There are many different types of massage, including these common types:
- Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
- Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
- Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
- Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.
What does existing science say about the benefits of massage?
Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. According to a 2011 study, massage helped people in pain feel and function better compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.
And massage will likely have a positive impact on:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Paresthesias and nerve pain
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in lifted spirits and often lower blood pressure. It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression.
A massage can promote healthy sleep. A number of studies have examined this link, and chalk it up to massage’s affect on delta waves, the kind of brain waves connected to deep sleep.
Research related to the impact of massage on blood pressure has in some cases shown significant results. Not surprisingly, massage appears to be effective for low back pain, chronic neck pain and knee pain that is the result of osteoarthritis.
In one 2010 study, researchers found massage increased a person’s disease-fighting white blood cells. The stress-reducing powers of massage can also help keep you healthy.
In terms of exercise science, studies generally show that massage is helpful for muscle recovery. As little as ten minutes of massage, as one study indicates, can curtail inflammation and encourage the growth of new mitochondria.
Still other research looks at the psychological and pain related benefits of massage. One study examined the effect of massage on a group of grieving relatives who had recently lost loved ones. Subjects shared that the massage times were a great consolation and source of both energy and rest during the transition.
Not surprisingly, the comforting effects of massage work with other kinds of pain and distress. Massage appears to significantly reduce depressive symptoms and in another study have immediate impact on advanced cancer patients’ perception of pain as well as mood. Patients recovering from surgery respond better to a combination of massage and pain medication than they do to medication alone. It’s interesting how this archive study noted that massage used to be regular protocol following surgeries but is limited now with the shifts in hospital efficiency protocols.
Children, not surprisingly, seem to respond significantly to the therapy in a variety of circumstances. From pre-term babies who gain more weight with regular massage to children who experience less nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy with massage, the therapy can offer clear physical advantages. Research measuring the impact of massage on infants’ melatonin secretion even indicates that parents can use massage to help coordinate their babies’ circadian cycles with environmental cues.
Massage therapy is an art as much as a science, with the right therapist it’s health and life-enhancing.
Contact the office today to inquire about setting up an appointment. Or see what availability we currently have.