Massage therapy has numerous psychological and physical benefits. This is a non-invasive way to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and swelling, reduce muscle tension and provide relaxation. This type of therapy is used as an adjunct to other treatments and can improve the overall results of a treatment plan.
Massage therapy can help with stress relief, manage low back pain, aid in recovery from sports injuries, reduce osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain, lower blood pressure, chronic neck pain, increase range of motion, reduce migraines, sleep-disorders, whiplash, chemotherapy-related nausea and trigger point release. There are multiple types of massage therapy.
Swedish: The most common type of massage uses 4 different types of massage strokes effleurage, petrissage, tapotement and friction massage. Effleurage involves long gliding strokes in a circular pattern. Petrissage is a kneading or rolling type massage which can be superficial or deep to break up soft tissue knots. Tapotement or percussion massage involves vibration, pounding, cupping type techniques in rapid strokes. Friction massage can be useful for breaking up scar tissue, loosen ligaments and reduce trigger points.
Myofascial release: This is based on the thought that fascia connects bones, muscles and nerves. An injury produces pain and tenderness at referred points. Gentle stretch and massage can reduce tension in the fascia. Even though pain is felt in one area, a different point may be targeted for massage.
Manual lymphatic drainage: This type of massage is used to control lymphedema or excessive soft tissue swelling in an extremity which can be caused by lymph node surgery or after a mastectomy. This involves additional training by a therapist and works to open lymph vessels to reduce the swelling in the arm or leg and encourage the fluid back to the heart. This may require other modalities such as sequential pumps and compressive garments for sustained results.
Other types of massage therapy include acupressure (digital pressure which may use an acupuncture needle), shiatsu (pressure applied at certain meridians or pathways) and reflexology (targeting specific areas on the feet which relate to distant areas of dysfunction).
Massage may not be the best therapy for you if you have any bleeding disorders, take blood thinners, have any active infections, history of cancer, severe osteoporosis, history of a blood clot, or low blood pressure. It is important to let your massage therapist know about these kinds of health problems.