Lying in a quiet, dim room that is lightly scented with essential oils to promote relaxation while a trained massage therapist works out the knots and kinks in your muscles sounds like a luxurious and indulgent experience. Something that should be a special treat every once in a while, not something you have on a regular basis. Many have held this belief for decades, but the ways in which a massage can help us in our everyday lives are beginning to come to the forefront.
There has been a shift in the way people think about massage and healthcare. And as more people begin to embrace a holistic approach to healthcare ― one that include traditional and modern medicines ― massage therapy is becoming more popular.
Massage Therapy — Not Just for Spas Anymore
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) collected data from consumers asking about their massage therapy needs between July 2014 and June 2015 and found that only 11% of people who received massages did so for pampering or a special indulgence.
The survey also revealed that most people who received a massage during that year made the appointment at a massage therapist’s office rather than a spa. For the first time ever, a spa is not the primary place people go to get massages.
Thirty three percent of respondents said they made their massage therapy appointments for the purpose of relaxation and stress reduction. Another 52% reported they received a massage for medical reasons.
Massage therapy uses touch from a trained therapist to press and rub skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are several different types of massage that focus on different issues the patient might be experiencing.
- Swedish Massage: Using long strokes and circular movements, Swedish massage is meant to relax and reenergize.
- Deep Tissue Massage: Using more forceful and targeted strokes, deep tissue massage focuses on the deeper muscle layers and connective tissues to help with muscle recovery.
- Sports Massage: Using techniques similar to Swedish massage, a sports massage is used to prevent or rehabilitate injuries.
- Trigger Point Massage: To ease muscles after an injury or overuse, trigger point massage works to ease tight muscle fibers.
Medical Massage Therapy
Receiving a massage for medical reasons is becoming more and more popular as a method of treatment. Healthcare practitioners across multiple disciplines are including massage therapy into treatment plans for pain relief and management, soreness, injury recovery or other rehabilitation, general wellness, and even pregnancy.
Physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists are most often the referring healthcare practitioners for massage therapy. Mental health professionals, physician assistants, and nurses often suggest massage therapy as a way to help their patients. Massage has been found to help with a range of medical issues that many people experience.
Massage Therapy — Mind and Body
Massage therapy can be beneficial for almost everyone who uses it as a treatment option, even if it’s used for general wellness and health maintenance. Research suggests that massage therapy can help with dozens of physical, mental, and emotional stresses.
Some of the ailments massage therapy can help with include:
- Pain (back, neck, post-operative, cancer-related, etc.)
- Immune system function
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Blood pressure
- Reducing chronic pain (headaches, backaches, fibromyalgia)
- Weight loss
The benefits of massage therapy are plenty and can be seen in both the short term and the long term. Massage therapy promotes relaxation and can help improve sleep, which helps us in our everyday lives. It can also help reduce pain and speed up recovery times from injuries.
Industry Fact Sheet. (2016, February). American Massage Therapy Association. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html
Massage: Get In Touch with its Many Benefits. (2016). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743?pg=1