptively. With massage therapy however, it appears that a reduction in feelings of depression and other comorbid states, such as anxiety, is possible.
A 2010 study conducted by the NIH’s NCCIM division determined that massage therapy may encourage increased states of relaxation in the elderly. Another clinical study conducted in 2010 found that massage therapy supported individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). However, the results of this study proved quite similar to those who were taught deep breathing exercises and provided calming environments. The upshot to these results is that, at the very least, massage therapy did not worsen their conditions.
What to Consider Before Scheduling a Massage Therapy Session
Despite the obvious benefits of massage therapy, there are individuals for whom treatment is contraindicated. People with bleeding disorders, blood clots, or using blood thinners, should exercise caution before scheduling a massage. Massage therapy can exacerbate pain and inflammation, as well as interfere with the healing of certain types of wounds and burns, too. Lastly, massages near or on fracture sites can prove very dangerous.
While an occasional massage between friends may feel good, the risk of physical harm and damage caused by the untrained, non licensed, or inexperienced, increases dramatically. Like any other medical treatment, massage therapy should be considered a healing modality that has the power to help, and if used irresponsibly, the power to harm.
The Benefits of Massage Therapy Await
Dr. Shahen Kurestian, DC of Body Systems Wellness and Integrated Medicine in Glendale, California, shares his patients’ convictions to quality medical care. Because massage therapy can prove dangerous when provided by untrained practitioners, Dr. Kuestian and his team work with professionals and methods that ensure both the health and welfare of the public he serves. Massage therapy can be conducted with or in addition to Body Systems’ chiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropracticchiropractic services, all of which are safely providing by experienced specialists.
Contact Body Systems Wellness for a free consultation, so you can experience the benefits of massage therapy for yourself.