What is Massage Therapy?
Basically, any technique of manipulating specific points on the skin and muscles can be considered a massage. These methods include traditional techniques that we all think of like rubbing and applying pressure to sore muscles, to more advanced options like acupuncture. In this aspect, the intensity of the pressure does not matter - the idea is to meet specific needs of muscles, tendons and ligaments in general while providing healing.
Though massages do provide relaxation due to the application of the techniques, they have other benefits that vary according to their approaches. Massage therapy can help in the care of diseases and health conditions that need a more intensive treatment than conventional therapies can achieve. In the long run, many people have reported that massages are responsible for helping to treat a number of diseases such as fibrosis, arthritis, eating disorders, as well as alleviating cases of diabetes and dermatitis.
It is important to note that massage will not solve these medical conditions completely, but they work as an excellent way to reassure the body and help sufferers to cope with the pain or anxiety caused by these conditions. In a sense, massage also serves as a complementary form of physical therapy. The health benefits of massage are not limited to the body. The brain, stimulated by the application of pressure at specific points, also receives its benefits directly through the release of well-being hormones.
What Types of Massage are Available?
Since there are so many massage therapy option out there, we will separate them into some groups so that you can decide which type is best for you when it comes to making the most of the benefits.
Modeling Massage - It has a more aesthetic approach. A series of fast and intense movements form a technique for those who want a full body experience. Modeling massage is often used in the treatment of cellulite since the firm pressure can reach deep layers where fat can accumulate. Fans of this massage technique report that it helps reduce the appearance of 'orange peel' or cellulite on the skin. To maintain the benefits, treatments should be applied on a regular basis.
Swedish Massage - This massage technique is probably one you have heard of. It specifically focuses on muscle relaxation, using smoother and more precise movements such as circular strokes to achieve a deep state of relaxation. Swedish Massage can is also known to help with stress, and it is great for twisting and bruising treatments since it can help you regain lost flexibility after an injury.
Ayurvedic Massage - The focus of this type of massage is the joints as well as some of your nearby muscle chains. There is a mix of soft touches with deeper pressures applied with the use of oils to create a sensory experience. People report that this can be an energizing and emotional massage since the heart chakra and 'marma' points are engaged. This is why some report that Ayurvedic massage helps them to clear emotional blockages. This can be a great choice for anyone who exercises often.
Lymphatic Drainage - This is a specific treatment for injuries where precise techniques of gentle pressures are applied to reduce swelling and edema. These technique aims at restoring the lymphatic system and bringing the body back to its original function. In these massages, some report feeling tired or even sick for a few days after since toxins that were built up in the lymphatic system are released. Don't worry, you will feel better than ever within a few days.
Rolfing - a technique aimed at body recovery, and athletic performance. Rolfing can assist in correcting posture and relieving back pain. Here the pressures are applied to the connecting fabrics and make them more dynamic.The correct application will make the whole body more agile and conserve energy, which is great for those who have an active day to day schedule.
Integrative Touch - a type of holistic healing aimed at people in dealing with periods of hospitalization or rehabilitation. This type of massage can help with pain management and prevent muscle atrophy during periods of immobilization or limited mobility. The techniques in this massage are lighter, with circular touches at points that need attention. It is a great way to encourage patients in an important period of their recovery, while providing relaxation and improving mood.
Compassionate Touch - It has an application similar to the integrative touch, but its focus is on the elderly, for terminally ill patients, or those with chronic and irreversible diseases, The touch applied is softer and more sensitive, accompanied by a more empathetic tone from the massage therapist. The intention, rather than relaxation, is to offer a little more encouragement to a group that needs constant care.
Other techniques available include the aforementioned acupuncture, as well as shiatsu, Lomilomi, Katari and a few others. These may be worth researching if you have more specific needs that have not been alleviated, or have not found relief with traditional massage techniques.
Care and Precautions with Massage Therapy
Before seeking out massage therapy, some precautions should be taken. You can not just lay on the massage bed and wait for the professional hands to do their job. Massage therapy requires you to actively engage in achieving wellness. When you look for a massage therapist, make sure of what goal you have in mind and what you hope to achieve through massage therapy. That way you are not disappointed with your therapist and receive the full benefits of your sessions.
Of course, it makes sense to consult you doctor to make sure that massage therapy is right for you. A doctor visit can make sure that massage is the right treatment option, and a medical professional can diagnose your specific symptoms. Pains, of any nature, can be a sign of more serious medical conditions. Knowing how to differentiate them is the first step towards a full recovery - and this is only possible with a visit to the doctor.
Do not self-massage or rely on those people close to you for free therapy. Without proper training, the chance of worsening pain is great, especially if you do not know what is causing the pain. When in doubt, we recommend a doctor visit before seeking massage treatment.
Contraindications - Although massage is accepted as a safe technique for many physical ailments, massage also has its contraindications. Diabetics, for example, should always check their blood sugar levels after to make sure they are stable after a session. Massage effects generated by increased blood circulation can cause some to feel light headed or dizzy, and complicate other more serious medical conditions such as:
1. Heart and renal insufficiency;
2. Blood clots, especially in the legs;
3. Skin diseases that lead to contagion;
4. Hemorrhagic problems;
5. Mental disability;
6. Chronic cases of joint diseases;
In addition, some cases of cancer should be taken into account when massaging, so that the regions affected by the tumor are not stimulated. If you have generalized symptoms of illness, such as fever, more severe pain, or pressure problems, avoid massage until symptoms are controlled and you have visited your doctor.
Have you used massage therapy? Tell us about your massage experience in the comments below.