Benefits of Massage
An increasing number of research studies show massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins (enhancing medical treatment). Although therapeutic massage does not increase muscle strength, it can stimulate weak, inactive muscles and, thus, partially compensate for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from illness or injury. It also can hasten and lead to a more complete recovery from exercise or injury.
Research has verified that:
- Office workers massaged regularly were more alert, performed better and were less stressed than those who weren't massaged.
- Massage therapy decreased the effects of anxiety, tension, depression, pain, and itching in burn patients
- Abdominal surgery patients recovered more quickly after massage
- Premature infants who were massaged gained more weight and fared better than those who weren't
- Autistic children showed less erratic behavior after massage therapy
According AMTA, massage helps both physically and mentally.
Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
- Helps relieve stress and aids relaxation
- Helps relieve muscle tension and stiffness
- Alleviates discomfort during pregnancy
- Fosters faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments; reduces pain and swelling; reduces formation of excessive scar tissue
- Reduces muscle spasms
- Provides greater joint flexibility and range of motion
- Enhances athletic performance; Treats injuries caused during sport or work
- Promotes deeper and easier breathing
- Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymph fluids
- Reduces blood pressure
- Helps relieve tension-related headaches and effects of eye-strain
- Enhances the health and nourishment of skin
- Improves posture
- Strengthens the immune system
- Treats musculoskeletal problems
- Rehabilitation post operative
- Rehabilitation after injury
Mental Benefits of Massage Therapy
- Fosters peace of mind
- Promotes a relaxed state of mental alertness
- Helps relieve mental stress
- Improves ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately
- Enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity
- Emotional Benefits
- Satisfies needs for caring nurturing touch
- Fosters a feeling of well-being
- Reduces levels of anxiety
- Creates body awareness
- Increases awareness of mind-body connection
What Types of Dysfunctions Respond To Clinical Massage?
The following dysfunctions respond to clinical massage.
Massage and Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction
Pain and/or physiological dysfunction originates from identifiable points within muscles and their fascial tissues. These locations are known as trigger points because they often trigger distant reactions.
Scientists have developed extensive maps of such referred pain. They have also identified nearly a hundred dysfunctions that can have myofascial trigger point origins. Some of these are: carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ dysfunction, PMS, headache, diarrhea, dizziness, cardiac arrhythmia, indigestion, tennis elbow, urinary frequency, sinusitis, deafness, and blurred vision.
Massage and Fascial Plane Dysfunction
Fascia can be compared to the body's own version of "Saran Wrap." It covers most of the body in large, continuously connected sheets. Injury, postural patterns and chemical imbalances can cause these sheets to distort and bind to themselves and nearby tissues. Since all major blood vessels and nerves follow these fascial sheathes through the body, properly aligned and released fascia is vital to good health and the proper operation of the circulatory and nervous systems.
Massage and Neuromuscular Dysfunction
The smallest muscular activity requires that countless nerve impulses be sent to the muscle to be activated and to all of the adjoining and opposing muscles. For example, let us say that you want to flex your elbow. This requires that you must tighten the biceps and other associated muscles while simultaneously relaxing the triceps and other associated muscles. The combined nervous activity and muscular response must be precisely timed and exactly proportionate.
For more complex movements like rotating the head or taking a breath, the amount of coordinating activity increases exponentially. Unfortunately, the mechanism responsible for such coordination can break down and muscle fibers or whole muscles can actually lock in opposition to their normal activity.
Massage and Tonus System Dysfunction
When overused, muscles can lose their ability to understand how to relax. This is referred to as hypertonic. As a result, the muscles become overly tight. They tend to harbor myofascial trigger points, and cause stress on the muscles that oppose them and the joints that they cross.
Massage and Dermatomic and Spondylogenic Dysfunctions
If a nerve is pinched where it leaves the spine, or anywhere along its route, the area that nerve serves will feel pain. Many people have experienced such a problem with the sciatic nerve. It originates in the low back, but when pinched can make the knee, shin, or heel hurt. This is an example of dermatomic pain - literally translated - pain in an area of skin.
Massage and Spondylogenic Dysfunction
This occurs when the joints of the spine are compressed or otherwise impaired and cause their own special trigger point-type pain or dysfunction.
Both of these are successfully treated with clinical massage by loosening the muscles and other soft tissue that surrounds the affected joint or nerve.
Who Can Benefit From Clinical Massage Therapy?
If you suffer from any of the following disorders, you may benefit by clinical massage:
- Any chronic muscle or joint pain.
- A known condition of referred pain, such as "when my neck gets tense I get a headache. "
- Any recurring symptoms that seem to accompany or are precipitated by muscle lightness.
- Tight muscles that are limiting the mobility of a joint.
- Chronically fatigued muscles.
- Low energy level, especially when accompanied by muscle aches and pains.
- A recent muscle injury that generates pain or dysfunction in areas not seemingly involved in the injury
- Any visceral dysfunction that tests negative for conventional causes.
- Muscle pain that recurs in an area with no apparent new cause.
- A tendency for pain to spread to other muscles whenever a simple strain or injury occurs
People find that therapeutic massage can help with a wide range of medical conditions, including:
- Arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Asthma and bronchitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic and acute pain
- Circulatory problems
- Digestive disorders, including spastic colon, constipation and diarrhea
- Headache, especially when due to muscle tension
- Gastrointestinal disorders (including spastic colon, colic and constipation)
- Immune function disorders
- Myofascial pain (a condition of the tissue connecting the muscles)
- Premature infants
- Reduced range of motion
- Sports injuries (including pulled or strained muscles and sprained ligaments)
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction