ccidents, repetitive actions and everyday stresses can cause problems that sometimes seem to take up permanent residence in our bodies. If tension, pain or restricted movement keep you from living the life you want, massage can help. A gentle, effective therapy, massage can relieve pain and help heal certain conditions and prevent their return.
Massage, your ally in health
Research shows that massage decreases muscle tension, increases circulation and calms the nervous system. The result is a cascade of physical and mental benefits that can help alleviate a wide variety of conditions.
Stress. Massage therapy is one of the best known antidotes for stress. Reducing stress gives you more energy, improves your outlook, and has even been shown to reduce the likelihood of injury and illness. It can also relieve symptoms of conditions aggravated by stress such as asthma or insomnia, and provide excellent support for people in counseling.
Tight and painful muscles. Massage can stretch and knead away muscle tension in anything from a short-term muscle cramp to a habitually clenched jaw or tight shoulders. In addition, massage works gently on the nervous system, sending a message to muscles throughout your body to let go and relax.
Post-exercise soreness. After vigorous exercise, a build-up of waste products as well as microscopic tears in your muscles can leave you feeling tired and sore. Massage improves circulation, cleansing tissues of irritating wastes and bringing in oxygen and nutrients to relieve pain and speed recovery.
Pain or tingling in your arms or legs. Muscles can become so contracted that they press on nerves to the arms, hands or legs, causing pain or tingling. If this happens, a massage to release muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder or hip can bring relief.
Injuries. Massage can help heal injuries such as tendinitis, ligament sprains or muscle strains. It reduces swelling and inflammation by helping to remove wastes and bring healing nutrition to injured cells. In addition, certain techniques can make old scar tissue more pliable and, in new injuries, limit its formation.
Secondary pain. Massage can relieve secondary pain that may accompany and even outlast its original cause. Some examples are headaches from eyestrain, backache during pregnancy, or the protective tensing of healthy muscles around an injury.
Injury prevention. By relieving chronic tension, massage can help prevent injuries that might be caused by stressing unbalanced muscle groups, or by favoring or forcing a tight, painful area.
Pain or restriction in joints. Massage releases tight muscles that restrict joint movement. It also increases circulation to the joints, which can improve their general health and natural lubrication, and relieve pain from conditions such as arthritis.
Fluid retention. Massage and the resulting increased circulation helps drain your tissues of excess fluid caused by recent injury, surgery or pregnancy.
Postural problems. Massage releases restrictions in muscles, joints, and surrounding connective tissue coverings (called fascia). This frees your body to return to a more natural posture. Massage can also relieve the contracted muscles and pain caused by abnormal spinal curvatures such as scoliosis.
The ill effects of restricted activity. When you are forced to limit physical activity because of injury, surgery, paralysis or even normal aging, massage can relieve general aches and pains and improve your sense of vitality and alertness.
How will a massage feel?
Massage on normal tissue is almost always pleasant. In an area of an injury or chronic pain, massage may at first cause some discomfort which usually subsides quickly. Your therapist knows ways to minimize pain without sacrificing effectiveness. Tell your massage therapist if you feel any discomfort so she or he can adjust the approach.
Is massage always appropriate?
Because there are some conditions for which massage is not appropriate, inform your massage therapist of even minor problems. Also be aware that some conditions require ongoing communication between your therapist and primary health practitioner.
Your massage therapist
Massage therapists have extensive training that includes massage technique, anatomy and physiology, and a knowledge of when massage is and is not appropriate. Many local, state and provincial governments license massage therapists. Massage therapists are often certified by schools and many have specialized training.
Your personalized plan
On your first visit, your massage therapist will ask general health questions and review any referring practitioner’s recommendations. Your therapist will then assess your problem area to determine the best approach to help you. The appropriate frequency, duration and number of massage sessions will depend on your problem, its severity and how long you have had it, as well as your general health.
Your massage therapist can be an excellent resource for learning additional ways to release tension or help heal injuries outside of your massage sessions. She or he might share relaxing breathing techniques or gentle exercises to increase flexibility and support more efficient movements. You may also learn to relieve tension by contracting and releasing muscles, pressing “trigger points,” or using ice and heat.
A lifetime of good health
Therapeutic massage is a gentle therapy that calms the nervous system and increases circulation, creating a cascade of beneficial effects.
With its marvelous abilities to relieve pain and tension, speed healing and increase your energy and vitality, massage can be a lifetime ally in maintaining your ongoing good health.
© 2002-2010 Natural Touch Marketing™ for the Healing Arts
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