I’ve always been curious about massage but before going to school for Massage Therapy, I was not really educated on what it does to the human body. I used to always associate massage with “relaxation”, but it’s so much more than that.
It is a difficult time to get a massage at the moment due to the current pandemic, but eventually when it all goes away it can be very beneficial especially after experiencing a hard time. I have learned so much about the wonderful benefits of massage therapy that I just wanted to share some of the benefits and break the myth that it is only for “relaxation”.
What is the definition of Massage?
“Intentional and systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to enhance health and healing”
Massage Therapy assists in helping the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints & organs.
*Before we get to the benefits I want to first share the goals of massage therapy*
Some of the goals include:
- Releasing tension
- Helping with memory recovery
- Enhancing muscle function
- Helping with body awareness
- Medical reasons
- Pain management or pain relief
- Soreness, muscles spasms & stiffness
- Injury Recovery
- Prenatal Massage
- Relaxation & stress relief
And now for the fun part! The benefits of massage therapy
The effects of massage fall in two categories
The effects of massage can be short term as a single dose or long term as multiple doses.
The organ system
- It removes dead skin
- Increases moisture
- Stimulates sensory receptors in the skin
- Helps scar formation
- Increases circulation
- Improves ROM (range of motion)
- Promotes joint flexibility
- Promotes proper skeletal alignment
- Promotes smooth joint function
- Enhances connective tissue health
- Enhances flexibility of fascia and tendons & muscles at joints.
- Reduces pain
- Sharpens body awareness
- Stimulates relaxation response
- Releases endorphins
Lymphatic & Respiratory systems
- Improves immune functions
- Relaxes respiration muscles
- Improves structural alignment and rib cage expansion
- Increases lymph fluid movement
Digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems
- Facilitates bowel movements
- Enhances circulation to kidneys
- Improves reproductive function and digestion with relaxation
- Improves urinary production & bladder tension
Analgesia (reduction of pain)
- Massage has an analgesic effect on the body
- Induces release of natural pain killers (endorphins)
- Reduces anxiety
- Helps with emotional release
- Promotes feelings of well being
- Increases mental clarity
- Memories are created and activated by touch.
- Touch may bring up feelings or memories that are non-therapeutic
- Touch can help with recovery process from trauma
Please note that currently 43 states require license to practice Massage Therapy, surprisingly a lot of people I have spoken to did not know this. You can get in a lot of trouble for practicing without a license. As a future licensed MT (I am still a student) I know that most massage therapists (the ones who genuinely take it seriously) have a goal to help people live better lives. I’ve seen a lot of people with pain who go to a doctor, get x-rays done, the doctors do not find anything wrong with them and get meds prescribed…to later find out that after going to a massage therapist their pain was completed relieved or have experienced decrease of pain. Using different massage techniques to move tissue around can make a HUGE difference. By saying this I am not saying anything negative about doctors, I am just saying that sometimes all you need is a massage therapy session. Sometimes the opposite is true and we have to refer some of our patients to doctors because what they are experiencing is outside of our scope of practice. However, do not underestimate the power of massage and physical therapy.
If you are interesting in seeing which states require a license, I put the link below:
I’ll make a later post about the history of massage and the different modalities in massage on a later post. I was going to include it here and make one big post but I decided it would be better to break it up into sections to have more space to discuss the topic in more depth.
Most of this information is from what I learned in school.