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WHAT IS MASSAGE THERAPY, ANYWAY?

Dr. James R. Grilliot, Oct 4, 2014

What is massage therapy? For one thing, it is a fast-growing profession. Two decades ago, massage therapy was virtually unknown. It has evolved over the years, and today has taken on a more healthcare-oriented, therapeutic approach. Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The most common types are Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage and Trigger Point Massage. Swedish Massage is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.

Deep Tissue Massage uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, which commonly helps muscle damage from injuries. Sports Massage is similar to Swedish Massage, but it is geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries. Trigger Point Massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Massage has many diverse physiological effects, as the different movements can physically stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that encourage circulation through the tissue and inhibit muscular spasms that either sedate or stimulate the nervous system. The psychological benefits of massage should not be ignored either as our emotional state impacts our physical health.

Many of today’s health problems can benefit from massage therapy because the manipulation of soft tissues can improve health by acting directly on the muscular, nervous, circulatory and lymphatic (immune) system. Massage treatments aim to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function. That is why massage therapy has become a staple of many professional athletic training regimes.

Massage therapy is one of the best antidotes for stress, and we know this is true on an intuitive level. If the untrained hands of a friend or partner can soothe aches and pains and diminish anxiety, then imagine the effect of a therapeutic massage by a trained practitioner. Massage boosts the body’s immune system, which can become compromised from extended periods of stress. Tension can build up in the muscles, causing a decrease in circulation and nutrient delivery to tissues.

Soft tissue manipulation decreases muscular tension, increases removal of metabolic waste and promotes nutrient delivery to healing tissue. Knots in your muscles can inhibit your ability to perform daily tasks. As other parts of your body attempt to compensate for the ache of a tight muscle, they also become tight and uncomfortable. Eventually, an injury that began in your neck can trace to your shoulder, down your arm and into your wrist. The reaction chain can take innumerable forms, but none of them are pleasant.

In short, with a therapeutic massage, stress can be significantly reduced. This, in turn, will increase energy, improve your outlook on life, and in the process, boost your immune system function.

Although massage therapy has evolved over the years, many people still are unclear about the huge difference between sensual massage and therapeutic massages. Therapeutic massage consists of a therapist dressed in a professional manner, and requires a completed health history form on the first visit.

General health questions are necessary since there are some conditions for which massage is not suitable. All information is kept private and confidential. Assessments and occasionally some testing are performed on the first visit. This allows the therapist to understand the client’s goals and to set up the appropriate treatment plan that is beneficial to the client and the condition.

The client’s privacy will always be respected. The client will be draped at all times during the massage, except for the areas being worked on. The client will be covered with a sheet and can undress or leave on as much clothing with which they are comfortable. The massage can also be done through the sheets and over the clothing. The therapist will leave the room to allow the client to disrobe and cover themselves on the table. The massage therapist must obtain consent to work on any part of the body.

Appointments at most facilities, including my Natural Wellness Centre, are made in advance and the atmosphere is clinical, yet comfortable. Informed consent is obtained prior to the treatment, and questions and concerns are encouraged throughout the treatment to maintain the client’s comfort.

Massage therapy is a regulated health profession that involves passing specific government board examinations, which consist of a written and practical portion to obtain a license in most states.

Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you can be and how youthful you will remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for a massage on a consistent schedule is truly an investment in your health.

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