Massage Therapy: Who Can Benefit From a Good Massage?
Every so often we will have somebody come into our clinic who is a little bit older and has never experienced massage therapy performed by a licensed massage therapist. The most common response from these massage clients is, “WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO TRY MASSAGE THERAPY?!?” It happens, almost without fail. Many people have different ideas about what massage therapy is and who it is for.
Massage therapy is really for just about everyone. In my clinic we have 6 massage therapists providing massage seven days a week. So as you can imagine I am referring my chiropractic patients for massage therapy often. In fact, besides chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy is the most commonly used treatment in our chiropractic clinic. In all of this time there are very few patients I have seen who I have not recommend massage therapy for.
The reason I am able to make so many of these referrals for my patients is that, when done by a licensed massage therapist, massage therapy is very safe. A licensed massage therapist (LMT) undergoes over 500 hours of training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology and technique training. They aren’t just giving back rubs. They are delivering skilled treatments with a specific focus to enhance health and relieve pain and stress.
There are many different massage therapy techniques out there. For example, Thai massage therapy is performed while a client is fully clothed, lying on a floor mat. Swedish (or relaxation) massage is performed while a patient is lying on a massage table. The technique used depends on the training of the LMT and the needs of the patient. On average, the LMTs working at Body of Health Chiropractic & Wellness Center practice about 4 different techniques. A client can request a particular type of massage therapy but most often our LMTs will select one or more techniques that will best suit the clients needs.
Here is a short description of some of the types of massage therapy we offer in our clinic as an example of what some of the different massage techniques do:
Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
Many people have the misunderstanding that deep tissue massage means the LMT will simply be pushing very hard on muscles. The term “deep tissue” actually is in reference to the fact that this technique is meant to cause some structural change to the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body. It’s not just a matter of mashing hard on the muscles. It is the skillful navigation of the spaces between the muscle tissue to reach structures that may be damaged or imbalanced. Deep tissue massage therapy is often used in combination with several other techniques listed below. Sometimes it involves active techniques which may require participation of the massage recipient contracting or positioning muscles as part of the massage.
Who can benefit from deep tissue massage? This technique is great to use with people who have injuries or problems with range of motion. It is commonly used to treat problems caused by postural stress, like long hours sitting at a computer (maybe even typing blog posts 🙂 ).
Swedish (Relaxation) Massage Therapy
This technique is very popular in spas and resorts. Swedish massage therapy consists of long, gentle strokes, mild percussion (drumming) and kneading of muscles. This technique is great for calming the nervous system and bringing blood flow to the skin. It is typically performed on a table after the client is dressed down to their comfort level and covered by a sheet. Some massage therapists will use scented aromatherapy lotions or massage oils to enhance the experience.
Who can benefit from Swedish massage? This is a great massage therapy technique for people who are just looking to unwind and reduce some stress. This gentle massage technique is excellent for people who may not be able to handle a great deal of pressure or who have a low pain tolerance. Whether the goal is to reduce anxiety and stress or to reward yourself Swedish massage has a wide appeal to many people.
Pregnancy Massage Therapy
At its best pregnancy is uncomfortable. At the work it is painful and can even be debilitating for some women. Pregnancy massage can help in either situation. There are some special considerations that must be made for pregnant women. Positioning of the client is a key concern as the safety of the baby must be considered. Also pregnant women may have swelling or other factors that could make massage less safe unless performed by a trained professional. However, this gentle massage is effective for alleviating the discomfort that inevitably comes with pregnancy. All of this postural stress is caused by the increased size of the belly and breasts and the spreading of the hips.
Who can benefit from pregnancy massage? Sorry fellas… this one is ladies only! Of course this is for pregnant mothers. Before receiving pregnancy massage you should always consult with your obstetrician to make sure it is safe for you. If you and your doctor decide this is a safe treatment for you then you can enjoy this type of massage right up until the day your deliver. There are some massage therapists who are even willing to attend the delivery of your baby.
Sports Massage Therapy
We work on a lot of athletes in our clinic. Many of these athletes are playing Division 1 sports and they rely on massage therapy to help them recover from workouts and games. When you are playing at that level taking good care of your muscles is critical to performance. A LMT trained in sports massage therapy will know the difference between the type of massage that should be delivered before and after training or a game to avoid injury and speed up recovery.
Who can benefit from sports massage therapy? As I mentioned above, it is great for athletes, of course. However, sports massage therapy isn’t just for elite athletes. It can help any level of athlete whether you are doing crossfit, cycling, hiking or running marathons.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy
This specialized technique uses heated basalt stones during the delivery of your massage. The stones may be placed strategically over points of stress and are also used to help knead muscles. Heat and massage are wonderful for relieving tension in the muscles.
Who can benefit from hot stone massage therapy? People who need some relaxation and tolerate heat well will enjoy a hot stone massage. It is a special treat and the heat can have some deep therapeutic effects.
There are many other forms of massage therapy available. This article hasn’t even covered all of the options we make available to our Corvallis massage therapy clients at Body of Health. If you want to learn more about the impact massage therapy can have or you are wondering what kind of massage therapy would best suit you feel free to give us a call or leave a comment on this post. We are happy to help!