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Massage is purported to have an array of benefits, including alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, back pain, asthma, fatigue, and even HIV. A new study shows there are sustained, cumulative beneficial effects of repeated massage therapy. The effects persist for several days to a week and differ depending on the frequency of sessions. Results of the study were reported online in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Study researchers, led by Mark Hyman Rapaport, examined the biological effects of repeated Swedish Massage Therapy and light touch intervention. In a prior study, the researchers found that healthy people who undergo a single session of Swedish Massage experience measurable changes in their body’s immune and endocrine responses. “We expanded the study to show the effects of repeated massage because we believed the frequency of massage, or the interval between massages, may have different biological and psychological effects than a single session,” explains Rapaport, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.
The study was conducted over a five-week period of time, assessing neuroendocrine and immune parameters. Study volunteers were randomized into four intervention groups to receive a concurrent five weeks of Swedish Massage once a week or twice a week, or a light touch control once a week or twice a week.
“We believe that understanding the mechanisms of action underlying the effects of massage and light touch in healthy individuals − including the effect of different frequency regimens on different biological systems − will help to guide the design of studies aimed at specific therapeutic effects for targeted populations.”
The study was conducted at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Additional studies are being conducted at Emory.
Who should try massage therapy?Many of us can benefit from a massage — it’s a great way to improve wellness, help with pain, and more. If you have a medical condition, you should check with your doctor and have a conversation with your massage therapist. For those who are pregnant, a prenatal massage can help alleviate pain and swelling. “There are so many good reasons to see a massage therapist,” Bodner says. Not sure what type of massage is right for you? You don’t have to zero in on the perfect massage before booking an appointment. In fact, massage therapists often mix and match techniques to address your unique concerns. “The different types of massage aren’t exclusive from one another,” Bodner says. “A massage therapist uses a combination of techniques to help you relax, get rid of tight muscles and address other concerns.”
Which Massage Styles Are Best?You may have noticed that different massage styles are popular at different times. And you may have wondered whether each was just part of a passing fad or the latest, greatest massage technique? Even more important is how can you tell whether the latest style will actually help you?
Styles used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. Most massage therapists have clients unclothe for a massage, but some do not. A massage can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. Before you can decide which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself a question. Do you simply want a massage for relaxation and stress control? Or do you need symptom relief or help with a certain health condition? Before booking a massage, let the therapist know what you’re looking for and ask which style the therapist uses. Many use more than one style. Or the therapist may customize your massage, depending on your age, condition, or any special needs or goals you have.
Swedish MassageThe most common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on the topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with the movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury. Four common strokes of Swedish massage are:
- Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue
- Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage
- Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
- Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand
Deep Tissue MassageDeep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff “trouble spots” in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin. Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage may be therapeutic — relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as a back sprain.
Sports MassageDeveloped to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport, sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes in training — before, during, or after sports events. You might use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.
Chair MassageEver gone to a county fair, music festival, or conference and envied other people getting chair massages? Passed by the chair massage section in an airport? Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to work at a company that offers 15- to 20-minute massages as a regular benefit. Onsite, chair massages are done while you’re seated fully clothed in a portable, specially designed chair. They usually involve a massage of your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.
Shiatsu MassageIn Japanese, shiatsu means “finger pressure.” For shiatsu massage, the therapist uses varied, rhythmic pressure on certain precise points of the body. These points are called acupressure points, and they are believed to be important for the flow of the body’s vital energy, called chi. Proponents say shiatsu massage can help relieve blockages at these acupressure points.
Thai MassageDuring a Thai massage, the therapist uses their body to move the client into a variety of positions. This type of massage includes compression of muscles, mobilization of joints, and acupressure.
Lymphatic Drainage MassageA lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage of your tissues designed to help increase the circulation of lymph fluids in your body. Lymph is a protein-rich fluid that moves throughout your body in lymph vessels. It scoops up things like bacteria, viruses, and waste, and carries them to your lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes then filter the fluid to get the impurities out of your body. The massage is usually done with light pressure with gentle, long strokes along the skin to increase the movement of lymph through your system.
Hot Stone MassageFor this kind of massage, the therapist places warmed stones on certain areas of the body, such as acupressure points. The stones may be used as massage tools or be temporarily left in place. Used along with other massage techniques, hot stones can be quite soothing and relaxing as they transmit heat deep into the body.
ReflexologyReflexology uses hand, thumb, and finger techniques to stimulate certain areas of the feet. These areas are believed to correspond to different parts of the body. The massage, then, is expected to promote health and well-being.
