What comes to mind when you think of massage? Perhaps you associate a massage with a spa day, sports therapy, or an hour to relax in the midst of your hectic schedule. While those are excellent reasons for massage, it has many benefits beyond relaxation and soothing overworked muscles. Research shows that massage is an important component of treatment plans for chronic pain management, behavioral health treatment, and rehabilitation of injury, surgery and physical training. It is even effective for acute medical treatment in the areas of cancer management, post-operative pain, lifestyle diseases, and maternity and newborn care (1).
While massage therapy has long been considered an essential element of self-care, it is increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for many medical conditions. Since research has provided significant evidence that massage assists in healing and wellness, more insurance companies are covering the cost in a wider assortment of situations.
What are the benefits of Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy manipulates your soft tissue, which includes skin, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. There are more than 80 kinds of massage therapy which have been developed all over the world. While each type has its own technique, they all share a common purpose of relaxing tissue, decreasing pain, and increasing the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the area being massaged.
The American Massage Therapy Association has gathered extensive data on the results of peer-reviewed, published studies on the impact of massage therapy in a variety of conditions and situations. Chronic pain, surgical pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Oncology care, low back pain, burn scars, cardiovascular health, and improved mood and sleep are a few of the areas proven to benefit by massage therapy. It is also useful in eliminating toxins, enhancing immunity, and reducing swelling after an injury or surgery.
According to the Mayo Clinic, massage is recognized to reduce stress, pain, and muscle tension. They also state it may be helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains or injuries, sports injuries, and temporomandibular joint pain.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that massage also facilitates muscle recovery after exercise. After four days of exercise followed by massage, massaged muscles recovered approximately 60 percent of strength compared to only 14 percent in muscles that received rest after the exercise. The muscles that received a massage also had fewer damaged muscle fibers and almost no sign of white blood cells, which indicate that the body is working to repair muscle damage.
Why are there so many types of massage and which is best?
Certain types of massage have specific benefits. Pregnancy massage is one example. Pregnancy massage helps a woman’s body adapt to the major changes and stressors it goes through. It helps reduce swelling and relieves muscle and joint pain. It can reduce anxiety and depression, and many women experience improved labor outcomes and health of the newborn.
Most massage modalities are not that specific but are more effective in promoting wellness or healing specific types of injuries or conditions than others. For example, there is a distinct difference between deep tissue massage and Swedish massage. Deep tissue massage targets the inner layer of muscle and connective tissue and is excellent for treating muscle and tendon injuries and breaking up scar tissue. On the other hand, Swedish massage is much gentler and reduces muscle tension from everyday activities, while helping you relax physically and mentally.
There is not one best massage modality since each person is unique and has different needs. Therefore, we offer a broad range of massage modalities at TCIM including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Table Thai, Lymphatic Drainage, Oncology Massage, Cupping Therapy, Trigger Point, Reflexolo