Now, in my tenth year as a massage therapist, I've seen firsthand the many benefits of massage experienced by my clients...and by myself. The benefits are most obvious with
regular Therapeutic Massage (sometimes called Deep
Tissue). Therapeutic Massage has been my specialty for most of those
years and it's also the type of regular massage that I demand for myself with my overworked sore muscles.
(Note: Over the past few years, I've heard from clients who've told me
that they can't afford the regular massage that they really need. If
this is the case for you, see the Consultation
section at the end of this article.)
It's hard to find a profession nowadays that doesn't cause muscles to be overworked--even a job that requires sitting at a computer can overwork the neck muscles, forearm muscles, and deep hip rotator muscles. And when a muscle is overworked repetitively, that's when it can develop trigger points, which are tight spots in the muscle that are painful when pressure is applied and can cause pain on and off in that area and surrounding areas. For example, a trigger point in a tight neck muscle can cause pain the forehead, behind the eyes, or at the temples. Trigger points in the forearm muscles can cause pain at the wrist and even numbness and tingling in the fingers. And trigger points in the deep hip rotator muscles can cause pain down the leg, which is sometimes mislabeled sciatica.
An Ineffective Routine
Many people only get a massage when they have a muscle or a group of muscles that are causing discomfort and/or limiting their daily activities. For some, that can be as little as once or twice a year. But the people who have made regular Therapeutic Massage a part of an overall wellness lifestyle are the ones who see the most benefits and have the best quality of life, with regard to the health of their soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). The World Health Organization, the Mayo Clinic, and other health and wellness organizations have recognized the many ways that
Therapeutic Massage can contribute to overall health and well-being. So they now suggest that getting a massage at least once or twice a month may improve a person’s health in quite a few ways. With Therapeutic Massage, the biggest benefits of these regular sessions are in keeping pain away or at a
minimum and range of motion at a maximum.
Therapeutic Massage may very well be the most effective form of non-pharmaceutical pain relief for sore and tense muscles. With just a few sessions, it can eliminate painful knots that cause intense pain in the neck and shoulders, for example, and can put an end to painful cramping that happens in overworked muscles. With regular sessions, Therapeutic Massage can also improve range of motion and even minimize swelling in sprains and strains.
Therapeutic Massage seems to work a few ways to reduce pain. For example, it triggers the release of endorphins, our natural painkillers that are produced by the body, which reduces the intensity of pain. Also, studies have shown that Therapeutic Massage reduces the levels of substance P, a brain chemical related to pain, especially in people who suffer from chronic pain. In fact, people with pain syndromes such as Fibromyalgia can see positive results in managing their pain by simply having a Therapeutic Massage just twice a month.
When we are under stress from our work or life in general, our bodies produce a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone has been linked to everything from weight gain to a compromised immune response. Therapeutic Massage reduces cortisol levels dramatically, which can strengthen our immune systems so that we are better equipped to fight off illness and recover more quickly when we do become sick. And lower cortisol levels also mean that we metabolize food, particularly sugars, more efficiently.
Unfortunately, very few mainstream doctors recommend Therapeutic Massage for their patients who come to them with muscle and tendon pain. The typical recommendations that I hear about are Physical Therapy, muscle relaxer drugs, cortisone shots, and/or surgery. None of these recommendations addresses the root cause of the problem--muscle/tendon tension with trigger points. And if the trigger points in muscles and tendons are not released, that tissue can never be 100% pain-free or be fully functional. So a Relaxation Massage or a Deep Tissue Massage from someone who does not specialize in trigger point therapy will only give a limited amount of relief and likely for only a short time.
Regular Therapeutic Massage
The many clients who see me for regular Therapeutic Massage are surprised after a few sessions to find that they have very little to complain about! They thought that the nagging pain or limitation they had was something they'd have for the rest of their life (or so they were told by a medical professional). But once we get things under control with Therapeutic Massage and they start getting regular sessions, we keep everything under control. In fact, it's not unusual for an area to be sore during a massage that had not bothered them at all--and that's the best scenario with regular sessions--we release any tension or trigger points
before they have a chance to ever become painful.
Each person needs to determine the best schedule for their regular massage. I have clients who need a weekly Therapeutic Massage in order to keep everything under control, others who need a biweekly session, and many who just need a monthly massage to stay pain-free. Typically, we'll start out by working on problem areas with weekly sessions. After a few sessions, most people can begin having a biweekly or monthly session to keep their problem area(s) under control.
If you have questions about Therapeutic Massage and whether or not it can help you, feel free to call or e-mail me.
If the cost of a regular massage prevents you from getting massage as
often as you need it, let me know so we can discuss a discount plan that
will work for you.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll be feeling better every day!
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