What is myofascial release?A myofascial release is a hands-on approach to managing pain and discomfort. Now don’t expect a gentle massage with aromatherapy and pan flute music. Instead, myofascial release can be an intense experience. During a session, a physical therapist, chiropractor or even massage therapist will massage, knead and gently stretch the muscles and fascia to work out knots. This bodywork technique also involves applying pressure to tight or sore areas to get them to relax. The pressure is applied with the therapist’s hands, elbows, or a massage tool like a foam roller or a ball. You might feel sore afterward, but when the soreness subsides, you’ll feel a lot looser than you did before.
Parts of the body that could use myofascial releaseThis pain management technique is really good for parts of the body that are used a lot or in fixed positions for a long time. These areas include the:
- Lower back.
Benefits of myofascial releaseWhen done regularly, you can:
- Improve your range of motion.
- Reduce soreness and help assist the tissue recovery process.
- Help the body relax overall.
- Improve circulation.
- Release tension, knots, and even stress.
Top Health Benefits of Regular Massage TherapyThe health experts at the National University of Health Sciences want you to know the top five health benefits of adding regular massage therapy to your health and wellness strategy. Massage therapy from a licensed practitioner can:
- Lower stress The long-term effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls. Massage therapy may relieve stress and conditions associated with it, such as tension headaches.For centuries, people have turned to massage as a way to de-stress. Indeed, recent studies confirm that massage significantly reduces physical and psychological stress. Clinical studies show that massage therapy increases the production of endorphins (natural chemicals that make you feel good), serotonin, and dopamine; while it reduces cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption; factors typically associated with stress
- Reduces Anxiety That heightened sense of elation after a massage isn’t just in your head. In fact, several recent studies confirm that researchers can actually measure the impact that massage has on individuals experiencing emotional trauma. Likewise, massage has also been shown to bring about a corrective effect for those suffering from deep anxiety.
- Eases Muscle Tension The complexities of modern suburban life have made Americans tenser than ever—both psychologically and physically. As a result, back injuries, joint stiffness, and muscle tension are ever on the rise. Unfortunately, this is a trend that medical experts don’t see changing. However, one factor that could soften the impact of muscle stiffness is therapeutic massage.
- Improves Overall Sleep Quality Maintaining good health is impossible without adequate sleep. The good news is that researchers have confirmed that massage therapy may significantly reduce the incidence of sleep insomnia. Furthermore, the effect of massage therapy on sleep isn’t limited to any one age group. A 2006 study by researchers from the University of Warwick found that massage helped infants aged six months or less sleep better and cry less. Testing in adults proved similar results as evidenced by a University of Miami School of Medicine study. These studies have also confirmed that massage promotes better sleep because it aids in the release of serotonin, which helps the body achieve a state of restfulness.
- Improve Flexibility Massage can stimulate the production of the body’s natural lubricants to keep flexibility at a maximum. By working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massages can improve your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury-prone.
- Promotes Greater Relaxation Massage helps you rest by reducing the cortisol level and triggering several brain chemistry responses which translate into extended periods of deep relaxation. In a study of the “effects of massage therapy on immune, hematological, and psychological state of adult subjects,” researchers found that “massage is capable of inducing psychological relaxation.”
- Strengthens the Lower Back There was a time when adults were highly mobile throughout the day. However, given the amount of time that we spend straining our necks and backs using mobile devices or sitting at our desks those days are long gone. Sadly, many adults have lower back pain for life in the information age. However, all is not lost. Therapeutic massage has been shown to alleviate back pain. In fact, According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, back pain sufferers experienced more comfort from therapeutic massage than those who were given a placebo.
- Relieves Sports Injuries Before massage therapy began making inroads in the medical sector, pro athletes and coaches had already adopted massage therapy as part of their fitness regimens. While evidence was initially scant, new studies backed by reputable sources are firming up the effectiveness of massage therapy in sports, thanks to its proven impact on medical test subjects.
- Enhances Athletic Performance Certain types of massages including sports massages are specifically designed to enhance athletic performance. It’s common today for athletes to receive massages at the arenas or training sites to help establish blood flow and to warm up muscles prior to a game or an event.
- Enhances Blood Flow and Circulation Therapeutic massage facilitates blood circulation by directing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to and from our muscles and internal organs. In turn, this improved blood flow leads to growth, recovery, and healing throughout the body. A 2014 study that appeared in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that massage therapy improved general blood flow. An earlier study published in Medical Science Monitor by Japanese researchers offered a similar conclusion.
- Increase immune function Medical research indicates that massage therapy can help boost immune system strength by increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer T cells,” which fight off viruses.Multiple studies have linked massage to better functioning of the immune system. Massage decreases cortisol, which is known for destroying your natural killer cells and gives your immune cells a boost. Massages can enhance blood flow, lower blood pressure and improve body function. Better blood circulation is part of the chain reaction that occurs in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.
