There is no doubt that a massage feels good and helps you relax. But did you know there is an abundance of clinical research that shows massage does more than pamper? It is, in fact, helpful for a wide variety of health issues.
Many studies, including those from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have found massage to be beneficial for many types of ailments. Here are just a few of the findings:
- Massage can help relieve chronic lower back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Massage therapy for cancer patients may reduce pain, promote relaxation, and boost mood.
- Massage can reduce pain related to sports and muscular injuries, headaches, and temporomandibular
joint disorder (TMJD).
- Massage is also helpful in improving circulation of the hands, arms, legs, and feet (peripheral circulation) for those with diabetes.
MORE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
In another recent study, it was discovered that six weeks of therapeutic massage in older adults can help improve balance, posture, and the cardiovascular system.
As reported to the American Massage Therapy Association online, “[The study] suggests that regular massage may produce physiological changes that contribute to improved balance and postural control,” states Dr. Jo Ellen Sefton, director of the Neuromechanics Research Laboratory at Auburn University. “This may be a way to decrease falls in older adults.”
You can find the full research report online at PubMed Central®, a free, full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature from the NIH’s National Library of Medicine.
FINDING AN EXCELLENT MASSAGE THERAPIST
Look for a massage therapist who has had at least 500 hours of training, participates in continuing education, and is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. Most states require a massage therapist to be licensed and certified.
Experienced massage therapists often incorporate various different techniques during a session. They may also specialize in different types of massage (e.g., sports, lymphatic drainage) or serve particular health needs, such as cancer patients or diabetics. Be sure to ask your massage therapist about his or her expertise and experience.
YOUR FIRST MASSAGE SESSION
Your therapist should ask you about your health, overall wellness goals, and anything that’s bothering you now. They will also want to know about your medical history and your current physical condition, lifestyle, and stress levels.
The massage therapist will leave the room as you undress and cover yourself with a sheet. Your massage therapist will only uncover the part of the body they are working on. Soft relaxing music often accompanies a session. If you don’t like the music or the temperature of the room, say so. The goal is to help you relax.
Massage therapists work on muscles and other soft tissues of the body using their hands and sometimes their forearms and elbows. This helps stimulate blood flow, relax tight muscles, and release tension. Usually a massage cream or oil will be used to decrease friction across the
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MASSAGE
A massage is meant to feel good. A skillful therapist should be able to sense just how much pressure is enough. Sometimes it may be a bit uncomfortable until a muscle relaxes (especially in trigger point technique), but it should never be teeth-grinding painful. Communication is a must. You should tell your therapist if you want more or less pressure and, likewise, your therapist should be asking you how it feels.
At the end of the session, the massage therapist will leave the room. It’s common to relax for another 5-10 minutes before you dress again. Sometimes you might be a little sore after a session. Mostly you’ll feel deeply relaxed. Try not to schedule anything that requires much physical or mental exertion afterward. You want to stay in that relaxed state for as long as possible.
If you thought massage was just for relaxation, now you know there are many health benefits of this hands-on work. From arthritis to depression, insomnia to diabetes, and even balance, massage can help you feel better quickly. Ask your us how massage therapy can help you recover from injury and rejuvenate your overall well-being.
Have you suffered an injury or been struggling with pain?
Did you know you can go see a FYZICAL therapist (for free!) to see what’s wrong and put together a plan of action to heal… before seeing a doctor? That’s what we call FYZICAL First.