Did you know that just a touch can be healing? Well, it’s true. Through therapeutic massage and bodywork the simple act of human touch has been shown to be a positive and beneficial experience. The effects of human touch through massage isn’t just “skin deep”, either. Massage has been shown to:
- It helps lower your current blood pressure and improves the circulation of the blood.
- It helps the body detoxify, because the act of massage moves toxic materials out through the lymphatic system.
- It helps during times of inactivity and illness, because it improves your muscle tone and prevents the muscles from atrophying.
- It can help to minimize emotional stress while promoting feelings of well-being.
How does massage give me all those benefits?
There is a constant and vicious cycle that can occur in persons who have tense muscles. A tense muscle is one that is usually contracted. If you have had a recent injury, the muscle could actually be in spasm. When muscles experience this tension or spasm, less blood will be able to get to the tissue. With less blood flow, there is less nutrients and oxygen supply to the muscle cells and the nerves which are related to them. The oxygen shortage can start a process in the body that causes a build up of lactic acid. The lactic acid build up and the lack of oxygen can irritate those related nerve cells, with will lead to the muscles contracting again!
Massage can break that cycle of contracted muscle – lack of oxygen/lactic acid build-up – contracted muscle. It helps with lactic acid and waste product removal from the muscle tissue. Once these waste products are removed, the dreaded contractions and spasms of the muscle may subside.
What benefits do different kinds of massage offer?
There are a wide variety of different massage styles, all which are beneficial. However, you may want to decide on a particular style based on your current preferences and needs. The styles of massage are:
- Swedish Massage – the most basic bodywork available. This technique is normally used for relaxation. Swedish massage includes long strokes, squeezing and kneading. Someone doing this type of massage is working to improve the circulation by attempting to loosen and relax superficial layers of muscle. This is a very gentle massage which is effective on muscles that are already sore from some kind of stress.
- Sports Massage – This type of massage gets to a much deeper level of muscle and connective tissue. Slow, hard strokes in addition to sustained finger pressure work together to get to deep contracted muscles and tendons. This massage helps speed the healing process of the muscles by reducing any swelling. This massage is wonderful when you have overdone it playing in the weekend football game.
- Reflexology and Zone Therapy – When looking at reflexology, you will be looking at foot massage. Reflexologists believe that every pain in your body is connected to a corresponding area on your foot. Pressure will be applied by the therapist to the top, side and bottom of your foot to help with any aches, pains, injury or illness in other parts of the body.
- Shiatsu and Acupressure – An invigorating type of massage! You will not just be massaged by fingers, but by fists and elbows as well. All are used to apply pressure to what are called “acupuncture meridians”, which these therapists believe are energy pathways in the body. Their massage was created to relieve any blocked energy pathways and return a balance to the energy flow.
Not all forms of massage work for everyone. There are even some cases where massage should not be considered. Talk to those who do particular forms of massage to figure out which is the right type for you.