What is a therapeutic massage?
A therapeutic massage relieves muscle aches and pains through manipulation of the soft tissues and muscles. This massage type often borrows techniques from sports massage, deep tissue massage, and Swedish massage to provide relief from tension and relaxation. People seek out this type of massage for sport conditioning, rehabilitation, or as a means of relaxation.
What should I expect?
A massage therapist often customizes the massage for their clients, paying special attention to any injuries or ailments. The massage can be soft and relaxing if the body is not particularly tense, or more firm with pressure to diminish any tense or injured areas. This pressure encourages blood to flow through the pained areas, and relax tense muscles.
As tense muscles relax, you will begin to feel relief, often by the end of a session. Sometimes you’ll need more than one treatment session, depending on how tense and tight your muscles are. Each session typically lasts for an hour.
What are the benefits?
● Relieves stress and anxiety
Endless to-do lists, work deadlines, family obligations, attempting to keep up with the goings-on of all your friends — most adults today are slammed with duties and responsibilities, many with more than they can handle on any given day. While the world has become more attuned to the striking state of mental health, busyness still seems like a badge of honor.
Regular massages can help to reduce the levels of stress and anxiety you feel on a daily basis. Not only does taking some time for yourself feel good, but massage therapy is scientifically proven to help your mind and body relax.
Physically, massage allows your body to release tension and tames your fight-or-flight response (which is constantly turned on for many of us); mentally, massage induces a feeling of calmness and reduces anxious thoughts.
● Reduces muscle pain and soreness
A tough workout, whatever tough means to you, leaves you feeling like a regular flight of stairs is a 20-mile uphill backpacking trip. Therapeutic massage is one of the top recovery tools for sore muscles after workouts, especially in elite athletes.
In addition to soothing sore muscles, massage therapy can reduce bodily pain in people who struggle with chronic pain or any syndrome of which pain is a side effect. Studies show that therapeutic massage can relieve pain related to fibromyalgia, surgery, and more.
● Can help you sleep better
Just like stress and anxiety run rampant today, so does lack of sleep. If you need a little help unwinding, consider adding regular massages into your wellness routine. Scientists have found that therapeutic massage can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get better quality shut-eye. Massage therapy is even known to help people with insomnia catch more ZZZs.
● Can improve your immune function
If you feel like you often come down with a cold or other minor illness, you may benefit from therapeutic massage. Research suggests that massage therapy can increase the number of lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell that defends your body from disease — in your blood. Science also shows that massage therapy can reduce markers of disease, such as inflammation and cortisol.
● Can can increase your flexibility and range of motion
Can you touch your toes? If you just tried and realized that no, you can’t touch your toes, you can benefit from a massage (even if you can touch, you can still benefit). By manipulating the soft tissue throughout your body, massage therapy can improve your joint range of motion and flexibility.
Sports massage, in particular, is known for its effects on movement functionality, but any manipulation of muscle and connective tissue can improve these parameters. Researchers believe this occurs because massage therapy encourages blood flow to the joints, promotes circulation of the lymph, and relaxes the muscles.
● Improved Circulation
Regular massage during your physical therapy program can improve circulation considerably. Better circulation means that your muscles get the blood supply needed to prevent stiffness and tension. Your muscles will work and feel better after therapeutic massage.
● Improve posture
Massage, when coupled with other kinds of physical therapy, can do a lot of good for your posture. Massage helps bring your body into an optimal place of alignment, which can naturally improve your posture. Better posture has multiple benefits for athletes. When you’ve got good posture, your body can move at its peak, all the time — and this means that you’re playing your sport with a bit of a natural advantage built in.
When are the Best Times for a Therapeutic Massage?
The best time for a therapeutic massage is when you feel yourself getting worked up or when you are just not feeling your best. Others find a regular therapeutic massage every month or two to be a great dose of prevention therapy. We even have some highly stressed patients who have weekly massages just to cope with daily life.
What Massage Frequency Works Best?
Everyone needs differ depending on your lifestyle. As a guide, regular therapeutic massages work best when on a 4 to 6-week basis. This is because your muscles need to keep relaxed and moving through their full available range. Otherwise, they become “creatures of habit”. If tense is how they are most often, that’s what they will consider normal. And… we all know what that leads to… tight muscles, stress, and pain!
For optimal results and less potential for muscle soreness the day post-massage, having a regular massage will keep your body from not only reacting to the positive change we are trying to provide, but it can also retrain your body to help itself and provide you with a better healthier you.
For advice specific to your therapeutic needs, please ask your massage therapist how regularly they feel that you should have a massage to function optimally.