Massage therapy has been a key element of the mind-body wellness for thousands of years in almost every culture around the world. In the Western world, massage was once only available at high end spa locations, however, the medical world has recognized the powerful benefits of massage therapy and it is now found as part of a complementary healing process in businesses, clinics, hospitals and chiropractic services. Recognized as part of the CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) treatments, the health benefits of massage therapy as a treatment has been so great that it is now often covered by medical insurance policies.
Massage therapy, by definition, is the process of rubbing, pressing and manipulating the skin, muscles, soft tissues, ligaments and tendons through the use of hands and fingers as well as elbows, forearms and even the feet. There are a variety of types of massage, from light and gentle to deep pressure massage, and each one brings a different level of healing.
The process of massage therapy typically makes use of a natural topical cream that contains some of nature’s own pain reducing ingredients. Scientific studies have shown the manipulation and massage of the body not only creates as sense of relaxation, but also assists the body in generating its own internal healing hormones and chemicals. Massage therapy has been associated in helping many medical situations and conditions, including: digestive disorders, anxiety, headaches, stress-related insomnia, fibromyalgia, soft tissue injuries and strains, myofascial pain syndrome, sports injuries, nerve and paresthesias pain and temporomandibular joint pain.
Depending upon the medical or emotional condition or reason for seeking massage therapy, the therapist may use one of the following more common types of massage techniques:
Swedish massage is the use of gentle, kneading with the use of long strokes, deep circular movements and a combination of tapping and vibration for the purpose of relaxation and to energize the body. This is the most popular choice in massage therapy as it allows the body and mind to enter into a more restorative state.
Deep massage is a technique that employs more forceful strokes in a slow manner to target the deeper layers of connective tissue and muscles. This massage form is often used for injuries due to muscle damage.
Trigger point massage has a focus on tight muscle fibers of the body that can be formed due to overuse or injury. Examples of this might be muscle knots in the upper shoulders or lower back that develop in a tightening manner when people sit at computers for long periods of time.
Sports massage is geared towards those individuals involved in sports activities and is closer to the Swedish massage style. The purpose is to help in the treatment of injuries as well as to assist in prevention of future injuries.
Prior to instituting any massage therapy treatment, always consult with your primary care physician to ensure that your medical condition can tolerate the massage process as well as which massage therapy techniques might be recommended for the best method for your condition.