Health Benefits of Massage
Massage therapy feels good and can help to keep you in top shape. Studies have shown that massage increases circulation, lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, relaxes muscles, improves flexibility and mobility, increases energy levels, enhances concentration, and promotes physical and emotional well-being.
Current research also indicates that massage therapy is effective in lessening or relieving symptoms for:
A growing number of health insurance plans throughout the U.S. are also beginning to recognize the benefits of massage therapy, as they continue to be evidenced by new medical research studies. In central Ohio, the Ohio State University has been at the forefront of this movement, by adding massage therapy as a covered benefit for its faculty and staff as of 1/1/2006.
Our senior massage therapist has been a credentialed provider for OSU since the benefit became available. Although most other health insurance plans in this area do not yet cover massage therapy as a stand-alone benefit, this may continue to change over time.
Massage Therapy Introduction
Massage Therapy is the practice of applying structured pressure, tension, motion, or vibration to the soft tissues of the body (including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, joints and lymphatic vessels) to achieve a beneficial response. There are many specialties within the field of therapeutic massage, each encompassing its own targeted techniques.
Many basic massage techniques aim to increase the circulation of bodily fluids and clear the body of toxins, thereby achieving a positive systemic effect that enhances overall wellness. Other, more specialized techniques are incorporated to address individual problem areas by working very specifically on related muscle groups and soft tissues. Through appropriate and individualized application by a professional massage therapist, a wide range of benefits can be achieved.
Medical Massage refers to the application of therapeutic massage techniques with the goal of improving a patient’s diagnosed health condition. An individualized treatment plan is generally created and followed by the therapists, and this is usually done in coordination with a physician or chiropractor.
If you have any of the conditions listed above, we encourage you to seek the advice of your physician or chiropractor for a coordinated treatment plan with your massage therapist.
Massage Specialties and Techniques
The main goal of Swedish Massage is relaxation. Through a routine of smooth, gliding strokes, kneading the muscles of the body and gentle stretching, circulation of blood is enhanced and relaxation is achieved. From head to toe, every system of the body is affected by Swedish Massage techniques. Its general applications are what most people expect when going for a common relaxation massage.
Deep Tissue Massage is a style of massage that uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure on contracted areas, either following or going across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia. The name “deep tissue” is used to describe the intention of the work, that is, to focus on the deeper layers of muscle tissue.
Myofascial Release techniques are a form of bodywork that is manipulative in nature and seeks to rebalance the body. Long and somewhat deep strokes are used to stretch the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the muscles. This technique can be incorporated in a general massage session, but typically it is used to address specific problems the client may be having.
In a very specific way, Neuromuscular Therapy (also known as NMT or Trigger Point Therapy) seeks to address the areas of contracted muscle tissue most people think of as “knots.” A trigger point is an area of muscle that is very sensitive to touch and can give a sensation of referred pain (pain that may be some distance from the source of irritation).
Trigger points can arise from chronic tension, as well as acute injury or spasms. By using firm, concentrated pressure, the therapist seeks to break up the trigger points, thus eliminating the cycle of spasm and pain.
Structural Release is a system that takes into account the entire body. With the intention to bring the body into balance, the therapist uses a holistic view of the client to address the problem at hand. By examining posture, gait, tension and movement, the therapist works with the client to seek a reconnection with their bodies to improve awareness and wholeness. Various techniques are used to achieve this goal including deep tissue and myofascial release.
In the course of a massage, Hot Stones may be used to enhance relaxation. Smooth river stones are heated to a comfortable temperature in warm water and then applied to the body in long deep strokes. The heat that is transferred to the muscles results in increased circulation and deep relaxation for the client.
A woman who is expecting may benefit greatly from massage therapy. Prenatal Massage considers the needs of the expectant mother. It is advised that the client wait until the first twelve weeks of her pregnancy to pass before seeking a massage. Pregnancy massage can provide relief from headaches, congestion, fatigue, back pain, muscle spasms and swollen feet. If you have any concerns about having a massage while pregnant, we encourage you to seek advice from your physician.
The Muscle Release TechniqueSM (MRTSM) is a unique injury therapy that combines compression, extension, movement, and breath to give the therapist a tool to provide, in many cases, relief from pain in one treatment.
With MRTSM, scar tissue is broken up, the muscle is lengthened, muscle memory is restored and relief from pain starts immediately. This technique is perfect for muscle tightness related to repetitive use injuries, as seen mostly in sedentary jobs and sporting activities.
Spinal Orthopathic Syndesmobilization Therapy (abbreviated S.O.S) is a very unique method of stretching deep tissues directly connected to the spine and hips. S.O.S. was developed through a technique of spinal manipulation called “naprapathy,” closely related to chiropractic. The focus of this work is to address the ligaments and connective tissue surrounding the vertebra and hip joints. A gentle but firm stretch is performed to the tissues to give rise to increased flexibility in the area. S.O.S. therapy emphasizes specific stretching or mobilization, but it does not “align” the spine. Unlike chiropractic, it does not utilize high velocity cavitation of a joint capsule. The trained therapist will specifically help to restore proper structural relationships within the spinal system by reducing tension and inflammation between the vertebrae.
Perfect for the office staff, health fairs and promotions, On-Site Massage (also known as Chair Massage or Corporate Massage) is administered while the client is clothed and seated in a specially designed chair. These chairs most often slope forward, allowing access to the large muscles of the back. On-site massage usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes and is intended to relax and improve circulation. The therapist arrives with chair in hand ready to bring relief in a high traffic setting.
Sports Massage Therapy focuses on the muscle groups associated with a particular sport. Sports Massage Therapy is tailored to the needs of the individual athlete. The therapist’s intention is to help an athlete enhance performance or to recover from injury. Sports Massage Therapy will often include many of the massage therapy techniques previously listed, in order to achieve the optimal performance of the athlete.
Newly explored by Massage Therapy is the modality of Kinesio Taping®. Invented in Japan by an American-educated chiropractor, Kinesio Taping® is a system of applying a flexible, breathable tape to the skin in order to facilitate muscle movement. Unlike athletic tape, the Kinesio Tape® is not restrictive but rather fluid and dynamic. It is essentially a myofascial release, edema reduction, muscle facilitation and connective tissue softening technique all in one. The tape typically stays on for between 1 and 5 days, therefore providing ongoing relief and treatment.
Olympic athletes have discovered Kinesio Taping® and have used it for over 10 years to enhance their performance. For more information visit the Kinesio Taping® Association website at www.kinesiotaping.com.