Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Definition

Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues and consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and/or causing movement of or to the body.

Purpose

Generally, massage is known to affect the circulation of blood and the flow of blood and lymph, 

reduce muscular tension or flaccidity, affect the nervous system through stimulation or sedation, andenhance tissue healing. These effects provide a number of benefits:

  • reduction of muscle tension and stiffness
  • relief of muscle spasms
  • greater flexibility and range of motion
  • increase of the ease and efficiency of movement
  • relief of stress and aide of relaxation
  • promotion of deeper and easier breathing
  • improvement of the circulation of blood and movement of lymph
  • relief of tension-related conditions, such as headaches and eyestrain
  • promotion of faster healing of soft tissue injuries, such as pulled muscles and sprained ligaments, and reduction in pain and swelling related to such injuries
  • reduction in the formation of excessive scar tissue following soft tissue injuries
  • enhancement in the health and nourishment of skin
  • improvement in posture through changing tension patterns that affect posture
  • reduction in stress and an excellent stress management tool
  • creation of a feeling of well-being
  • reduction in levels of anxiety
  • increase in awareness of the mind-body connection
  • promotion of a relaxed state of mental awareness

Massage therapy also has a number of documented clinical benefits. For example, massage can reduce anxiety, improve pulmonary function in young asthma patients, reduce psycho-emotional distress in persons suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, increase weight and improve motor development in premature infants, and may enhance immune system functioning. Some medical conditions that massage therapy can help are: allergies, anxiety and stress, arthritis, asthma and bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries, chronic and temporary pain, circulatory problems, depression, digestive disorders, tension headache, insomnia, myofascial pain, sports injuries, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Description

Preparations

Going for a massage requires little in the way of  preparation. Generally, one should be clean and should not eat just before a massage. One should not be under the influence of alcohol or non-medicinal drugs. Massage therapists generally work by appointment and usually will provide information about how to prepare for an appointment at the time of making the appointment.

Precautions

Massage is comparatively safe; however it is generally contraindicated, i.e., it should not be used, if a person has one of the following conditions: advanced heart diseases, hypertension (high blood pressure), phlebitis, thrombosis, embolism, kidney failure, cancer if massage  would accelerate metastasis (i.e., spread a tumor) or damage tissue that is fragile due to chemotherapy or othertreatment, infectious  diseases, contagious skin conditions, acute inflammation, infected injuries, unhealed fractures, dislocations, frostbite, large hernias, torn ligaments, conditions prone to hemorrhage, and psychosis.

Massage should not be used locally on affected areas (i.e., avoid using massage on the specific  areas of the body that are affected by the condition) for the following conditions: rheumatoid arthritis flare up, eczema, goiter, and open skin lesions. Massage may be used on the areas of  the body that are not affected by these conditions.

In some cases, precautions should be taken  before using massage for the following conditions: pregnancy, high fevers, osteoporosis, diabetes,  recent post operative cases in which pain and muscular splinting (i.e., tightening as a protective reaction) would be increased, apprehension, and mental conditions that may impair communication or perception. In such cases, massage may or may not be appropriate. The decision on whether to use massage must be based on whether it may cause harm. For example, if someone has osteoporosis, the concern is whether bones are strong enough to withstand the pressure applied. If one has a health condition and has any hesitation about whether massage therapy would be appropriate, a physician should be consulted.

Side effects

Massage therapy does not have side effects. Sometimes people are concerned that massage may leave them too relaxed or too mentally unfocused. To the contrary, massage tends to leave people feeling more relaxed and alert