Massage therapy is the term used to refer to various forms of massage used to alleviate and relieve various physical conditions and needs. In all forms of massage, the therapist applies pressure to glide, knead and tap layers of muscles using hands, fingers, elbows, forearms and even feet in order to release the buildup of tension, reduce muscle strain, increase relaxation and relieve pain. Massage therapy is frequently used to unwind after a tedious day, energize the spirit, improve blood flow, address depression and anxiety, and treat back pain. It is also used to rehabilitate sports injuries and to aid general wellness.
How does massage therapy work?
Massage is the ultimate mind-meets-body therapy. It exploits the natural effect of touch to bestow both mental and physical benefits. Since even just a basic touch provides comfort to the body, the delicate and subtle touch and movement from the hands, fingers, elbows and forearms of an experienced professional therapist can provide more than just comfort. That is why a single massage therapy session helps to reduce state anxiety (reaction to a particular situation), blood pressure and heart rate while multiple sessions can reduce trait anxiety (general proneness to anxiety), depression and pain.
Massage therapy exploits the instinctual response of the body to touch to deliver healing power. When gentle touch is applied to the body, the muscles relax and tension is relieved. In turn, areas experiencing reduced range of motion and movement are stretched and achieve improved mobility. For example, if a patient is recovering from sports injury, receiving a massage tends to dramatically improve the recovery time by enhancing the flexibility of the injured limb. And for athletes preparing for muscle limbers and athletes preparing for strenuous workouts, going after a massage therapy leaves them feeling rejuvenated, de-stressed and with a lesser risk of tearing muscles.
Through massage therapy, the body achieves improved blood and lymph circulation, which promote healing and recovery from injury. As blood circulation improves, the nervous system calms, heart rate is lowered and blood pressure is reduced. Better circulation also boosts the immune system, preventing potential illnesses while fortifying the immune system for recovery from a current sickness.
Since massage stimulates the lymphatic system—which serves as part of the body’s natural defense system—it helps the body to remove wastes and toxins and supports natural healing mechanisms. Actually, a tailored form of massage called lymphatic drainage massage is specifically used for patients recovering from cancer treatments to help reduce toxins and stress.
Massage is useful in relieving chronic low-back pain, particularly for patients who are not responding to conventional treatment. When applied, it improves function and relieves symptoms of chronic pain. It is also useful in those with chronic neck pain and in patients with advanced cancer, where it helps to relieve pain and improve mood.
Specifically, massage therapy can be used for:
- Relieving chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and pain related to childbirth.
- Alleviating chronic headaches and migraines.
- Improving behavior in children with autism.
- Enhancing lung function in asthma patients.
- Improving digestive function and helps to treat digestive disorders.
- Alleviating stress-related insomnia.
- Decreasing pain and anxiety in heart surgery patients.
- Reducing instances of depression and anxiety in mental health patients.
- Controlling glucose levels in diabetic patients as well as improving their quality of life.
- Helping cancer patients to reduce pain, feel relaxed, and boost their immune function.
- Alleviating temporo-mandibular joint-related pain.
In order to achieve treatment goals, massage therapy is usually tailored to suit the needs and condition of the patient. The most common techniques used include:
- Swedish massage: Application of long, sweeping strokes, rolling and muscle kneading, together with rhythmic tapping for muscle relaxation and stress relief. It is one of the most popular types of massage.
- Shiatsu Massage: The use of finger pressure alongside gentle stretches to improve blood flow and relieve stress. This is also a very popular technique.
- Thai Massage: Stretching and yoga-like moves are used to work the entire body, leaving the person feeling energized and invigorated.
- Trigger point therapy: A cycle of isolated pressure and release movements are used to alleviate pain in a targeted area or trigger point.
- Reflexology: Application of pressure to certain areas of the feet and hands to treat certain condition, promote relaxation and relieve stress.
- Deep tissue massage: The technique is similar to the Swedish massage, but involves application of deep pressure to specific trouble areas and tends to leave the patient feeling sore in the next few days.
- Neuromuscular therapy massage: A complex type of massage where manipulation of underlying tissues and nerves considered sources of chronic pain is used to produce relief and alleviate symptoms.
- Hot stone massage: Application of warmed stones on certain areas of the body to relieve pain and relax tensed muscles.
- Sports massage: Uses a combination of techniques and focuses on specific areas of the body to help physically active individuals prepare for events, prevent injury or recover from surgery.
- Prenatal massage: Application of various techniques to achieve the best therapeutic outcomes with pregnant women. The techniques used are based on preference, condition and needs of the client.
At FYZICAL Lakewood Ranch, we recognize that massage therapy is a critical form of holistic healing that should be performed by licensed therapists to relieve pain and stress, increase relaxation and circulation, rehabilitate injuries, and promote the overall well-being of patients. Our therapists are skilled in touching and manipulating many soft tissues and muscles in the body, touching and applying pressure to revitalize intricate and delicate structures. We go beyond simple pain relief and musculoskeletal complaints to provide holistic services that effectively balance all the various systems and tackle the chief complaints.
We believe that massage therapy can make a big difference in our patient’s recovery path from a variety of health issues. Massage is useful in injury rehabilitation, reduces post-surgery swelling and adhesions and alleviates the side effects of oncology therapies such as chemotherapy.
At FYZICAL Lakewood Ranch, we combine the modern clinical massage techniques such as trigger point work, fascial techniques, joint mobilizations and neuromuscular techniques with the thousands-year-old Eastern medical massage modalities such as Shiatsu, Tui Na and Thai bodywork to deliver the best possible massage therapy services. For more information on massage therapy, physical rehabilitation and orthopedic services, visit the site FYZICAL Lakewood Ranch website.