Massage is defined as the physical manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for a curative effect. Physiotherapists and massage therapists use their hands to apply pressure to your body. Therapists use various techniques to work on the body: stroking and gliding (effleurage), kneading the soft tissues (petrissage), or what is termed ‘percussion’ (tapotement), passive joint movement, to realign the body.
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Different Types of Massage
There are several forms of massage on offer, and it can be confusing to know what will work best for a particular ailment or condition. Some massage concentrates more on relaxing the client whilst others will work more deeply at repairing damaged muscle tissue. Here are a few examples
- Connective Tissue Massage – this technique does not involve the use of oil or lotion. It can relieve chronic tension, improve posture and relieve painful symptoms of chronic diseases such as Arthritis, Tendonitis, TMJ and Sciatica.
- Deep Tissue Massage – focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It is designed to reach the deep sections of thick muscles, specifically the individual muscle fibres.
- Shiatsu – is a traditional hands-on Japanese ‘healing therapy’. It is quite an intense form of massage whereby the therapist uses thumbs, elbows, forearms, feet and knees to apply pressure on the body. This is combined with stretches, joint rotations and joint manipulation to give an all-over treatment.
- Swedish Massage – is a system of long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration and shaking motions that apply pressure between muscles and bones, rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Swedish Massage feels good, is relaxing and invigorating.
- Reflexology – manipulation of the reflex points on the feet and hands utilising specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil, cream or lotion. This form of massage is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change in the body.
- Trigger Point Therapy, which aims to reduce pain by applying pressure to certain points. It is thought that the applied pressure inhibits the nerve signals that cause pain.
What should I expect from a massage session?
The massage therapist or physiotherapist will have a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology to assess and treat the dysfunction you are experiencing. A first diagnosis from an appropriate specialist such as your doctor of physiotherapist will help the therapist know where to begin to treat you. Massage normally takes place in a private room or space. Clients are expected to partially undress and are given a towel or robe to place over themselves. The exception to this is with ‘Mobile Massage’ whereby the client may remain clothed and is not always in a private space. Most massage will take place on a massage table lying down, but in some cases the massage takes place whilst you are seated on a massage chair or on a floor mat. Massage therapy can last for 10 mins to 1 hour depending what is requested.
Benefits of Massage
You will be astounded at just how good massage is for you. Massage is a holistic treatment which has a strong beneficial effect on the body physically, or psychologically.
- Improves waste and toxin removal from the body
- Encourages sleep, therefore helping with insomnia and other sleep issues
- Helps to relieve stiff and aching joints
- Encourages lymph drainage which can help to reduce swelling
- Improves the blood circulation through the body
- Helps to encourage deeper breathing
- Improves skin tone and colour
- Relaxes and relieves sore tight and tired muscles
- Can either help to stimulate or sedate the nervous system
- Helps the body to relax
- Can help to limit scars forming after injuries and can also help to break down existing scar tissue
- Massage can help to release muscles that are pressing on nerves, therefore relieving pain or tingling in arms and legs
- Can improve muscle tone and balance, thus giving better support to the skeletal system
- The relaxing properties of massage can help to decrease the heart rate
- Regular massage can actually increase white blood cells, strengthening your immune system
- By relaxing the respiratory muscles, massage can improve lung capacity and improving and stimulating digestion
Psychological Massage Benefits
As well as the physical effects on the body, massage can also be very helpful psychologically.
- Overall relaxation, which is very important for helping to reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and the effects of these such as depression, eczema, migraines, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and back pain
- It helps to ease the mental distress that is caused by being in pain
- It can enhance mental alertness which go hand in hand with increased physical awareness
- Massage can help to improve your self confidence and self esteem
- It releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals, giving you a natural high and creates an overall feeling of wellbeing.
How Massage Relieves Pain
Pain can occur for a variety of reasons but you don’t just have to put up with it or take increasing amounts of medication in order to control it. Massage has many benefits but one of the main ones is its ability to help you relieve and manage your pain.
Think of this, if you bang your elbow, you will hold on to it. Likewise, if you have a stiff neck or sore shoulder, you’ll rub it to try and make it feel better. This is because the power of touch, or massage, can help you to relieve those aches and pains. There are many different forms of massage from gentle to deeper forms so it is up to you which form you choose.
Massage helps to relieve and reduce pain in a few different ways.
Firstly, it increases the flow of blood to joints and muscles, helping to warm them.
Massage also triggers the brain to release natural painkillers, and it also helps to speed the flow of oxytocins which is a hormone that relaxes muscles as well as promotes a feeling of calm and contentment.
Massage is also incredibly relaxing both physically and mentally. It helps the muscles themselves to relax, and it also calms the stress and anxiety that you might feel because of your pain.
Who Can Benefit From Massage?
Modern medicine has taught us to reach for a pill to treat almost any health condition such as fever, cough, colds, pain and headaches. Often pharmaceutical drugs merely treat the symptoms without doing much to eliminate the cause of the problem. Moreover, the regular use of drugs may lead to an accumulation of toxins in your colon, liver and kidney.
With growing awareness of the cumulative toxic effects of these chemical formulations, more people are turning to alternative approaches for the treatment of body aches and pains like massage and physiotherapy.
With stress and anxiety on the rise, people are looking for non-medicinal alternatives to relieve their symptoms. Massage is one such therapy that is effective for a range of conditions and is well worth exploring.
It is a good idea to take regular massage as a preventative measure. Regular massage maintenance will increase your overall sense of wellbeing for optimum physical and mental health, helping you to achieve your goals.
