We believe in the benefits of therapeutic touch and see massage therapy as part of one’s overall health & wellness program. You could include massage therapy as part of your personalized health plan or to help relieve daily stress and muscular aches or pains.
The Benefits of Massage
Massage shifts the patient’s nervous system away from the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” stress response and toward the parasympathetic relaxation response.
Massage has been used for thousands of years because it:
- releases postural stress patterns held in connective tissue (fascia)
- relaxes tension held in muscle tissue
- increases blood circulation in the body, thereby reducing metabolic waste buildup and boosting cellular renewal
- increases the flow of lymph throughout the body, thereby boosting overall immunity
- decreases pain by stimulating the release of serotonin and endorphins
- improves sleep (which plays a crucial role in pain and healing)
- improves digestion and therefore nutrient assimilation
- increases body awareness
What to Expect from a Massage Treatment
Massage therapy treatments usually last for 30 to 60 minutes or as long as 1.5. For some conditions (especially chronic ones), Theresa may advise a series of appointments.
At the first appointment, Theresa will discuss your symptoms, brief medical history, specific results you desire from treatment, and other factors such as stress, activity levels and movement habits.
During treatment, you might be fully clothed or partially or fully undressed (in which case you will be covered by a sheet or towel; only the parts of your body that the Theresa is currently massaging are exposed). Sometimes oil may be used to reduce friction on the skin. Theresa may use other aids, such as ice, heat, or fragrances. Theresa can aid you in learning better movement and developing a deeper body awareness.
Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits
Massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from among 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers. Sometimes even forearms, elbows, or feet are used.
According to a 2007 American Massage Therapy Association survey, almost a quarter of all adult Americans had at least one massage in the previous year. And, they have a wide range of reasons for doing so. More and more people — especially baby boomers — recognize the health benefits of massage. They choose from among many massage styles to get relief from symptoms or to heal injuries, to help with certain health conditions, and to promote overall wellness.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff “trouble spots” in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin. Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage can be quite therapeutic — relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.
Developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport, sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes in training — before, during, or after sports events. You might use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.
During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling, and relieving muscle and joint pain. Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. Using specially designed massage pillows, the massage therapist will help get you into a comfortable position for this type of massage.
What Are the Health Benefits of Massage?
Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. Here are just a few of the health problems that may benefit from massage. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, though.
- Back pain. More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain. In fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain — reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.
- Headache. Another type of pain — headache — also responds to massage therapy, as shown by more than one study. Massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
- Osteoarthritis. In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
- Cancer. Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system.
- Anxiety. A review of more than 12 studies shows that massage helps relieve depression and anxiety. It lowered levels of cortisol by up to 50%. And massage increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.
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Theresa Baisley, L.M.T.