For as long as we have been on the earth, we’ve used touch to soothe pain and promote healing. Therapeutic massage is a modern version of that ancient reflex, with a scientific basis and an emphasis on treating specific conditions. Massage is a common practice in health care settings and can be performed by trained therapists. Most people are familiar with the classic Swedish massage, which uses several basic strokes on soft tissue and muscle. In addition to that technique, therapeutic massage incorporates techniques from other health care disciplines, such as physiotherapy and chiropractic.
A therapeutic massage may help with pain relief, decrease muscle stiffness and tension, improve blood circulation, break down scar tissue and enhance flexibility. Therapeutic massages also help reduce stress and anxiety. It is important to remember that massages are not a cure-all and that other treatment methods should be used in conjunction with a professional therapeutic massage.
Generally, a therapeutic massage includes an overall body work over the entire body, using strokes such as effleurage (stroking movements), petrissage (tending or pulling movements) and kneading (squeezing and manipulation of soft tissues). Massage practitioners often incorporate additional techniques from other health care disciplines, such as passive and active stretching, muscle energy techniques and myofascial release.
Myofascial pain is caused by tight, bunched up tissue that surrounds muscles and bones. This can cause chronic pain in the neck, back and joints. During a therapeutic massage, the myofascial tissue is released and the surrounding muscles can relax. Massage also helps increase flexibility, improve range of motion and maintains the elasticity of connective tissue.
There are many benefits of a therapeutic massage, including decreasing cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone), increasing serotonin and dopamine, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, helping with arthritic joints, promoting flexibility and enhancing relaxation and sleep. In addition, massage can help treat headaches, including migraines, cluster and sinus headaches as well as tension and sprains of muscles and ligaments.
Anyone can benefit from a therapeutic massage, especially if they want to reduce the buildup of toxins in the body, reduce inflammation and improve their overall health and wellness. Massage has been shown to reduce the lactic acid build up in the muscles and therefore prevents fatigue, aiding in the recovery of injuries and improving general health. A good therapeutic massage can also help increase range of motion and improve flexibility, as well as decrease the occurrence of future injuries.