When people think of massage therapy, they typically picture mud and relaxation from relaxing in the afternoons. However, this is only one aspect of the massage therapy practice. Many other benefits are offered by massage, making it an essential part of any athlete’s regimen. In fact, massage therapy is one of the most popular non-physical therapy treatments used today. If you are in need of treatment for any condition, it is important to see your doctor first to make sure that your condition is treatable with massage therapy.
Massage therapy is the gentle manipulation of the soft tissue throughout the entire body. Many massage techniques are commonly used with the hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, forearms, or even a handheld device. The main objective of massage therapy is usually for the relief of pain or body stress. It has also been shown to help prevent chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis.
In addition to the relief of pain and stiffness, massage therapy relieves tension and helps restore energy flow in the muscles and soft tissue areas affected by conditions such as arthritis. Tension is often caused by a combination of factors such as mental and physical stress, lack of sleep, high levels of anxiety, and insufficient nutrients and hydration. In addition to the soothing effects of pressure, massage releases chemicals in the body that actually help repair damaged tissues and restore the proper balance of chemicals and hormones. This is believed to occur because when the muscle and soft tissue areas are manipulated, the energy flow is reestablished in the affected area and blood flow is increased to the area.
Another benefit of massage therapy is the promotion of healthy nerve function. The muscles and soft tissues become relaxed, allowing blood to flow more freely and oxygen to be carried out more efficiently. Therefore, by reducing tension, massage therapy reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Massage can also relieve headaches, tension, stress, insomnia, muscle spasms, chronic fatigue, and depression. By promoting healthy functioning of both the mind and body, massage therapy relieves the negative effects of stress and helps achieve a sense of well being.
Massage therapy may also relieve some of the pain resulting from conditions such as arthritis. Massage will increase the blood supply to the affected area, promoting increased nutrition and nutrient delivery to the affected tissues. Therapists believe this increased nutrition and nutrient delivery stimulates repair of the affected muscle tissue, easing pain. Massage therapy may even be beneficial for some conditions in which the cause is muscle tension. When muscles are tensed up, the muscles surrounding them become constricted, causing more stress on the joints. Massage therapy may be able to relieve muscle tension and therefore ease the symptoms of arthritis.
Massage therapists also use their hands to apply heat and touch directly on the soft tissue areas that need stimulation. Heat is beneficial when applying to broken bones or tissue that is inflamed. Touching the skin directly by the therapist’s fingertips has been shown to have a soothing effect on the skin. While receiving massages, therapists also rub certain body parts such as the shoulder blades, back, legs, abdomen, and buttocks. To stimulate the different soft tissue areas and improve circulation, therapists rub their hands on the inner thighs and buttocks.
Massage therapy includes myotherapy. Myotherapy is described as the application of pressure, stretching, and holding of soft and hard muscles in order to restore a normal range of motion. Massage therapists commonly use myotherapy techniques including myofascial release, trigger point release, active release, and trigger point therapy. Massage therapists use myotherapy in conjunction with other techniques such as massage, traction, ligament stretching, acupressure, stretching, relaxation, and exercise.
Massage therapy has been shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, tension, and to improve mood and general wellness. In addition to its many health benefits, massage therapy can also provide significant relief from minor injuries. Those suffering from car accidents, sports injuries, and even broken bones, have all reportedly experienced some relief from therapy. If you or someone you know needs treatment to reduce stress, manage anxiety, or relieve pain, consider therapy as part of a comprehensive health regimen.