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When many individuals think of massage therapy, they imagine a luxury, spa-like experience. However, massage therapy also has a rightful place in the world of rehab and healthcare. It can help treat injuries or certain conditions, guiding you toward a pain-free life.
In fact, massage therapy has a rich history dating back to 3000 BCE. As part of many ancient and holistic healing systems, massage therapy has been used for thousands of years to treat illnesses, alleviate pain, and heal injuries.
But what is massage therapy exactly? How can it benefit you? What should you know? In this article, we’re going to cover it all.
What Does a Massage Therapist Do?
A massage therapist uses hands-on techniques to manipulate the soft tissues of the body with the goal of optimizing health and wellness.
Working in a variety of settings, you can find massage therapists in private clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities, sports facilities, and more. In some cases, a massage therapist may come to you, offering their services within the comfort of your own home.
In Canada, all massage therapists must register in their province or territory of choice. You should only ever receive massage therapy from a registered massage therapist.
At your first visit, your massage therapist will conduct an initial assessment. This may involve asking questions about your health history, complaint, symptoms, and goals. They may further assess the affected area via touch to help them determine the best way to help.
From there, your massage therapist creates a treatment plan specific to you and your needs. This all further takes place with your informed consent.
During your sessions, you lie on a table in loose clothing or undressed with a sheet over top. Occasionally, your massage may also take place in a massage chair. Throughout your massage, your therapist may use oils and lotions for your comfort.
The number and frequency of sessions will depend on your specific situation and goals. Your massage therapist should discuss this with you at your first few appointments.
Does Massage Therapy Hurt?
Generally, massage therapy should not cause you pain. If at any point you feel pain during your massage, let your therapist know and they will adjust.
At the same time, it’s normal to feel sore the following day after your massage. This is completely normal and usually is due to the inflammatory response produced by the body to help you heal.
What Are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?
There are countless benefits of massage therapy. The most common ones include:
1. It helps you relax.
Massage therapy activates the relaxation response in the body. In fact, various research has shown how massage can help lower stress. This can have many other health benefits since chronic stress can contribute to the development of heart disease and other illnesses.
So, if you’re feeling stressed about work or life stuff, booking a massage appointment might just be exactly what you need!
2. It may improve sleep.
Sleep is an essential part in achieving optimal health and wellness. It also does wonders for healing and recovery. Interestingly, research shows that individuals have less sleep movement and increased sleep duration after massage therapy.
3. It may enhance flexibility and mobility.
Massage therapy techniques can decrease tension and release scar tissue that may be causing issues with your range of motion. Scar tissue can build and cause tissues to stick together, which limits movement. Certain massage techniques help the body release this scar tissue and ease muscular tension.
4. It can help alleviate pain and accelerate healing.
Massage therapy encourages proper blood flow, helping bring necessary cells to aid in healing and helping to remove toxins or byproducts from the site of injury. Through this and the ability of massage to help improve blood flow, massage therapy can significantly help lower your pain and improve your healing outcomes.
What Types of Massage Therapy Are There?
Many people get confused regarding what type of massage therapy they should select. Below, we’ve outlined the most common types to help you make an informed choice.
1. Swedish Massage
This is the type of massage that many individuals picture when they think of getting a massage. Through the use of kneading, long strokes, and deep circular motions, this type of massage can help you fully relax. It is also suitable for individuals that are a bit more sensitive to pressure and touch.
2. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but it uses more pressure. Through the use of deep pressure, this type of massage helps alleviate tight muscles and reduce pain. This is usually a good option for individuals with chronic injuries and pain.
3. Cupping Massage
Cupping massage involves the use of suction cups to create a vacuum, which draws the skin up into the cup. Consequently, this helps separate the skin, fascia, and muscle tissue, as well as increases blood flow. Frequently used in conjunction with deep tissue massage techniques, this type of massage can accelerate injury healing and reduce pain.
4. Sports Massage
Sports massage is specific to sports injuries. It is a particularly good choice for athletes who have recurring or acute injuries. It is often performed on one affected area, but it can also include a whole body massage. Your massage therapist will alternate between deep strokes and more soothing techniques.
5. Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is best suited for individuals who have pain and also want a more relaxing option. During this massage, hot stones are placed on specific points of the body. At the same time, gentle Swedish massage techniques are used to further help you relax.
6. Trigger Point Massage
Trigger points might arise in the body due to injury or chronic pain conditions. These spots, sometimes called “muscle knots,” can become increasingly painful if not addressed. This type of massage strives to target these areas, releasing the trigger points and alleviating your pain.
7. Prenatal Massage
Prenatal massage addresses issues that arise due to changes in the body from pregnancy. A prenatal massage is a safe and effective way for pregnant women to find some relief from the common aches and pains that arise during those nine months.
Not sure what type of massage is best for you? Contact our team at Corydon Physiotherapy by calling 204-900-8250. Discover all the incredible benefits massage has to offer!