The Healthy Benefits of Massage Therapy

The Benefits of Massage Therapy

According to the Northwestern Health Sciences University School of Massage, the act of massaging is a "manual manipulation of soft body tissues to enhance an individual's health and well-being." Within the area of massage, there are dozens of different modalities. The two main categories into which all types of massage fall are relaxation and rehabilitation. The styles of massage most recognizable to the average person are the Swedish massage, total-body, muscle and joint, and relaxation-based therapy.

Other familiar styles include reflexology, deep tissue, aromatherapy massage, hot stone, Shiatsu, and Thai. Those who have studied the benefits of massage, along with those who have made massage a part of their regular health regimen, say the benefits are both palpable and palliative. Some reported that the rewards of regularly scheduled massage treatments can be the lessening of pain due to fibromyalgia, headaches, sport injuries, soft tissue injuries, and myofascial pain syndrome.

Some research has shown that massage assuages the severity of anxiety, stress, insomnia, and digestive tract disorders. Experts who are associated with the Mayo Clinic Health System explain that this alternative medical treatment can often generate feelings of connection, caring, and comfort and can be a strong tool to add to an overall healthy lifestyle program.

After choosing the style of massage you want and communicating with the massage therapist concerning your expectations and preferences, you should be ready to begin this luxurious, healing, and delightful journey. Many therapists recommend that a novice begin his or her massage experience with the basic Swedish massage. The most important effect of this type of massage is that it relaxes the body. If, at any point during the session, you are not enjoying the sensations in your body, you are expected to let your masseuse know.

The first step is to lie down on the massage table with your face in a cradle that lessens any strain in the neck. The room will probably have dimmed lights or, in some cases, only candlelight. You will be covered in a clean, often warmed, sheet or towel, and the therapist will cover all the portions of your body that are not being massaged at that time.

Often therapists will have natural scent wafting through the air to relax you and to delight your senses. You will be given the choice of removing all clothing or remaining in your underwear, whichever makes you most comfortable. Once the therapist begins, the first touches are gentle, soft, and calming. Most masseuses use a warm massage oil on their hands to allow for a silky smooth glide as their hands move over your bare skin.

The muscle tissue is warmed as the therapist uses strokes known as "effleurage," in slow, smooth movements or faster, invigorating rubs. Other types of manipulation techniques that will be used are the "petrissage" or kneading, pulling, and lifting of the soft tissue and "cross-fiber friction" which isolates specific spots where circulation needs to be restored.

Once you have begun to make massage a part of your regular healthy lifestyle, most clinicians suggest that keeping a schedule of weekly sessions is vitally important. Those who do so report decreased pain, improved flexibility, increased serotonins, reduction of stress, and improved circulation. Many people who have a massage every week say the main reason they adhere to regular attendance is because it gives them a predictable dose of "unwinding time." They add that they make their massage time a priority in the same way that they stick to a healthy diet.

  •  The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that clinical studies have shown that massage therapy relieves chronic back pain, creates a stronger bonding between mother and infant, and reduces recovery time following an injury.
  • The University of Minnesota has released research that shows that massage therapy may lead to decreased nerve compression, relaxed muscle tissue, and increased range of motion.
  • A fact that has long been supported in the alternative medical community, and is now being lauded by the western medical knowledge base, is that massage is healing, restorative, and calming, among its many other benefits.

No longer just for the elite, massage is now be attainable for most of the world's population. Perhaps now is time for individuals to take charge of their health and wellbeing and start scheduling weekly massages.

MassageTherapy.com, a public education site powered by the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, quotes an expert in the field. " You need to consider how you felt before the session and how you felt after, and then look at how long you maintain that," says Pieter Sommen, the chair of the eastern department in the Swedish Institute School of Massage Therapy in New York. That, they say, will contribute to how long you want your session to be, as well. London's Thai Kosai Massage Therapy Salon offers 30 to 90 minute massages, along with a shorter foot massage treatment. In general, however, they say their massage appointments last 60 minutes. According to Women's Health Magazine's Leah Fessler, massages should be a regular part of your lifestyle if you expect the therapy to make a difference. She suggests that individuals get a massage as frequently as possible

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