Massage is used to treat a wide range of disorders, such as:
- Back Pain
- Headaches and Migraines
- Muscular tension
- Work related stress
- Repetitive strain injury
- Frozen shoulder
- Sports and dancing injuries
- Eating disorders and digestive dysfunction
- Pre-natal pregnancy conditions
The power of healing in massage is linked to the energy that flows through the therapist’s hands in touch to refresh, regenerate and revitalise.
Who should not have massage?
Almost anyone can benefit from massage but you should seek the advice of a doctor or massage therapist if you suffer from deep vein thrombosis, burns, skin infections, eczema, open wounds, broken bones, advanced osteoporosis, or if you are pregnant. If you fall into one of those categories, the massage may need to be tailored to suit or postponed until a more suitable time.
Massage Therapy for Seniors
Commonly referred to as geriatric massage, this style of massage serves as an excellent alternative for seniors who are looking to resolve a physical problem without adding to their already long list of daily medication.
How Geriatric Massage Therapy is different
Geriatric massage must accommodate an elderly body with gentle, loving care. A trained geriatric masseuse will make sure the senior’s body is positioned carefully on the table and will make sure to position the senior comfortably. Mobility is often an issue for the senior. For example, they may have walking difficulties and may use a wheelchair. An experienced geriatric masseuse will adapt the massage to the seniors needs, administering the massage to the client in the chair.
Hands and feet are often a focus of massage when working on a senior. This is especially true if the senior doesn’t have full use of them. Hand and foot massage increases blood circulation in certain parts of an aging body and also increases the senior’s body awareness. Symptoms of the following conditions often experienced by seniors are alleviated with massage:
- Joint inflammation
- Swollen ankles, feet and fingers
- Muscle and bone deterioration
- Poor blood circulation
- Sleep disorders
- Reduced mental capacity
- High blood pressure
Benefits of Geriatric massage
- Improved overall mobility.
- Improved circulation
- Increased ability to heal, particularly after surgery. It is advisable to always check with your doctor to determine if massage is safe post surgery.
- Improved Mood. Many seniors in today’s society are isolated, and as a result become lonely and depressed. The benefits of human touch provided by massage are priceless for some, and also provides the senior with a time to simply enjoy another human beings company.
- Reduced anxiety,
- Improved posture,
- Healthier looking skin and muscle tone.
- A profound sense of well-being that in turn helps to keep active and motivated seniors to look after their health.
Baby massage is the perfect way to help you to bond with your new baby. It also helps to stimulate their physical and emotional growth, and their awareness through the sense of touch. As well as benefitting your baby, baby massage is also beneficial to you as a parent, helping you to better understand your baby’s non-verbal cues.
How Massage Can Benefit Your Baby
- Builds a secure bond between the parent and the child;
- Helps the baby to feel more secure emotionally, meaning that they will be more confident and well balanced as they get older;
- Great at calming and relaxing the baby, leading to less irritability and fewer tantrums;
- Benefits the skin as it improves its texture and condition;
- Improves the blood circulation, increasing the flow of oxygen to muscles and tissues and also helping to remove waste products more efficiently;
- Strengthened immune system which helps to reduce the incidence of coughs, colds, and infections in the ear and nasal passages;
- Increase your baby’s flexibility and help their coordination;
- Helps the digestive system and can help your baby to feed better;
- Relieves the pain and discomfort that a baby feels when it has colic or other problems such as constipation.
Tips for Massaging Your Baby
- Use products that are specifically designed for baby’s sensitive skin. These products are usually as natural as possible and unscented or gently scented.
- Seek the advice of a professional if you are at all unsure as to what is good to use.
- It is best to choose a time when you are both calm and relaxed, such as half an hour after the baby’s last feed. You should both be comfortable.
- Respond to your baby during the massage, by looking at them, and paying attention to the areas that they do or don’t want massaged.
- Use gentle pressure when massaging.
Corporate/ Workplace Benefits
Massage helps to relieve work-related stress by increasing mental relaxation and by addressing physical symptoms of back and neck pain that come from sitting for an extended period of time at a desk or from physical labour.
Massage counteracts the effects of sitting in front of a computer screen daily. Corporations are beginning to realise the benefits of staff wellbeing as a way to increase productivity. Mobile massage therapy as a part of employee benefits could go a long way to help reduce staff stress levels, which in turn will make for a more cooperative relaxed work environment, and then aid productivity. More obviously if employers spend on massage for their staff they might reduce the cost of lost labour through sick days. Work related stress is a serious problem in society leading to poor health, disease, and death. Take the opportunity to enlist the services of a professional Therapist who will educate about the benefits of relaxation and massage.
How Can Massage Benefit Depression?
Massage therapy benefits those suffering from depression in a number of ways. It does so by:
- Reducing emotional and physical pain in the body.
- Stimulating the release of the feel-good Endorphins, and neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Serotonin. It does so by applying pressure to the nerve cell receptors underneath the skin which trigger their release.
- Creating a calming effect by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the levels of stress-related chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol.
- Altering brain wave activity, generating feelings of relaxation by stimulating alpha brain waves.
- Stabilising blood sugar that when unregulated can trigger mood swings.
- Increasing immunity that may be compromised in states of Depression.
- Relieving breathing difficulties and improving overall lung function.
Benefits of Massage for Depression
Massage may help those suffering from depression overcome:
- Low self esteem, insomnia, anxiety, chronic stress, eating disorders and irregular appetites
Other benefits of massage for depression include:
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved rational thinking and memory
- Feelings of well being and relaxation
- Increased creativity
- Clarity of mind
- A blissful mental and emotional state
Contact Kardinya Physiotherapy now on 08 9337 8530 to arrange your consultation.