Massage therapy has long been recognized as a natural method of healing. Massage in its current form is a culmination of customs and techniques rooted in ancient history. While receiving a massage may be one of the most relaxing things you’ve ever done, massage also offers a variety of documented health and wellness incentives. There are many different types and styles of massage, but each offers its own unique benefits.
Swedish massage or a relaxing, full body massage is probably the most common and best known type of massage. Therapeutic massage typically indicates a more intense massage focused on dealing with more acute or chronic pain and injury issues. Several types of therapeutic massage are detailed below.
Deep Tissue Massage – a type of Swedish massage aimed at the “deeper tissues” in the muscles and fascia or connective tissue. Techniques may be similar to Swedish but pressure is usually more intense with more focus on any chronic muscle tension
Sports Massage – typically used before, during and/or after athletic events. The purpose is to prepare the athlete for peak performance. It can help prevent or minimize injuries through improving flexibility and joint range of motion. Post event, it can help decrease fatigue, relieve swelling and reduce muscle tension.
Trigger Point Massage – Trigger points are typically caused by muscle overuse or injury although chronic stress can be a culprit. They are tight points in a muscle that are painful and may refer pain elsewhere in the body creating a vicious cycle. TPM will address these “knots” with isolated pressure and release techniques. The patient should assist the massage therapist by deep breathing in concert with the intense pressure.
Shiatsu Massage – Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance.
Reflexology Massage – a specialized form of foot massage which involves applying pressure to specific parts of the foot believed to correspond to different organs, glands and parts of the body. The premise is applying pressure to these areas of the foot will promote health in the corresponding body parts through energetic pathways.
Therapeutic massage initiates specific physiological changes throughout the body. An increasing number of research studies show massage can:
• Reduce post surgical adhesions and swelling
• Decrease pain and improve range of motion
• Increase joint flexibility
• Promote tissue regeneration
• Boost immune system function through increasing blood circulation and lymph flow
• Increase endorphins enhancing medical treatment
Although therapeutic massage 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. Overall, massage is still considered part of complementary and alternative medicine although given its documented health benefits, it’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
REGIONAL Physiotherapy Center