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Everything You Need To Know About Massage Therapy

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If you’re stressed and sore, you may think there’s nothing you can do but take some over-the-counter pain relievers and plow through your day. According to the CDC, 20 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain, that’s 1 out of every 5 people. For those of you that continue to look for relief, massage therapy may be a solution worth trying.

Massage is a great tool for relaxation, pain relief, easing muscle tension and more. Learn more about the common types of massage and their benefits.

What is massage therapy?

Performed by a licensed massage therapist, massage therapy involves using different pressures, movements and techniques to manipulate muscles and other soft tissues in the body. With a goal of slowing down your nervous system, massage therapy can be used to release stress and tension, provide relief from symptoms, heal injuries and support overall wellness.

Types of massage therapy

There’s a wide variety of different types of massage therapy, massages come in many different shapes and sizes. Here are some of the offerings you might find on a massage therapy menu.

Swedish massage

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed with life, this massage may be able to bring relief. A Swedish massage is the classic go-to for major relaxation. Swedish massage is typically a full-body massage that uses a soft, gentle touch. It’s a great choice for men and women that are brand new to massages. It can help calm your nervous system. Swedish massage is also a good avenue for encouraging a relaxed emotional state of mind which can directly impact your muscles. One of the best massages for both mental and physical rejuvenation.

Deep tissue massage

Repeated activity can make your muscles get tight, you’ll see this a lot with athletes and any person that is active. However, you can get tight muscles from less active activities, this can include driving, sitting, or working on the computer. Deep tissue massage gets into your muscles and tendons to release that tightness, which then can provide pain relief. This massage is a good fit for people with general muscle tightness and chronic muscle pain.

Sports massage

While sports massages and deep tissue massages are similar in many ways, they also differ. A sports massage will often focus on the muscles that take a beating when you play sports or do another repetitive physical activity. Athletes and dancers use their bodies differently than the average person. A massage therapist with experience in sports massage can get in there to break up muscle tightness and address sports injuries.

Prenatal massage

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to a woman’s body, the added weight alone can cause foot pain, leg pain, hip pain, and lower back pain. Prenatal massages are great for helping moms-to-be relax and can help address the aches and pains of growing a baby. Prenatal massages are wonderful for taking pressure off the hips and can help with swelling in the feet and legs. And when mom is relaxed and feeling well, the baby benefits.

Trigger point massage

Trigger points, or knots in your neck and back, are caused by tiny muscle spasms or tight spots in the tissue. In a trigger-point massage, the therapist uses direct pressure to target those spots and improve blood flow to the areas so they can release. This type of massage can be helpful for people with chronic pain.

Lymphatic massage

Lymphatic fluid has a number of important functions, two important ones include maintaining fluid levels and removing waste products from the body. Lymphatic massage uses a soft touch that’ll help your lymphatic fluid move through the body easier. Lymphatic massage is a great option for people with inflammation and arthritis. It can also be beneficial to people who have had mastectomies, which usually involves the removal of lymph nodes.

Myofascial release

The fascia refers to a web of connective tissue under the skin, it supports the muscles and allows a person to move freely. With a myofascial release, your massage therapist will knead and stretch the muscles and fascia, this is done to work out tightness and tension. This specific massage type is considered to be a form of deep stretching and is often used together with other therapeutic massage techniques. Myofascial release are good for reducing tightness in your back, neck, and shoulders.

Hot stone massage

A hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy. It’s used to help you relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues throughout your body. If a person is experiencing muscle tightness and pain, insomnia, soreness, or stress, you may want to consider trying a hot stone massage. During a hot stone massage, smooth, flat, heated stones are placed on specific parts of your body. The stones are usually made of basalt, a type of volcanic rock that retains heat.

Health benefits of massage

As we learn more about massage therapy and continue to run studies, we’re learning that massage has many benefits. Massage therapy may be beneficial for anyone but it has been noted to help people that suffer from conditions that include cancer, heart disease, stomach problems, inflammation, and fibromyalgia. Before you get your massage, be sure you talk to your massage therapist about any medical issues prior to your first session. You should also consult with your doctor to ensure a massage will be safe for you.

Here are some of the benefits of massage therapy.

