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The benefits of massage therapy aren’t all about pain relief. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that massage therapy was reserved for members at high-end spas and luxury health clubs. Today, almost anyone can book a massage therapy appointment — and reap the benefits it has to offer.
In this article, we’re diving into everything massage therapy. From what massage therapy is to the benefits, we’re not leaving any stone unturned. Let’s get straight to it.
What is Massage Therapy?
The history of massage therapy dates as far back as 3000 BCE. In India, massage therapy was used as part of their healing system called Ayurveda.
During this time, it was thought that massage restored balance to the body, which allowed healing to take place.
While not far off from the truth, the Chinese, Egyptians, Japanese, Romans, and Greeks further refined massage therapy. Eventually, all of these practices came together and led to what we know as modern massage therapy today. And science has continued to prove the benefits of massage therapy time and time again.
So, what is massage therapy exactly?
Generally, massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues using various techniques, such as kneading, stroking, and more.
There are many different types of massage therapy. Some common ones include deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, pregnancy massage, and Swedish massage. Usually, these different types of massage use different techniques to achieve varying outcomes.
For example, hot stone massage therapy uses hot stones placed on specific body parts to help you relax and to help heal damaged tissues. In contrast, a Swedish massage involves long kneading strokes with the primary goal of relaxation.
We’ll take a look at these outcomes (also known as benefits) later in this article. Before we do that, let’s take a brief look at what it means to be a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT).
What is a Registered Massage Therapist?
A Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) has undergone a two to three-year (2200 hours) college massage therapy degree from an accredited institution. An RMT has further completed any necessary testing or training to hold this title.
Many RMTs also undergo continued education to further their practice and technique over the years. It’s very important to ensure when you book a massage that your appointment is with a Registered Massage Therapist. This means you’re getting someone who is trained and qualified — and knows what they are doing.
Becoming a Certified Massage Therapist
As previously mentioned, to become a certified massage therapist, you must attend a two to a three-year program that is accredited. Upon graduation, in Manitoba, you automatically become an RMT.
However, Manitoba is in the process of regulating this profession. It’s been approved to do so, and currently, the Government of Manitoba is working to finalize the legislation involved in this process. More to come on this very soon!
The Benefits of an RMT Massage
So, what are the scientific benefits of massage? What else can it do for you, your body, and your mind besides provide pain relief?
While the benefits of a deep tissue massage might differ from the benefits of a hot stone massage, generally, most of the benefits overlap. If you’re looking for a specific benefit, it is likely worthwhile to mention this when booking your appointment. The massage therapist or administrative staff can direct you on which massage therapy type is best for you and your situation.
Now, let’s dive into the benefits! What can you expect?
1. It May Help You Relax.
Along with pain, you’ve likely heard that massage is a wonderful way to relax and de-stress. Had a tough week? A massage might help! Feeling stressed about work? A massage can also help.
Research indicates that massage therapy can help reduce perceived stress levels. When it comes to reduced cortisol levels, there’s talk about this. Yet, more research is needed to solidify these claims.
However, one study did record salivary cortisol levels in individuals before and after a chair massage. The individuals who received a massage had lower salivary cortisol levels afterward, indicating decreased stress.
Further, if you ask almost anyone that has undergone a massage, they will likely happily tell you that they felt much more relaxed afterward.
2. It May Improve Your Sleep.
A massage performed by a Registered Massage Therapist might also be just what you need to get a goodnight’s rest. Sleep is of the utmost importance for overall good health and functioning.
A study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies demonstrated how patients with lower back pain had less sleep disturbance following massage therapy treatment.
Another study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology also showed that patients had increased sleep hours and decreased sleep movement after massage therapy.
How does massage do this? Since massage helps alleviate pain and stress, it can help a person avoid sleep disruption caused by these entities. In other words, it can help you relax, giving way to your best sleep yet.
3. It May Help Ease Anxiety and Depression.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, your doctor may have recommended massage therapy as part of your treatment plan. Along with medications or other types of therapy, massage can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. And there’s research to back this up!
In 2012, researchers found that a combination of yoga and massage led to decreased prenatal depression.
A study in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice uncovered that a 20-minute massage not only decreased pain but also decreased anxiety and tension in postoperative cardiac patients.
There are also many more studies than this indicating the benefits that massage therapy can have for those that experience anxiety and depression.
4. It May Relieve Headaches.
If you experience frequent headaches, you might also want to consider massage. Muscular tension can actually cause headaches. Yet, massage can help relieve muscular tension, which may mean you’ll experience fewer headaches.
In fact, research demonstrates that participants experienced more headache-free days after two 30-minute massages each week for five weeks.
Massage may also reduce migraines. In another study, participants showed improvements in migraine frequency and sleep with regular massage therapy. Thus, if you have frequent headaches or migraines, massage therapy might be worth a shot.
5. It May Improve Flexibility and Mobility.
Massage therapy has the ability to reduce muscular tension. For instance, after injury, scar tissue build-up is common. This scar tissue can cause tissues to stick to one another. In turn, this may result in decreased flexibility and mobility.
Massage therapy techniques ‘unstick’ these tissues. They also lengthen and elongate the muscles, as well as increase circulation (we’ll talk more about this below). This increases flexibility and range of motion, allowing you to become more mobile. In fact, many individuals report decreased stiffness after massage for this very reason.
6. It May Enhance Blood Circulation.
Increased blood circulation is another benefit that massage offers. This happens as a result of the pressure your massage therapist applies. Due to this pressure, blood flows into tissues and areas that may have been receiving poor blood circulation previously. This also removes toxins and lactic acid build-up in areas, helping your body recover faster.
This further helps your body heal properly. With improved blood flow to affected areas, the cells that your body requires to heal and recover flood the area. And this leads us right into the next benefit.
7. It May Improve Your Immunity.
This benefit is more of an indirect cause. Individuals who experience less stress are less vulnerable to disease, illness, or injury than those who have high amounts of stress.
And yet again, research proves this!
In one study, massage was shown to increase various factors relating to improved immune function. In other words, having a regular massage session can potentially help you thwart that next cold or flu.
How Often Should I Get a Massage?
It is possible to get a massage too much. Your body needs time to recover. Generally, we recommend going no more than once a week.
Usually, you and your massage therapist will determine the best frequency for you and your situation. Sometimes this may mean once a month. Other times this may mean every two weeks, depending on your reasons for getting a massage.
For example, someone who is injured may have a different massage therapy frequency than someone who is getting massage therapy to help with their stress levels. For other individuals, it may also depend on their insurance allowance for massage.
All in all, massage therapy has many benefits for almost anyone and everyone.
Looking for Massage Therapy in Winnipeg?
Are you ready to receive all the benefits of massage therapy?
At Corydon Physiotherapy Clinic, our team of Registered Massage Therapists is ready to help. Our caring and compassionate team has many years of combined experience and can help you determine the best type of massage for you. We can help you recover, de-stress, and say goodbye to pain.
Contact us today at 204-900-8307 for more information or to book your appointment today.