What is Massage Therapy?
It has been long understood that touch therapy has the power to foster tissue repair and bring about healing, and modern research also shows this to be true. Massage therapy works with the body’s own healing mechanisms by increasing circulation, facilitating immune function, regulating the nervous system, and promoting more fluidity and ease of movement. To heal the body, proper circulation is paramount. While massage therapy is often used for managing stress and relief from muscular pain, it can effectively treat a host of health conditions.
What to expect on first Massage Therapy visit?
Your massage therapist will review your intake form and discuss the primary reason for your visit. This includes reviewing your short and long term goals. Then, the massage therapist will leave the room, and you will disrobe, always to your comfort level (some styles allow you to remain fully clothed if that is your wish). After disrobing, you will get on the table under the sheet and blanket. The massage therapist will let you know if they want to start face up or down. When you are ready, the massage therapist will gently knock and return back into the room.
Your massage therapist may use different massage styles, and they will help you decide which would be best for you. They may use a variety of techniques with a combination of hands, fingers, knuckles, forearms and elbows during a typical session. Sometimes oils, lotions or liniments will be applied to facilitate the goals of the treatment. If you prefer no topicals used or you have a specific sensitivity to a substance or smell, just let the massage therapist know, and they will modify as needed.
After treating one side of the body, you will be asked to turn over. You will be appropriately covered at all times, and the massage therapist will continue the treatment on the other side of the body. There are occasions where the patient is not asked to turn over if more focus is needed in one area, but this will be communicated to you.
The depth of the treatment is always to your tolerance. If you ever need more or less pressure, let therapist know, and they will be happy to adjust the pressure so it is comfortable for you. If you find yourself holding your breath or tensing up, the therapist will make adjustments. There is no reason for you to be uncomfortable during a session. It is a misconception that the deeper you go the better it is. You may be asked to breathe deeply during sustained pressure or movements to allow your body to relax and soften into the technique being used.
Common techniques that may be used during a massage therapy session:
- Trigger point therapy
- Acu-point manipulation
- Myofascial release techniques
- Neuromuscular therapy
- Active and passive movement
- Joint mobilization
Depending on your goals, the massage therapist may discuss certain movements, lifestyle modifications, or nutritional considerations before, during, or after the treatment. If the recommendations ever seem overwhelming or not enough just let the therapist know and they will help create a plan that works well for you.
What to expect on subsequent Massage Therapy visits?
When you return for massage therapy, the therapist will ask how you felt after the last treatment and what changes you noticed. Any information you can share, whether your condition improved, worsened, or stayed the same will be helpful to the therapist so they can modify the treatment and/or recommendations to be sure you are getting maximum benefit. Your massage therapist will make modifications with you to keep you motivated and moving toward your health goals.
We want you to meet your goals, and if your condition is not improving, we may explore other care options. That may include a different style of massage, altering recommendations and self care, or referral to another type of provider (Naturopaths, Acupuncture, Chiropractor, etc). Some things take longer to heal. Your massage therapist can help you understand what a reasonable expectation is to have depending on your condition and goals.
Each time a the massage therapist gets to work with you they deepen their understanding of what techniques work for you, what you enjoy, what pressure is best, and how best to treat you to make you feel better and better after each session.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage Therapy is often used for aches and pains, injury rehabilitation, pain management, and stress relief. A primary benefit is to break up adhesions and scar tissue, or areas where connective tissue has become bound up and thick. Scar tissue is most often created during the healing process following surgery or injury. However, it can also be formed from chronic muscle tension, repetitive motions or overuse. Releasing these bound up areas can have a powerful effect in increasing flexibility and restoring proper joint and muscle function in the body.
Additional positive side effects of massage therapy include:
- Stress reduction, relaxation, and a feeling of well being
- Enhanced immune system response
- Better posture
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced numbness and tingling
- Increased blood flow and circulation
Depending on the style of massage, other conditions can also be addressed that are not often associated with massage therapy: