Massage is the use of the hands to manipulate the soft tissue of the body to reduce muscle tension, maintain flexibility and improve circulation. Massage is especially effective in breaking compensatory pain postures and patterns. For example, a tension headache is often self-sustaining because the pain makes the person clench the affected muscles even harder, which, in turn, creates more pain. A thorough neck and shoulder massage can reduce muscle tension and break the pain cycle.
The Benefits Of Massage
One of the immediate benefits of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm. This occurs because massage prompts the release of endorphins – the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of wellbeing. Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are also reduced. Studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones impair the immune system.
What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:
Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
Increase joint movements and flexibility.
Lessen depression and anxiety.
Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
Reduce post surgery adhesions and swelling.
Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
Relieves muscular tightness and pain, neck and shoulder tension, muscle spasm and cramps.
Assists in the management and prevention of headaches and migraines.
Helps in the elimination of waste and toxins.
Assists with injury prevention, rehabilitation and recovery.
Facilitates muscle imbalance and posture realignment.
Ease medication dependence.
A Powerful Ally
There’s no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:
Enhanced sleep quality.
Furthermore, clients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:
Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
Preterm infants have improved weight gain.
Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles.
Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits
Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.
Massage for Treatment of some Disorders
Modern studies have shown that massage can be used to successfully treat a variety of disorders, including:
Remedial massage – a form of physical therapy used to treat or prevent soft tissue pain and restricted joint movement caused by muscle or myofascial dysfunction. It is used for chronic musculoskeletal conditions, postural conditions, sporting and occupational injuries by method of assessment and treatment protocols – encourages healing of injured soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments
Therapeutic or relaxation– also known as ‘Western’ or ‘Swedish’ massage. One of the most popular forms of massage in Australia, this technique is designed to promote relaxation and improve blood circulation
Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST) -an advanced and quicker form of the Bowen Technique.NST consists of cross fibre connective tissue manipulation. Gentle, soft tissue movements stimulate ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and fascia. It is designed to remove pain, physiological dysfunction and even psychological imbalances, by restoring the structural integrity of the body.
Baby massage – can help to treat constipation, colic and sleeping problems. Studies have found that regular massage helps premature babies to gain weight at a faster rate
Reflexology – based on the principle that certain parts of the body reflect the whole. Reflex points, which relate to all parts of the body, can be found in the feet, hands, face and ears. These points respond to pressure, stimulating the body’s own natural healing process
Tui na – A Chinese massage technique that aims to improve energy flow by working certain points on the body. The underlying principles of tui na massage are similar to those of acupuncture
Sports – a blend of techniques that aim to enhance performance and help overworked muscles to recover quickly.
Things to Remember
Studies have shown that massage is effective in treating a range of conditions.
Massage improves circulation, reduces muscle tension and encourages a feeling of relaxation.
There are many different types of massage to choose from.