Getting massages isn’t just a luxury thing, my friend. Did you know there are real medical benefits of massage therapy? It’s true! Some of them might even surprise you.
I have been a licensed massage therapist since 2007. In all this time I’m still being amazed at what massage can do for the body. There are easily 100 different recognized massage techniques throughout the world, making them perfect for everyone to have a little something that works for them.
Once upon a time, massage was mainly limited to resorts and spas. But now, it’s offered everywhere including:
- Chiropractors Offices
- Wellness Centers
- Some Yoga Studios
- Private Practices
- Nursing Homes
- Large Massage Chains
- Many Corporate and Smaller Offices
What is Massage?
Massage is the all inclusive term for a hands on technique used to manipulate muscles, skin, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. Pressures vary, ranging from the lightest touch to heavy pressure and can also include stretching and various tools.
The medical benefits of massage therapy has been touted for centuries as complimentary and alternative medicine. Some records show that the earliest known recorded use of massage dates back to 3000 BC in China. Although, it is hard to say exactly what the accurate history of massage is, because it is so old.
Massage techniques can help treat and alleviate symptoms many many conditions. While there are many types, the names for many of the massage techniques are given in reference to what condition or philosophy they work with. This will help you figure out what kind you need.
It is important to know, when dealing with your health, that you are working with a licensed massage professional. There are certain states and countries that do not require by law that a therapist is formally licensed. Within the US, it is your right to request to see proof of a therapist’s license.
Please remember, while licensed massage therapists are considered medical professionals, most are not doctors. They cannot diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, or claim to cure any condition unless they hold other kinds of medical licenses that allow those claims (which is rare).
Massage Techniques and Medical Benefits of Massage Therapy
There are easily 100 different kinds of massage techniques in practice today. Here are some of the most popular options that you might be presented with.
The standard kind of massage. Pressure ranges from light to heavy. It uses a variety of strokes including long, smooth strokes, kneading, and percussive strokes. These movements help to:
- improve circulation
- relax the body
- aid in pain management
Deep Tissue is a slower, deeper, massage that is used to get into the deeper layers of tissue including fascia and connective tissues. *please note, this kind of massage does not mean getting your therapist to press so hard that they are scraping your bones. That request is more common that you think and can cause more harm that good. More pressure does not always equal more benefit.** Deep Tissue Massage helps to:
- Treat muscle injuries
- Break up scar tissue
- aid in pain management
- treat fascitis
- Treat chronic back pain
Prenatal, Induction, and Postnatal Massage
Prenatal, Induction, and Postnatal massage is specifically designed to help pregnant women and women recovering from child birth. Light to medium techniques are used to work with, or around, acupuncture meridians (depending on the intention of the massage) to benefit pregnancy and recovery. This kind of massage helps to:
- aid in pain management for muscles, joint, and ligament pain
- lowering blood pressure and anxiety
- improving circulation
- some report easier and shorter labor and delivery (yes please!)
- reduce insomnia
Reflexology is a pressure point massage focusing mainly on the feet but can also involve the hands. It makes use of Chinese meridians to heal all areas of the body. It has been proven useful in treating:
- Detoxing the whole body
- Improved nerve function
- Ease side effect of cancer treatment
Trigger Point and Acupressure
These massages focus on different things but work in a similar way. Trigger Point Therapy focuses on releasing muscle and adhesions with the goal of eliminating the original source of pain. Acupressure, which is the same as “Shiatsu” focuses on releasing blocked energy centers utilizing Chinese energy meridians. Both therapies can treat the full spectrum of bodily ailments.
*Tip* Ask your therapist if they offer aromatherapy! It’s an amazing way to boost the relaxation and healing power of your treatment.
Other Kinds Of Massage
The following massages are more specific to a type of ailment or cultural philosophy. Many, while very popular, might not be available at your local massage chain as they are more specialized.
- Sport Massage
- Lymphatic Draintage
- Thai massage
- Myofascial Release
- Oncology Massage (Used in cancer treatment)
- Mayan Massage
- Hot Stone Therapy
- Cold Stone Massage
- Ashiatsu (That’s the one where the therapist walks on your back)
- Pet Massage (for your furry friends)
- Ayurvedic Massage
- Craniosacral Therapy
- and more……
The medical benefits of massage therapy has been researched and proven on a regular basis. It’s unanimous that massage therapy can make an excellent complimentary and preventative treatment for many health issues. Make it a regular part of your health routine and see the benefits immediately!