The practice of massage therapy has a history dating back thousands of years. It has been referred to by various names throughout history but has one common thread of application. Regardless of the region or culture in which massage has been practiced, it was more commonly used to promote health and wellness often along side other medical treatments. Needless to say, the role of massage therapy has evolved across time. Today, we see a thriving and growing industry of professionals in careers ranging from spas to clinical practice. Still common misconceptions linger about the massage therapy industry. Here we will look at a few massage myths.
Myth #1 Massage Is Just A Luxury
It is easy to create an image of massage therapy as a luxurious and expensive service only available to the wealthy. Something that provide comfort and relaxation but is nonessential. In reality if we do a little research, pricing aside, massage therapy actually provides many psychological and physiological benefits. With the advancement of science and technology increasing amounts of research is being conducted focused on the mechanisms and effects of massage therapy.
For example, scientists are now able to prove with lab testing that massage therapy can reduce the level of cortisol in the blood stream. This explains precisely why massage therapy is so effective at reducing stress. Similar studies have been completed to demonstrate how massage may reduce pain for specific medical conditions or improve mobility and quality of life. The best part is that all of this research is guiding an entire industry of professionals to become educated and specialized practitioners to help their clients reach their goals.
Myth #2 All Massages Are the Same
A massage is just rubbing, kneading and manipulating muscle, right? So aren’t all massages really the same? The short answer, no. True the practice of massage involves the manipulation of soft tissues of the body, but that does not start and stop with just the muscles. The human body is a complex system. With the help of modern medicine we have come to understand that massage therapy can have a significant impact on multiple systems throughout the body. Therapists aren’t just working on muscles, they interact with the nervous system, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system and more. The key to doing this is by using specifically applied techniques to target areas of the body. The question then is, which type of massage should I get? It is easy to be overwhelmed by such a wide variety of styles such as Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial release, cupping or neuromuscular therapy. First of all it would be wise to check with your physician prior to getting a massage. After referring with your physician have a consultation with a massage therapist. They will be your best resource to helping you get the results you want.
Myth #3 Massage Therapy Does Not Help Pain
True massage therapy is not a magic treatment to cure all of your aches and pains, but it has proven to be an effective alternative or complimentary treatment to be used in pain management. In fact it is becoming increasingly common for massage therapist to be employed in physical therapy and chiropractic offices to incorporate their skills in other therapy programs. Also worthy of note is that in some cases massage therapy may be covered by your medical insurance. Regardless, if you are seeking massage therapy to manage pain it is highly recommended that you receive clearance from your doctor first. Check back soon for more details about how massage therapy helps reduce pain for specific problems.
Myth #4 Massage Therapy Does Not Help Athletic Performance
I know what your thinking. How can a therapeutic massage help an athlete perform better? While not directly improving the throwing accuracy of a pitcher or the speed of a sprinter, a skilled massage therapist can focus on the specific needs of an athlete to significantly enhance general performance. The first thing to know is that sport massage varies based on the situation the athlete is in. Are they preparing for an even or recovering from one? To prepare for an event a sport massage may be more vigorous to wake up the nervous system and warm up tissues in preparation for activity. This can reduce injury risks. In the recovery phase a sport massage may focus on relieving muscle tension, stress, pain and soreness or include a lot of stretching and myofascial release to ensure to improve tissue mobility for pain free range of motion.
Myth #5 Deep Tissue Massage Has to Hurt to Work
This is a big one. So often therapist have clients that request enough pressure to press wine. You know, “if it doesn’t hurt it isn’t working”. Joking aside, it is important to know that your massage does not have to be painful to get the results you want. It is true that some massage techniques can be uncomfortable, and clients can sometimes experience soreness after a massage, but that shouldn’t be the goal. Many times, I find it more effective to ease into problem areas and work on them deliberately with specific techniques. This was my clients don’t tense up or guard against pain losing the therapeutic effect. The most important thing to remember here is communication between the client and the therapist to ensure the client knows what to expect and the therapist is aware of the client’s response and tolerance.
Get A Massage!
Not sure where to start? Try a Swedish style massage. It’s gentler and more relaxing and is a good introductory point for people new to massage therapy. Also don’t forget to check my blog out from time to time for other useful post.