Massages were only available at luxury spas and upscale spas. Today, massage therapy has become one of the services provided in companies, clinics, hospitals, and even at airports. If you haven’t tried massage before, learn about its potential health benefits and what to expect during a massage therapy session.
What is meant by massage?
Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, and treating the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The massage ranges from light touch to deep pressure, and there are many different types of massage, and these common types include:
- Swedish massage. It is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, rubbing, deep circular motions, vibration and patting. This type of massage can help you relax and give you vitality.
- Deep massage. This method of massage uses slower, stronger strokes of the hand to target the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is usually used to help with muscle damage due to injuries.
- Sports massage. This massage is similar to Swedish massage, but is aimed at athletes to help prevent or treat injuries if they happen to them.
- Tension point massage. This massage focuses on the locations of tensile muscle fibers that may form in your muscles after an injury or overwork.
Benefits of massage
Massage is generally part of integrative medicine. This type of treatment is increasingly being offered day by day alongside standard treatments for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
Benefits of massage may include:
- Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
- Reducing pain, soreness and muscle soreness
- Improving blood circulation and increasing energy and attention
- Reducing heart rate and blood pressure
- Improving immune system function
Although more research is needed to prove the benefits of massage, some studies have indicated that massage may also be beneficial in dealing with the following conditions:
- Digestive disorders
- Myofascial pain
- Insomnia related to stress
- Lower back pain
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Nerve pain
- Soft tissue strain or injury
- Sports injuries
- TMJ pain
- Upper back and neck pain
In addition to the benefits of special conditions or diseases, some people enjoy a massage because it usually causes a feeling of care, comfort and connection.
Despite these benefits, massage cannot be considered a substitute for regular medical care. Let your doctor know that you are trying massage and make sure you follow any standard treatment plans that are specific to you.
The dangers of massage
Most people can benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate in the following cases:
- Having a bleeding disorder or taking anti-blood-clotting medications
- Burns or wounds during the healing phase
- Deep venous thrombosis
- Bone fractures
- Acute osteoporosis
- Low platelet count (acute thrombocytopenia)
Be sure to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of massage with your doctor, especially if you have cancer or have unexplained pain, and if you are pregnant.
Some types of massages can make you feel a little sore the next day. But the massage shouldn’t usually be painful or uncomfortable. If you start to feel pain or things are not going right during the massage, it should happen right away. Most serious problems result from excessive pressure during a massage.
What to expect during a massage
You do not need any special preparation before starting your massages. Before a massage therapy session, the therapist may ask you about any symptoms you may have, your medical history, and your goal of massage. The therapist will explain to you the types of massages and techniques he will use.
During a typical massage therapy session, you will have to undress or wear loose-fitting clothing. You can only take off your clothes to the degree that you feel comfortable. Usually, you will have to lie on a table with a sheet covering your body. The therapist will leave the room for you when you undress before the session and when you wear it again after completion. You can also get the massage while you are sitting on a chair while you are fully dressed. A massage therapist should perform a tactile assessment to determine areas of pain or muscle tension and to find out how much pressure to apply.
Depending on your preference, the therapist may use an oil or moisturizer to reduce skin friction. Inform the therapist if you are allergic to any of these ingredients.
Depending on the type of massage and the time available to you, a massage session may last from 10 to 90 minutes. Regardless of which type of massage you choose, you should feel calm and relaxed during and after the massage. You can breathe normally during the massage.
The therapist may play some music during the massage, or he may even talk to you, but if you prefer to be calm, let him know.
And if you feel that the therapist is pushing too hard while you massage, ask him or her to relieve the pressure. Sometimes, you may have a sore area of the muscle that looks like a knot. And you’ll likely feel discomfort when the therapist presses her during the massage. But if you start to feel pain, let the therapist know.
Find a massage therapist
Ask for a recommendation from your doctor or another trustworthy person. Most of the United States require a massage therapist to obtain a license, record, or certification.
Don’t hesitate to ask your potential massage therapist the following questions:
- Have you obtained a license, accreditation or registered number?
- What trainings have you received and how much of your experience are you?
- How many massages do you think I will need?
- What is the cost, and is it covered by health insurance or not?
Brief message on massage
Ditch any thoughts that massage is nothing but a way to lift your mood, to have fun or pamper yourself. On the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take care of your health and wellness, whether you have a specific health problem or are just looking for another stress reliever. You can even learn how to do self-massage or swap a massage with someone else in the house.