What You Knead to Know About Massage Therapy

Research is beginning to suggest MASSAGE—may help improve your health. Massage therapists use their fingers, hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. Variations in focus and technique lead to different types of massage, including

  • Swedish – focus is general and the therapist may use long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping.
  • Deep tissue –  focus is more targeted, as therapists work on specific areas of concern or pain.
  • Sports massage – focus is the  “knots” or places of tissue restriction.
llustratons by Alan Defibaugh

llustratons by Alan Defibaugh

WHY GET A MASSAGE?

  • Some of the reasons may include but not limited to
    • Relieve pain,
    • Heal sports injuries,
    • Reduce stress,
    • Relax,
    • Ease anxiety,
    • Ease depression,
    • Aid general wellness.

Although scientific evidence on massage therapy is limited, some positive benefits have been reported. “Massage therapy has been noted to relax the nervous system by slowing heart rate and blood pressure. Stress and pain hormones are also decreased by massage, reducing pain and enhancing immune function,” says Dr. Tiffany Field, who heads a touch research institute at the University of Miami Medical School.

A study published earlier this year looked at how massage affects muscles at the molecular level. The findings suggest that kneading eases sore muscles after exercise by turning off genes associated with inflammation and turning on genes that help muscles heal. A recent NIH-supported study found that an hour-long “dose” of Swedish massage therapy once a week was optimal for knee pain from osteoarthritis, especially when practical matters like time, labor and convenience were considered. Other research suggests that massage therapy is effective in reducing and managing chronic low-back pain, which affects millions of Americans.

ADVISE: If you’re considering massage therapy for a specific medical condition, talk with your health care provider. Never use massage to replace your regular medical care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care professional. Every therapist and every massage is unique. If you decide to try massage therapy, work with different therapists until you find one that meets your needs. One of the best ways to get a great massage is to communicate with your therapist. Most will check in with you during your session for feedback, but—if not—speak up!

We thank the  NIH News in Health – Guest/Source Publication.