Reduces stress and anxiety

That feeling of calm after a massage can aid in reducing stress and anxiety, a study found. Your body has two nervous systems: a sympathetic nervous system that drives your “fight or flight” response in stressful situations and a parasympathetic nervous system that focuses on routine and day-to-day operations that lead to relaxation and rest. A massage is thought to increase your parasympathetic response, which can decrease feelings of anxiety and stress.

Reduce pain, muscle tension and tightness

Many studies have been published that show massage may help reduce pain that includes acute back pain, neck painheadaches and knee pain. While those results will favor that the relief is short-term, other cases receiving multiple 60-minute massage sessions a few times a week showed longer-term relief.

Improves sleep

Massage has the ability to decrease cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body, it can also increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, these are known neurotransmitters that can stabilize your mood. Studies have shown that massage therapy is beneficial for those who have insomnia related to menopause and congestive heart failure.

Improved blood circulation

Does massage help improve your blood circulation? A 2020 study found that a five minute manual leg massage could significantly increase circulation not only in the affected limb, but in the surrounding areas as well. A 2010 study came to a similar conclusion. Researchers measured the mean skin temperature of 17 healthy volunteers who underwent a 20 minute neck and shoulder massage session. In most cases, the increase in blood flow in the treated and adjacent areas has persisted long after the treatment was finished. 

Improves immune function

Is it possible to boost your immune system with massage? This study suggested that regular massages increase your body’s level of white blood cells, this specific type of blood cells is what attacks bad viruses in your body so you can heal and get better.

Improve energy

Studies have proven that massage therapy is good for you – we do know that it can reduce our fatigue. While massage does not directly increase energy, it helps reduce fatigue and may decrease symptoms that take our energy away, this can result in you feeling better. Studies have taught us that massage therapy can increase circulation, reduce pain and stress, improve our sleep quality and help with our immunity – all of these make us feel better, more energized and less fatigued.

Constipation relief

For anyone that has been dealing with constipation after surgery, this study showed that an abdominal massage may help you with bowel movements. Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems in the United States. Approximately 16 out of every 100 American adults experience symptoms caused by constipation.

Regular massages can relieve constipation by helping you release gas and waste products. They may also help treat any underlying or accompanying conditions. For example, regular massage can reduce stress and in turn reduce pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Reduce fibromyalgia symptoms

When it comes to improving mood, sleep, and memory, these studies have shown that using massage regularly for over 5 weeks may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, this is a chronic illness that causes muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue. This study saw similar results – it shown massage therapy can be effective in easing pain for people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Relieving cancer pain

For men and women that are taking cancer treatments, the physical, mental, and emotional toll is unprecedented. No words can describe what they’re feeling. Many have turned to massage to help lessen cancer pain, increase relaxation and improve quality of life.

There’s been a fair amount of studies that have been performed to see if massage can help reduce cancer pain. While some of these studies have suggested that massage therapy doesn’t improve cancer pain – others have shown a positive impact.

Who should try massage therapy?

A lot of you reading this article can benefit from massage — it’s a great way to improve wellness, help with pain, ease stress, and much more. If you do have a medical issue, please make sure you check with your doctor and have a conversation with your massage therapist.

For any of you that are pregnant, prenatal massages are safe. In fact, they can be healthy for you and the baby. We still recommend consulting with your treating doctor to ensure massage will be safe for you prior to booking a prenatal massage.

If you do have any questions about massage therapy that weren’t answered here, please be sure to check out our Help Center.

Not sure what type of massage is right for you? No worries, you don’t need find the perfect massage prior to booking an appointment. Many massage therapists specialize in using multiple massage techniques to address your unique concerns. This is why it’s important to tell your massage therapist exactly how you feel, that way they can treat your specific conditions and you can experience a great beneficial massage therapy session.

The different types of massage aren’t exclusive from one another. A massage therapist uses a combination of techniques to help you relax, get rid of tight muscles and address other concerns.

Try a massage with Soothe

Did you know that the Soothe Network of massage therapists are professionally licensed? It’s true, all Soothe massage therapists are required to have a license prior to joining. This ensures you’re going to get a certified therapists for your massage therapy.

And since you can book your massage right at home, you’re just a few clicks away from a professional massage at home! Here’s the link to book your massage.