What is Massage Therapy?
Message Therapy, also known as Swedish massage, is the most common form of massage therapy in the United States.
Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and other movements focused on superficial layers of muscle using massage oil or lotion.
How Does Massage Therapy Work?
Message therapy improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues.
It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.
Why is Massage Therapy Beneficial?
Massage Therapy is beneficial for relaxation or for a variety of health conditions:
- Back Pain
- Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendinitis
- Stress relief and stress-related conditions
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Circulatory and respiratory problems
- Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation
Message therapy relieves stress. It is thought to help the body’s stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol.
Massage therapy also appears to enhance immune function.
How Will I Feel After a Massage?
Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. Occasionally, people experience mild temporary aching for a day.
Massage therapy is not recommended for certain people:
- People with infectious skin disease, rash or open wounds
- Immediately after surgery
- Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
- People prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage.
- Pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia or areas of recent fractures.
Addition Massage Tips
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage.
- If it’s your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.
The following is a quick guide to the some popular types of massage therapy to help you decide which massage therapy style is right for you.
1. Swedish Massage Therapy
This is the most common type of massage therapy in the United States. It is also known as Swedish massage or simply massage therapy.
Massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Swedish massage therapy can be very gentle and relaxing. If you have never had a massage before, this is a good massage to try first.
2. Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs.
The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender.
Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.
3. Hot Stone Massage
Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body.
The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.
4. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective issue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle.
Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain postural problems or recovery from injury. People often feel sore for one to two days after deep tissue massage.
5. Pregnancy Massage
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman’s body during the massage
Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains and reduces anxiety and depression. The massage is customized to a woman’s individual needs.
Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.
7. Sports Massage
Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity; but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to have one. It is also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn’t on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance.