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Massage Therapy: Its Advantages and Types

Massage therapy is the technique of manipulating or kneading one’s muscles and other soft tissues with accurate pressure and gripping to encourage overall health and well-being. Due to its incredible benefits, massage therapy has been one of the earliest therapeutic practices in many ancient cultures, namely Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Chinese etc. Thus, this blog will address several advantages of massage therapy and its types.

7 Advantages of Massage Therapy

Here are the 7 advantages of massage therapy that everyone should know:

1. Relaxation and Stress-Relief

Massage is more than just a feel-good response of the body. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in rest and relaxation response. Eventually, the body will lower its heart rate, slow down breathing and lower your blood pressure. Increasing your parasympathetic response can decrease anxiety as well. It can effectively reduce the cortisol hormone in your body that is produced when your body is under stress.

2. Relieve Body Pain

Massage can be of great use in relieving pains like neck pain, acute back pain, knee pain and headaches. Massage therapy increases blood circulation into the muscles and brings more oxygen and nutrients to soft tissues. As a result, it reduces tension and allows muscles to relax. Moreover, results show that short-term multiple massages of 60 minutes per week are more effective than fewer long-term massages.

3. Boost Immune Function

Massage increases blood circulation and lymphatic flow that circulates healthy nutrients throughout the body and filters metabolic waste. This also enhances the lymphocyte level in the body which helps the immune system to eliminate harmful substances from the body. Furthermore, stress is another significant immunosuppressor. As discussed earlier, massage can be helpful to reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone.

4. Improves Physical Fitness

Massage stretches and loosens shortened and stiff muscles, restoring range of motion. Additionally, it can stimulate flaccid and weak muscles. This will promote improved posture resulting in efficient movement and prevent future postural injuries. Moreover, massage encourages the muscles to build mitochondria within the body’s cells and circulate nutrients all over the body, enhancing overall health and physical fitness.

5. Improves Sleep

Massage encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters to stabilise your mood and help you fall asleep. In addition, it reduces stress and anxiety, allowing improved sleep. Besides, a trigger point massage can also help improve sleep quality as it focuses on releasing specific sore spots or muscles, reducing physical discomfort.

6. Relieves Cancer Pain

Cancer patients can find a massage helpful as it helps relieve pain during their treatments. It can also significantly increase relaxation and enhance quality of life. Furthermore, people undergo severe physical and emotional breakdowns, causing more stress. Therefore, massage can be a great option to improve their physical as well as emotional well-being by releasing stress to a certain extent.

7. Reduces Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Living with fibromyalgia can be very challenging as it involves chronic joint pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Massage therapy can be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia to decrease pain and improve overall well-being alongside clinical attention. As massage helps in releasing serotonin and dopamine, it may help patients to fall and stay asleep for a required amount of time. 

Types of Massage Therapy

Here are some types of massage therapies you might find suitable for you:

1. Deep Tissue Massage

Muscles become tight from less activity like long-time sitting, driving or hunching and from repeated use. Deep tissue massage is an effective massage technique with harder pressure or deeper strokes to release tension or tightness of muscles. It uses firm pressure and slow strokes to massage deep layers of muscle and fascia, the connective tissue surrounding your muscles. Besides, it is also beneficial for people recovering from injuries, chronic muscle pain etc.

2. Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a classical go-to massage for ultimate relaxation using a gentle touch all over the body. This type of massage energises the body and helps calm your nervous system, enhancing overall health. It involves actions like kneading, vibration, percussion, tapping and rolling. Moreover, it also promotes a relaxed emotional state of mind, which, in turn, will boost your muscles.

3. Trigger Point Massage

A trigger point is a tight spot in the tissues of skeletal muscles’s fascia, such as in your neck areas or back. A trigger point massage focuses on these target areas to help them release. It uses direct pressure to increase blood flow to those areas. This massage helps relieve your pain by bringing more oxygen to that area and encouraging the muscle to release. Hence, it can be very useful for people with chronic pain.

4. Sports Massage

Sports massage is a specialised and focused massage technique that targets muscles used in specific sports. It employs various techniques to reduce muscle pain, enhance recovery, and improve overall range of motion and flexibility. This massage is very similar to deep tissue massages. However, it requires a skilled massage therapist with experience in sports massages to address sports injuries effectively. 

5. Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic fluid is crucial in removing waste materials from the body and maintaining fluid levels. Lymphatic drainage massage refers to a massage technique that helps relieve swelling resulting from medical treatment or illness that blocks your lymphatic system. This type of massage helps lymphatic fluid flow freely throughout the body. It can be helpful for individuals with conditions like arthritis, mastectomies, etc.

6. Prenatal Massage

A prenatal massage refers to a full body massage to help women in pregnancy reduce stress hormones and relax muscles. It is also effective in relieving swelling in the feet and legs and relaxing the hips. This type of massage is closely similar to Swedish massage except in body positioning to ensure the safety and comfort of both the baby and the mother. If a mother feels relaxed, it benefits the baby as well.

7. Myofascial Massage

Myofascial release therapy is a form of deep stretching to manage myofascial pain. ‘Fascial’ means the web of connective tissue under the skin that supports muscles throughout the body to move freely, whereas ‘Myo’ means muscle. Therefore, this therapeutic massage technique involves kneading and stretching the muscles and fascia to open stiff areas in your fascial tissues. It is very helpful for opening up stiffness in the neck, shoulder, back etc.

Therefore, massage therapy has become profoundly relevant to humankind’s well-being because of its role in pain management, rehabilitation, and overall health. As our lives become more hectic, the importance of massage therapy in promoting relaxation and healing is increasingly significant. Moreover, it fosters a balanced and rejuvenated society, ensuring physical and mental vitality for generations to come.

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