Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. It helps heal and prevent pain, promote health and enhance well-being. I am a big advocate of massage therapy and always encourage my clients to make it an important part of their self-healing journey.
Not only is massage beneficial in helping heal the body, but also in preventing pain. In today’s busy and stressful world it is not uncommon to experience tight muscles, aches or pains. Often we only seek the help of a massage therapist when this tightness or pain becomes too much to handle. But regular massage therapy input is also incredibly beneficial for preventing these symptoms occurring in the first place.
There are many types of massage therapy including (but not limited to):
Swedish Massage: One of the primary goals of Swedish massage is to relax the body. It is one of the more gentle forms of massage and uses long strokes in the direction of the blood flow returning to the heart.
Deep Tissue Massage: This is similar to a Swedish Massage but deeper pressure is used. This deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension by focusing on the deepest layers of the muscle tissue, tendons and fascia.
Trigger Point Massage: A trigger point is an area of tightness (or a knot) within muscle tissue that causes pain to be felt in another part of the body. For example, a common place to have a trigger point is in the muscle that runs between your neck and shoulder. Two common symptoms that this trigger point can cause is neck pain and tension headaches. You may have also heard this called referred pain.
Hot Stone Massage: This massage promotes deep muscle relaxation by placing smooth, water-heated stones at key points on the body. The deep heat of the stones also helps relax muscles, reduce tension and increase circulation and metabolism.
My advice would be to experiment with these different types to see which gives you the greatest benefit. It is also important that you find a massage therapist you like, trust and who has your best interests at heart. If you aren’t happy with a massage experience you are fully within your right to shop around until you find a therapist, and style of massage therapy, that makes you feel good.
So what are the benefits of massage therapy? Again these are numerous and I have just listed the ones associated with the healing and prevention of physical pain. These include:
- Increased relaxation by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine.
- Decreased stress by dampening the production of cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Accelerated healing by increasing blood flow, releasing the hormones that help us repair and increasing nutrition to our injured cells and tissues.
- Assisting with pain relief by triggering the body’s release of our natural painkillers (endorphins).
- Improving circulation which nourishes our cells and improves waste elimination from our muscles and skin.
- Providing relief for tight muscles and increases their flexibility.
- Alleviating general stiffness.
- Interrupting the pain cycle by stimulating the large pressure nerves that over-ride the smaller pain nerves.
- Releasing nerve compression.
- Decreasing swelling (or oedema).
- Improving sleep which is essential for restoring, rejuvenating and repairing our body.
- Increasing energy and a sense of well-being.
If you are someone who experiences stiffness, tight muscles or general aches and pains then I would really encourage you to invest in yourself by seeing a massage therapist regularly. And even if you don’t have any niggles right now, please keep in mind that massage therapy can help prevent these occurring in the future.
It is up to you now to make a commitment to begin looking after your body in the best way possible. I would also love to hear what your favourite type of massage therapy is, so please feel free to share with me in the comments below. And if you have a massage therapist that you highly recommend I would love for you to give them a shout out, as I am always looking for people to refer my coaching clients to.
Yours in Healing & Health,
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