Is massage therapy good for your health?

You might think of a massage as a luxury, but did you know it has health benefits too?

Massage therapy is known as “the art of rubbing”. It dates back thousands of years and today, it’s used for different health purposes.

Massage therapists use different techniques. They, rub, press and manipulate muscles and soft tissue in the body. These practitioners usually work with their hands and fingers, but may also use their elbows, feet and forearms, depending on the type of therapy.

Before you’re given a massage, your therapist may ask you different questions about your medical history and will explain the process if you haven’t had a massage before. During the massage, you will either lay on a table in loose clothing or undressed (with a sheet wrapped around the areas not being massaged).

Oils or lotions make your skin easier to work with. Massages can range from a few minutes to an hour or longer.

Good to know

Although massage therapy is generally safe, with some conditions, a massage may have risks. Talk to your doctor and massage therapist if you have concerns.

  • Massages should not be done in any areas with blood clots, open healing wounds, skin infections, fractures, weak bones or where surgery has been done recently.
  • If you have a bleeding disorder or you’re taking blood-thinning medication, go for a gentler type of massage.
  • If you’re a cancer patient, talk to your doctor and preferably an oncologist who understands your condition before a massage.
  • Some massages, particularly deep tissue massages have risks. These include minor injuries or further damage to injuries, muscle aches, headaches, nausea, sleepiness, inflammation, and bruising.

Common therapies

Massage therapy can be used to relieve pain, reduce stress, increase relaxation, help with general wellness, rehabilitate sports injuries and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

There are different kinds of massages.

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Swedish massage (deep tissue massage)

This is the most standard type of massage therapy and it offers full-body relaxation. It’s helpful if you’re recovering from an injury. It was also designed specifically to help increase circulation and blood flow to large muscle groups. There are five basic strokes in Swedish massage therapy which include: effleurage (long, smooth strokes), petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting), friction (wringing or small circular movements), tapotement (thumping), and vibration (rocking and shaking movements).

Aromatherapy massage

Although it has similar techniques to the Swedish massage, aromatherapy massages are done with scented plant oils. These oils may include lavender and rose oil, known to soothe your muscles and stimulate healing. This massage therapy can help with headaches, insomnia, back pain, digestive disorders, and premenstrual symptoms. Before going for aromatherapy, make sure you aren’t allergic to any plant oils.

Deep tissue massage

If you have muscle knots, including a lot of tension, a deep tissue massage should do the trick. This therapy focuses on easing tension in the deeper muscle layers and soft tissue. This massage is generally more intense than most, so it’s important to tell your therapist if you’re experiencing any pain during your session. It’s particularly effective for helping chronic pain, stress injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Sport massage

This kind of massage therapy helps prevent and treat injuries, enhance athletic performance, reduce muscle pain and assists with restricted range of motion. It aims to focus on certain muscle groups and your body’s soft tissues to increase blood flow and flexibility. Sports therapy isn’t just for athletes! It can help you with general muscle pain. The strokes used during therapy are faster than those during a Swedish massage.