Massage therapy is one of the oldest and most commonly practiced forms of holistic medicine and may be the easiest and quite literally the most comfortable option for those seeking pain relief. Its history dates back to 2700 B.C.E where the first written records of massage therapy were found in Ancient China. Since then, ancient cultures believed in its medical benefits and it has evolved to be used worldwide to promote health and well-being and as a form of self-care and relaxation. While it was once an alternative therapy, it is now widely incorporated as part of a mainstream treatment option in clinical settings.
Massage therapy not only feels great but provides for many health benefits. During a massage, a therapist will apply gentle or strong pressures to your muscles and joints with the goal of releasing muscle tightness and reducing tension. Massage therapy is a very popular treatment option for those suffering from back and neck pain. In our office, we offer clinical massages as part of your treatment regimen. Massage therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including fibromyalgia, neck and back pain, sciatica, sports injuries, carpal tunnel and much more.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Getting a massage has many health benefits including but not limited to the following:
Massage therapy loosens your muscles and tendons which increases blood flow throughout your body. Increased circulation helps to nourish the cells which in turn accelerates the healing process. If you rub an injured area, it will promote blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to that area to speed up your recovery time.
Massage therapy is an easy way to really target a specific source of pain to release tension and alleviate pain. When your muscle is contracted, it can impact the surrounding nerves. By relaxing the muscle tissue, nerve compression is decreased which can reduce pain.
Improve Weakened Muscles
By manipulating your muscles, massage therapy can also help lengthen and strengthen them while toning weak muscles. A massage also helps to break up the build-up of lactic acid, which builds up during exercise and can leave you feeling sore.
Studies show that when you receive a massage, it directly lowers the levels of stress hormones in your body. You’ll also see an increase in the release of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones which are emitted from the brain and activate the body’s opiate receptors. You’ll feel a boost in your mood after getting a massage which can diminish the pain.
Improve your Flexibility
Massage therapy helps to loosen your muscles. With an increase in flexibility, you’ll also see an increase in your mobility and range of motion.
After a massage, you’ll feel more relaxed. This is because endorphins are released during a massage which can lead to an increase in relaxation. These endorphins are your body’s natural pain killers as well.
Types of Massage Therapy
While you may think that only massage therapists give massages, physical therapists can give them too. At our office, medical massage therapy is an integral part of our physical therapy regimen. We use several different types of massage therapy including the following:
Deep Tissue Massage
This type of massage is best for those who have an injury or chronic pain or are involved in activities which are highly physical such as running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of massage involves applying firm pressure in slow strokes to reach the fascia and deeper muscle layers to break up scar tissue and muscle adhesions.
Sports Medicine Massage
Our physical therapists provide deep tissue or sports massage to ease muscle tension and alleviate aches. If you play sports and have an injury from repetitive use of a muscle, such as tennis elbow or a rotator cuff tear, sports massage would be a good option for you. Our physical therapists will help you rehabilitate the muscle and increase your joint function.
Trigger Point (Myofascial Release) Massage Therapy
Myofascial trigger points are tightly contracted bands of muscle located on a larger muscle – quite simply, they are areas where your muscles have tensed up but are unable to let go of their contracted state. These points area areas which have decreased circulation and increased muscle spasms and sensitivity. Trigger points will be tender to the touch and can cause a constant dull ache. They can limit your range of motion and cause muscle weakness.
Trigger points often play a large part in neck and back pain and form when the muscle is stressed or injured or from predisposing factors such as poor posture, repetitive mechanical stress and joint disorders. Trigger points are easy to locate as they will feel like a knot in the midst of a smooth muscle striation. They can refer pain to another part of the body when pressed on. By applying pressure to specified points on your body that need to be released, our physical therapists can help you alleviate muscle dysfunction and achieve pain relief.
What is the difference between a spa massage and a clinical massage?
A clinical massage, although administered by a massage therapist/physical therapist, has a couple key differences than a massage you would receive in a spa setting. This is due to the fact that they both have different deliverables and goals. A clinical massage will deliver an outcome- based result as it aims to resolve a medical ailment. The purpose of a spa massage, on the other hand, is to place you in a state of relaxation.
Another key difference is the fact that medical massage therapy may be covered by your insurance as a means of treating a specific condition. We combine massage therapy with physical therapy and strengthening exercises to help you treat conditions including lower back pain, carpal tunnel and sciatica.
Massage therapy may be the easiest and quite literally the most comfortable treatment option for those seeking pain relief. In our office, we use the aforementioned types of massage in conjunction with physical therapy to alleviate your aches and improve your function and condition. Our experienced therapists will help you target your specific problems to help you improve your mobility and function. Give us a call today to set up your appointment and start your journey to a better and new you.