Massage: a brief overview
Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing modalities known to man. The therapeutic use of touch has been an integral part of every culture since at least ancient Egypt. Until the arrival of pharmaceuticals in the 19th century, various forms of massage were used to ease pain and aid healing of muscles, bones and organs. In the modern era, manual therapy such as massage had been temporarily deprecated as a go-to treatment in favour of more medicalised approaches, usually involving pill popping and surgical interventions. This however is now changing as we re-discover massage as a very safe and effective way of stimulating the body’s own healing processes.
Benefits of massage therapy
The most common and best documented benefits* of massage include:
- Pain relief (especially back, neck and shoulders)
- Chronic tension relief
- Reduced anxiety
- Help with depression
- Reduce blood pressure
- Increase post injury recovery rate
- Prevention of fibrosis or scar tissue
- Increase in lymph flow
- Improvement in sleep
*See e.g. the American Psychological Association for some studied benefits of massage.
Why massage works
The effectiveness of massage is most likely rooted in its ability to stimulate tissue regrowth and regeneration. Besides helping recovery, massage has a pain-relieving potential that is connected with its ability to block pain pathways. On top of that, there are the psychological effects of massage: massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in the release of endorphins and serotonin – the feel-good neurotransmitters. For scientific references, see my page about Sports Massage.
Different types of massage
There are many massage modalities, some of them involving the use of oil, incense, hot stones or various implements. There are even massages involving the use of sound such as gong sound baths. The most common forms of massage in the West are Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage. Both of these have their roots in Western traditions such as Swedish Massage and involve manipulation of muscle and soft tissues of the body with specific techniques such as effleurage and petrissage. Additionally, modern massage techniques often use methods that are based on passive muscle stretching and muscle activation techniques. All of these techniques are focused on targeting the nervous system and its role in controlling muscle tone and flexibility. Some massage techniques use very light touch whilst others can be rather firm. Sports and Deep Tissue are on the latter part of the spectrum. The quality of touch very much depends on the individual practitioner’s ability to listen and adapt to their client’s needs.
How does a massage session look?
I offer two types of massage, Sports and Deep Tissue. Each session last 60 minutes and is tailored to your specific needs. Before each massage session we will spend some time investigating your current issues and decide what approach would serve you best. The treatment is done on a massage table and requires you to wear sports underwear. Depending on your circumstances I may recommend some stretches and take-home exercises to help the recovery process. At the beginning of the process I will make a recommendation on how many treatments would be required to help resolve the issue you came with.