Benefits of Massage Therapy
There is clear scientific evidence to support the physical and psychological benefits of massage. These include:
- Increased blood and lymph circulation
- Reduces muscle tension and muscle-related pain to enhance function, reduce nerve irritation and pain. Massage helps reset the sensors which monitor the muscle contraction and length of the body, reminding them to relax and release muscle tension.
- Speeds recovery of muscles from exercise
- Frees up connective tissue layers for increased mobility and circulation, allowing postural corrections
- Improves lung functioning by relaxing over tight muscles associated with breathing
- Can improve immune function and encourage energy flow in the body
- Hormonal and chemical substances are released by the brain during massage which help regulate mood, give feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, decrease pain (natural painkillers called endorphins), regulate sleep, relieve fatigue, generate feelings of well being and bonding, reduces stress hormones, and promote functioning of the “rest and repair” modality of the nervous system.
Types of massage therapy available
Remedial massage is used to address specific soft tissue (muscle,tendons and ligaments) injuries and dysfunctions in the body and can be a very effective way of influencing the structure and functioning of the body. Thorough client history and assessment is done to determine what is going on and what needs to be addressed and leads to the development of an individualised treatment plan. A variety of techniques are then applied to bring about a positive change to the soft tissues indicated in the assessment or client history from another health professional. Remedial massage can be used to help manage and treat a range of musculokeletal conditions, postural dysfunction and injury rehabilitation. The therapist must be qualified at least in Remedial and Therapeutic Massage (RMT) http://massagenewzealand.org.nz/about-us/scope-of-practice-rmt/
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
A relaxation massage combines oils with slow, smooth, gliding strokes (generally Swedish massage techniques) with the purpose of encouraging relaxation and reduce tension in the body and mind. Relaxation massage has been well documented to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body, creating benefical chemical changes which can result in pain relief, increased immunity and resistence to disease, decreased anxiety, enhanced sleep, improved concentration, improved circulation and reduced fatigue. Studies show that relaxation massage slows breathing rate and hypertensive patients showed significant improvement with gentle regular massage compared to a control group who did not receive massage (www.miami.edu/touch-research/).
Myofascial release is manual technique for stretching the fascia with the aim to balance the body. Fascia is located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone, it is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body. Injuries, stress, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to fascia, and the goal of myofascial release is to unlock fascia restriction and restore its balance and freedom of movement. Sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions can eliminate pain and restore motion. This essential “time element” has to do with the viscous flow and the piezoelectric phenomenon: a low load (gentle pressure) applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic medium (fascia) to elongate.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of tissue in the body. It is a highly effective method for releasing chronic stress areas due to misalignment, repetitive motions, and past lingering injuries. Due to the nature of the deep tissue work, open communication during the session is crucial to make sure you don’t get too uncomfortable. Soreness is quite common after the treatment because the depth and intensity of the therapy helps to break up adhesions and scar tissue, realign connective tissue fibers and release deep ischemia (lack of oxygen that results in pain and stagnation). Plenty of water should be drunk following the session to aid with the flushing and removal of toxins that will be released from the deep tissue during the session. Icing may be suggested.
Regular sports massage is increasingly popular for amateur and professional athletes, recreational sports people and even non-sporting people, due to its ability to improve the condition of the muscles which aids recovery, rehabilitation and prevents injury. Many injuries occur because of the muscle has been suffering from tension over a period of time. With the increased strain placed on on the muscles during sports activity, the tissues may finally fail or not recover. If you already have an injury, massage can be an important help in normal healing of muscle strain as the body tends to contract in reaction to injury to protect itself and the area becomes restricted and ischemic (lacking in oxygen) which makes healing more difficult. Massage after an injury can relax the muscle tension and improve bring all important fresh blood and nutrients to aid in tissue healing. For the same reason, Sports massage dramatically improves recovery time and can prolong a sporting career.
The lymphatic system is key to the immune system. Although most massage will stimulate the flow of lymph carefully applied light massage strokes are used during a Lymphatic Drainage session to increase the flow to lymph through the body. This results in detoxification and reducing swelling and fluid retention. It is very light, pulsing or pumping massage which has a lulling, relaxing effect on the autonomic nervous system. It is effective in the treatment of Fibromyalgia, sinusitis, burns, acne, scars, arthritis, emphysema and migraines, as well as the more common usage for oedema, sprains and bruises. The immune response cells (white blood cells) travel through the lymphatic vessels and in the lymph which is filtered and cleaned in the lymph nodes. Regular lymphatic drainage can ensure can improve lymph circulation and therefore immune efficiency.
Neuromuscular and Trigger Point Therapy
These Remedial massage techniques are specifically applied used for the relief and prevention of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Neuromuscular Therapy is based on balancing the nervous system with the muscular system and searches for the underlying causes of long standing pain. The treatment session involves muscle length testing and tissue palpation and aims to release muscle spasm and eliminate trigger points, which cause referred pain into other areas of the body. Referred trigger point pain can be the cause of chronic headaches, shoulder girdle dysfunction, sciatic type pain down the leg, lower back pain, chronic muscle tension, decreased range of movement, period pain, jaw pain and OOS or RSI symptoms such as thoracic outlet syndrome, carpal tunnel to name but a few. The modality works on the systematic de-activation of trigger points which are small areas of contraction in tight bands in the muscles, tendons or ligaments, through the use of sustained pressure (ischemic pressure), positional release, Muscle Energy Techniques, heat, ice, movement and facilitated stretching. Trigger point work is often a part of Neuromuscular Therapy and is beneficial wherever chronic, aching pain is felt.
Neuromuscular Therapy will be used to address areas of musculo-skeletal dysfunction that may be causing you pain. These are:
Ischemia: Lack of blood supply to soft tissues which causes hypersensitivity to touch
Trigger Points: Highly irritated points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body
Nerve Compression or Entrapment: Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone
Postural Distortion: Imbalance of the muscular system resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes
Biomechanical Dysfunction: Imbalance of the musculo-skeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns (such as: poor lifting habits, bad mechanics in a workplace or sporting movement, computer work, keyboarding, or any activities of daily life)
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching techniques are commonly used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion with the ultimate goal being to optimize motor performance and rehabilitation.
Acupressure uses finger pressure instead of needles to stimulate certain points, called acupoints. These points are located in the invisible system of energy channels known as meridians in Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM). These relate to certain organs, glands, muscles, tendons and ligaments where any constriction in the flow of energy can cause disease and discomfort. Gentle pressure can remove these blockages (MNZ 2013). Recent research has showed clear correlations between the connective tissue planes and communication systems throughout the body and the CTM meridians, between the acupoints and many intra muscular trigger points offering scientific evidence to support the use of acupoints and meridians to promote well being.