What is Therapeutic Massage?
Therapeutic massage involves the manipulation and movement of the soft tissue while applying pressure to the body to release tension in the tissue that contributes to pain and discomfort. AMTA defines massage therapy as a profession in which the practitioner applies manual techniques, and may apply adjunctive therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client.
Massage therapy improves the functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic, muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems and may improve the rate at which the body recovers from injury and illness. Massage involves manipulation, causing movement of soft tissue, and/or applying pressure to the body.
It comes in many forms, including:
- Trigger point therapy
- Sports massage
- Neuromuscular Therapy
- Myofacial Release
- Raindrop Technique™
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- How can Massage be medically beneficial?
People find that therapeutic massage can help with a wide range of medical conditions, including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Asthma and bronchitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic and temporary pain
- Circulatory problems
- Digestive disorders (including spastic colon, constipation and diarrhea)
- Headache, especially when due to muscle tension
- Myofascial pain ( a condition of the connective tissue of the muscles)
- Reduced range of motion
- Sports injuries, including pulled or strained muscles and sprained ligaments
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
“Massage therapy is a complementary therapy, not alternative anymore. It’s of tremendous benefit.”
–Brad Stuart M.D. Hospice Medical Director for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern California
Although massage therapy does not increase muscle strength, it can stimulate weak, inactive muscles and; thus, partially compensate for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from illness or injury. It also can hasten and lead to a more complete recovery from exercise or injury.
Therapeutic massage by not be recommended in some cases, such as in people with:
inflammation of the veins (phlebitis)
certain forms of cancer
some skin conditions
some cardiac problems
If you have one of these or some other diagnosed medical condition, always check with your doctor before seeking a massage.
What does research show about massage therapy?
Among research finding so far:
Office workers massaged regularly were more alert, performed better and were less stressed than those who weren’t massaged.
Massage therapy decreased the effects of anxiety, tension, depression, pain, and itching in burn patients.
Abdominal surgery patients recovered more quickly after massage
Premature infants who were massaged gained more weight and fared better than those who weren’t
Autistic children showed less erratic behavior after massage therapy.
*Massage therapy is beneficial for almost all diseases. Eighty percent of disease is stress-related, and massage reduces stress.”
–Sandra McLanahan, M.D. Family Practitioner, Buckingham, VA.
“Massage is to the body what a tune-up is to a car. It provides a physical and mental boost to the weary, sort, and stressed…”
-Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1995
Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
Lessens inflammation of the joints and relieves pain
Stretches connective tissues and reduces formation of adhesions
Increases excretion of fluid from the kidneys
Increases the number of red blood cells
Helps relieve stress and aids relaxation
Helps relieve muscle tension and stiffness
Fosters faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments; reduces pain and swelling; reduces formation of excessive scar tissue
Reduces muscle spasms
Provides greater joint flexibility and range of motion
Enhances athletic performance
Promotes deeper and easier breathing
Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymph fluids
Reduces blood pressure
Helps relieve tension-related headaches and effects of eye-strain
Enhances the health and nourishment of skin
Relieves congestion throughout the body
Can act as a sedaitive
Massage Therapy and Well-Being : Mental Benefits
Fosters peace of mind
Promotes a relaxed state of mental alertness
Helps relieve mental stress
Improves ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately
Enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity
Satisfies needs for caring – nurturing touch
Fosters a feeling of well-being
Reduces levels of anxiety
Increases awareness of mind-body connection