What Is Massage Therapy? Massage is the manipulation of the body by kneading, stroking, friction, percussion, and other methods applied with the hands, feet, elbows, forearms, or with tools such as stone, wood, ceramic, ivory, and the use of water, herbs, salts, and muds, any or all of which may produce directly or indirectly therapeutic effects, feelings of pleasure or pain, a sense of being nurtured and supported, an uplift of the spirit, and an overall improved well-being. - Robert Noah Calvert, author of The History of Massage
Who Can Benefit from Massage? Everyone! Human beings need touch. Numerous studies have shown how touch will facilitate a healthier and longer life in plants, animals, and humans. Not everybody is comfortable with full body massages, but these people can still benefit from simple, compassionate touch such as a handshake, nurturing hand on the shoulder, a hug, or a hand and foot massage.
What are the benefits? Physical (body) - relieve stress; promotes relaxation - relieves muscle tension and stiffness - alleviates discomfort during pregnancy - aides with cancer treatment - reduces scar tissue - reduces pain, swelling, and muscle spasms - increases joint flexibility & range of motion - enhances athletic performance - promotes deeper and easier breathing - improves circulation of blood - improves movement of lymph fluids - reduces blood pressure - improves posture - enhances the health and nourishment of skin - strengthens the immune system - treats musculoskeletal issues - rehabilitation post operation or injury - facilitates healing of strained muscles & ligaments
Mental (mind) - fosters peace of mind - helps relieve mental stress - improves ability to respond to stress - enhances capacity for calm thinking & creativity
Emotional (body & mind) - 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
How Frequent Should You Have Massage? Massage should be as routine as diet and exercise. It is a service you can provide for your body to prevent injury and stress, and form a strong balance between your physical and mental state. Depending on the amount of physical activity and other stresses your body endures during the week will determine how frequent your body could benefit from massage therapy. A person engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise or physically demanding job could benefit from a massage every week. Someone who also works in a prolonged position, such as at computer or working with tools, could also benefit from a massage once a week. However, for most people, a more realistic plan would be to have a massage once a month, where a therapist can be part of a treatment plan and aide in a client’s short-term and long-term goals and needs.
How Will You Feel After A Massage? You may feel a strong sense of bliss or state of relaxation. It is best to keep relaxing several hours after a massage in order to give your muscles time to recuperate. If a person decides not to rest after a massage, their muscles may tense up and/or risk injury. Your body may also feel sore the day after a deep-tissue massage. This feeling, known as therapeutic trauma, comes from the therapist causing small, micro-traumas in the muscle tissue in order for new blood to flood the tensed area and create new, healthy tissue. The body should be pain-free 1-2 days after a massage and feeling better than its previous state before the massage. Drinking plenty of water (1 L per 50 lbs. of bodyweight) is recommended and will help flush out toxins released from the muscle into the bloodstream and keep your muscle and skin cells hydrated.
Emotional releases may occur during or after a massage from old emotions, memories, and holding patterns stored in muscle tissue by the nervous system. If you experience strong emotions, please inform your therapist and continue with deep, slow breathing techniques. Remember that everyone has pain, and pain is simply a messenger from our brain to let us know which parts of our bodies are being affected by an imbalance. The great thing about pain is you have the power and you are the power to heal yourself.
Fascia (connective tissue) surrounding muscle tissue