What’s massage therapy?
While many people enjoy massage treatments from time to time to relax, massage therapy also offers a conservative treatment to stimulate natural healing in the body. During massage therapy, the practitioner uses their hands, and in some cases, special massage tools, to manually relax and release the muscles. In many cases, this offers almost immediate relief for musculoskeletal pain. By stimulating circulation and lymphatic drainage, massage also helps the body to harness its innate self-healing ability.
Are there different varieties of massage therapy?
There is a multitude of massage techniques that a therapist may use on a patient depending on their needs.
Swedish massage technique is well-known for its general relaxation effects. The therapist uses long sweeping strokes to gently release tension in the muscles and soft tissue. This helps to increase the level of oxygen in the blood and stimulate the lymphatic system.
Deep tissue massage targets tension held deeper within the muscles. The therapist uses firmer pressure and targets certain muscles and parts of the body. Deep tissue therapy may also be used to release the fascia, a layer of protective tissue that covers all of the muscles, organs, and tissues in the body.
Trigger point massage therapy takes this treatment 1 step deeper and targets specific trigger points, referred to as knots, in the muscle. Trigger points are caused by a spasm in the muscle and cause significant pain, both at the spasm site and throughout neighboring muscles and tissues. With very firm, targeting pressure, the therapist helps the spasm to release and uses more gentle techniques to sooth any muscles suffering from radiant pain.
What are the benefits of massage therapy?
In addition to relaxation, massage therapy offers a variety of health benefits, such as improving blood circulation and the oxygenation of the blood. Massage may also allow muscles to relax, reduce swelling, and relieving pain and spasms. Studies also show that massage therapy reduces the body’s production of cortisol — the stress hormone — and arginine vasopressin-a — a hormone that supports the production of cortisol. Some forms of massage may also stimulate the body’s ability to produce oxytocin and serotonin. The benefit of all of these massage effects is a healthier and more balanced body. A balanced body functions at its best levels and is better able to stave off illness and to avoid injury.