- Beat PMS Studies have found that massage can lessen PMS symptoms like bloating, mood swings, and cravings.
- Improves ADHD Massages have been found to be effective in treating ADHD. In a recent study, ADHD adolescents who took ten massage treatment classes for two weeks rated themselves as more content than those in comparison who participated in recreation therapy. Researchers found that the patients with ADHD were less squirmy, and teachers of noticed more on-task behavior when compared with the recreation therapy group.
- Raise alertness Even just a 15-minute chair massage has been shown to boost alertness–a study showed by the Touch Research Institute showed improved responses to a series of math questions.
- Stop headaches Massages not only stop the pain but stop tension headaches as well. Getting a massage regularly can reduce the number of migraines one experiences over time as well as limit how painful each migraine is. Massage on a regular basis helps relax and de-stress the body. This alternative method reduces the chances of experiencing migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points. It can also ease the pressure brought on during a migraine or tension-related headaches. By focusing on the neck, shoulders, and head, massage can decrease the pain and discomfort brought on by a migraine or tension headaches.
- Prolong your youthful glow Massages increase blood flow, which encourages toxins to leave and nutrients to enter cells. A regular rubdown can make a big difference in your complexion and hair.
- Improve sleep There’s a reason many people doze off on the massage table. A massage increases delta waves, the brain waves associated with deep sleep. Massage can increase serotonin levels, which can naturally help individuals to experience a good night’s sleep. Massages are becoming increasingly and more popular as people are realizing the power of medicinal benefits that massages have to offer. Unlike medications, massages have no long or short-term side effects. Not only does it feel good, but it can also improve your health and quality of life
- Ease pregnancy pains Regular prenatal massages ease pregnancy pains and generally assist with shorter, easier labor. Sports Injury Centers offer massage services at all of our locations. All of our licensed massage therapists specialize in deep tissue massage, sports massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release therapy. Contact us for any questions or to make your next appointment.
- Boost mental health and wellness Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression (all associated with mental health) may be directly affected by massage therapy.Massage has long been thought to reduce depression. But several recent studies provide conclusive proof that therapeutic touch relieves those who suffer from depression. Furthermore, there is research that validates the impact of massage therapy in alleviating perceived pain and anger. reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of anxiety attacks and mood swings.
- Manage pain Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings highlight the role of massage in pain management.Massage therapy is often overlooked as a treatment option when you’re suffering from pain. Medications and more invasive treatments are often prescribed, but they’re really just covering the problem. Massage therapy can be particularly helpful for people living with or undergoing treatment for serious illnesses, such as cancer. Various studies have shown that massage can relieve fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression, and nausea in cancer patients. People with chronic pain often turn to massage therapy to help naturally improve their quality of life. Massage can increase a person’s serotonin level, which causes the body to reduce pain naturally. Around 35 percent of all people who receive massages experience less pain associated with stiffness, soreness, injuries, and chronic health conditions. Massages have been found to effectively relax muscles and stiff joints. Massages also reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome characterized by generalized pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, sleep alterations, headache, and muscle spasms. One study by the University of Miami School of Medicine found that massage therapy helped people with fibromyalgia feel more relaxed and helped with tender point pain and decreased their levels of substance P (a substance that sends pain signals around your body). When the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at different solutions for chronic lower back pain, the researchers found that massage was the most effective treatment for reducing back pain. Provides Muscle and Joint Pain Relief The body of evidence that supports using massage for the treatment of pain in the muscles and joints is rock solid. Whether it’s chronic back pain, knee osteoarthritis, hand arthritis, or any other form of rheumatism; evidence suggests that massage not only reduces pain but improves range of motion and overall function. A holistic approach is sometimes the best choice when it comes to physical medicine and treating pain. At Integrated Body and Medicine, our team helps you get the specialized care you need when you can’t seem to kick your pain to the curb. Our team consists of expertly trained professionals who offer a number of different types of pain-relief therapy.
- Diabetes Massage therapy has been recommended for diabetes for over 100 years, helping to restore proper use of insulin, and lowering inflammation.
- Arthritis Pain A massage that involves applying light pressure to your joints and the tiny pressure receptors under your skin could help ease your arthritis pain. Massage can increase blood flow to your joints and boost your circulation throughout your body, which could help increase your mobility and flexibility.
- Improves Posture Sitting in front of a computer all day or standing on your feet enduring hours of manual labor can cause tension in the neck and back. This can result in poor posture. Massages can help the body to reinforce healthy and natural movements. Your muscles can relax and loosen with a massage and allow your body to position itself in a natural pain-free posture.
