Massage used to be only for the rich and famous. Now it is considered to be a necessity of staying healthy. It is in demand and affordable for just about everyone. We come into this world with muscles and joints so soft and flexible that careful, loving hands must gently support our tiny little bodies. Immediately, we begin developing an agility, strength and dexterity that allows us to grasp, to crawl, to jump, spin and somersault. And then, that massive freedom of movement is reduced and restricted by the stress, trauma and injuries of living. But the big question is – What can be done for you?
Almost 75% of the time we go to a doctor because we have pain and very often they will tell us nothing is wrong – it is just age. Simply put, you do not have to live with pain. It doesn’t matter whether you are a weekend warrior, a mother of 3, an athlete, young or old. Massage is for you. The benefits are widely known. It fosters well-being, reduces stress, relieves pain and stiffness, improves circulation and flexibility, and promotes better sleep and athletic performance. You no longer go to a massage therapist just for a feel good massage.
So how and what do you look for in a massage therapist and what are they going to do for you? Find someone who is recommended to you and is getting results for their clients. It is also important to find someone you can trust and be comfortable around. You may have to visit them once or twice and most therapists can provide you with a list of their clients that you may speak to, a record of where and what types of therapy they provide and if they carry insurance.
First, massage is a modality much like physical therapy and occupational therapy. It is a way of taking care of your body, because after all “without your muscles you are nothing but a bag of bones.” So just like you take care of your hair, nails, children and husbands, you should take greater care of your muscles. That small nagging ache that you feel now and then, could be something bigger in 5 to 10 years.
Massage comes in many forms and styles. The most common is Swedish and while it is a good and useful tool and will make your muscles feel great it will probably not help correct any problems you might be having other than aches and pains. It is a series of movements that were developed in the 1700’s to increase circulation and lymph flow and shorten your recovery time from stress and strains.
Myofascial is another type that facilitates any restrictions or postural problems you may have as your body is made up of connective tissue. A soothing pressure is exerted which stretches all the fascia, or connective tissue, that surrounds all cellular fibers. The intent is to move the body from an inefficient, even painful, structure to an efficient structure. Injuries, old habits and emotional stress all create our posture and restrictions. Remember that C-section or any other surgery you may have had or even an old injury, it is a network of scar tissue and will start to pull on you body. For example a C-section scar on the front may pull you forward which in turn will throw the entire body off sometimes creating a low back pain. This type of massage usually can take up to 10 sessions to feel the full effect. Carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, dizziness, sciatica and Fibromyalgia are just a few other problems that Myofascial release may help.
Neuromuscular or Trigger Point therapy is probably the most beneficial. It uses soft tissue manipulations that help balance the nervous system with the muscular system. This is a deep tissue massage focusing on points of spasm in muscles causing deep pain that may also refer to other areas of the body. It is especially effective for athletes or anyone who has daily aches and pains, headaches and jaw problems. This therapy may help alleviate the pain. Injuries that have long healed can still cause muscle spasms. Trigger points from everyday use of the body’s musculature can be deactivated. Like Myofascial it relieves the same types of problems listed above and is most helpful if used with Myofascial but does not have to be exclusive. Each muscle is release with its trigger points from superficial to deep and with very little pressure. Patients may feel immediate relief or it may take up to 24-48 hours although full relief of the symptoms may take up to 10 sessions depending on the degree of your individual problem.
Massage no matter what type you choose will facilitate the body’s own healing processes by releasing tension and restoring balance. So now you say – what does all this mean to me? Well as this long, hot, and probably stressful summer, comes to an end and it is time for the kids to go back to school, and you begin a new adjustment period; learn to listen to your body and take care of yourself.
Contributed By: Lois Pearson RMT, LVN, NMT