- Additional Advantages of Massage The benefits don’t end with the list above. There are many others. For example, recent studies have documented a correlation between therapeutic massage and improved cardiovascular health. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine confirms a noticeable dip in blood pressure after a professional massage session. There are many other benefits of massage. However, the points above are among the most cited. So what are you waiting for, book a massage today and take care of yourself.
Understanding massage therapyMassage therapy eases muscle tension and promotes a sense of well-being and relaxation. A licensed massage therapist who’s been specially trained performs this type of therapy. Massage is a mixture of techniques that allows the massage therapist to both manually manipulate your muscles and ease soft tissue tension throughout your body. Not only is it a benefit for your muscles, but other parts of your body as well, including:
- Connective tissue
- Heal injuries
- Support overall wellness
- Relieve pain symptoms
- Promote relaxation
- Improve physical fitness Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from massage therapy-massage can reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.
The Benefits of Medical Massage | Memorial Sloan Kettering
Massage Therapy and Bodywork A-Z
Dr. Oz on the Health Benefits of Massage Therapy
Pregnancy MassageDuring pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling, and relieving muscle and joint pain. Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. Using specially designed massage pillows, the massage therapist will help get you into a comfortable position for this type of massage.
More Health Benefits of MassageMany types of massage offer benefit beyond simple relaxation. Here are just a few of the health problems that may benefit from massage. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, though.
- Back pain. More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain.
- Headache. Another type of pain — headache — also responds to massage therapy. Some studies suggest that massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
- Osteoarthritis. In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
- Cancer. Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system. However, there are specific areas that a massage therapist should avoid in a cancer patient, as well as times when massage should be avoided altogether. Talk to your doctor before getting massage therapy if you have cancer.
- Depression. A review of 17 clinical trials found that massage therapy may help reduce depression. But for generalized anxiety disorder, it was no more effective than providing a calming environment and deep breathing exercises.
Two Different Types: Benefits of Massage TherapyThere are two different basic types of massage therapy for two different purposes. Rehabilitative Massage: This can also be called deep tissue, medical, therapeutic, or clinical massage in response to specific medical conditions. Some sessions focus on trigger massage which targets tight muscle fibers. It is used in clinics, hospitals, sports injury facilities, and chiropractic offices. Recreational Massage: This is known by different names, but one familiar name is the Swedish massage. You will find this type of massage in spas, resorts, and wellness locations to reduce stress, and anxiety as well as reduces pain.
Pain Massage Therapy: The ProcessYou can obtain the services of a massage therapist at a private office, in a hospital, in a nursing home, at a sports facility, in pain treatment clinics, and even in your own home. Before beginning any treatment, the therapist will discuss your symptoms, take a medical history and discuss what you want to happen. They will manipulate the area of discomfort to determine the exact source of your pain and evaluate how much pressure to apply. You most likely will lie on a table or if appropriate sit in a chair, wearing loose-fitting clothing. The area that needs to be massaged will be uncovered. Your therapist may use lotion to reduce the friction on your skin. The session can range from fifteen minutes to 90 minutes. Since people react to different levels of pressure, do not hesitate to inform your therapist if the pressure is too much or too little. Your therapist will be able to change their technique to suit your preferences.
Pain Message Therapy: Who Can Perform a Massage?There is both a national and state certification for massage therapists. In many instances, there is a requirement of 650 hours of training for the initial accreditation with the requirement of ongoing courses. Medical practitioners such as chiropractors and physical therapists may have certification in massage as well.
Pain Massage Therapy: EffectivenessWhile there are not many statistics about the effectiveness of American massage therapy, studies do show that there can be a reduction in anxiety for many clients through the stabilization of blood pressure and heart rate. Eighty- nine percent of the patients in a study from July 2016 to July 2017 agreed that massage was an effective method for reducing pain.
Pain Massage Therapy: Relief for 6 Conditions
- Low Back Pain: People with chronic low back pain found some relief, especially in cases where other more traditional methods of treatment were not effective according to clinical trials completed in 2008
- Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: In combination with other treatments, the massage therapy does reduce pain, stiffness, and fatigue, thereby improving the quality of life.
- Post-Operative Pain: Research has shown that massage therapy is effective in reducing different types of pain and anxiety in recovery from surgical procedures.
- Tension Headaches: Tension headache is the most common type of headache. Since massage therapy does relieve stress in many areas of the body, it can be useful in relieving tension headaches. It is an effective therapy for this pain.
- Arthritis: Not only does massage relieve the pain of osteoarthritis but it increases the range of mobility in joints.
- Pain from Cancer: A study of hospice patients with advanced cancer reinforced the fact that massage is beneficial for pain management.
- Healing Touch: Many patients benefit from the effects of touch which can produce feelings of well-being perhaps due to the release of serotonin and dopamine during the massage.
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*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.