How Massage Therapy Can Improve Your overall health
By Malissa Martin For Digital First Media Jul 16, 2018
Some people still believe massage therapy is an indulgence purely for relaxation. The health benefits of massage, however, have proven otherwise.
Today we know that our mind-body connection means excessive stress brings on or exacerbates illness by reducing our own natural immunity to disease. People who value their health know that, like a healthy diet and exercise, regular massage treatments are a valuable part of a stress-reduction plan.
Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions can be better managed with massage therapy, according an article on the Mayo Clinic website (mayoclinic.org). In addition, massage helps reduce or alleviate headaches, joint pain, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia and much more.
Second-generation massage therapist Christian Monk, owner of Beauty & Bodyworks Day Spa in Southfield, wants to spread the word of the health benefits of massage therapy. For the last 12 years, the Army veteran has seen the positive impact massage can have on a person’s well-being.
She says a 12-year client brought in his daughter, who did not think she wanted massage.
‘So she gets her massage and she comes out the room and she says, ‘Girl, I want to buy this.’ She was like a different person than what she was when she walked in,’ Monk says. ‘She was very apprehensive about massage and the benefits, because people don’t know until they actually experience it. People just don’t know that they’re wound up that tight and that they need that touch – and that touch is so important.’
Massage therapy has many forms, applied according to a therapist’s training and a client’s ailments. Some commonly known techniques are Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, prenatal, shiatsu and sports massage.
Swedish massage consists of long, smooth, slow strokes toward the heart, to relax the body and mind, stimulate surface blood flow and relieve pain.
With hot stone massage, the practitioner applies smooth stones warmed to no more than 127 degrees onto key areas of the body to increase relaxation of targeted muscles.
The term deep tissue massage refers to increased pressure applied by a therapist aiming to alleviate chronic pain and increase range of motion. This type of massage can be painful. Although some call it a ‘good pain,’ any massage therapy should be done only to the client’s tolerance.
Prenatal massage is gentle and specifically tailored for expecting mothers to help reduce the physical discomforts and mental stress of carrying a growing baby.
Shiatsu, which means ‘finger pressure,’ is a Japanese bodywork practice in which therapists use their thumbs, hands, elbows or feet on points along body meridians defined by traditional Chinese medicine. It includes stretching and rotating limbs.
Sports massage can help relieve soft-tissue aches and muscle stiffness to prepare for events or recover from exercise. This type of massage isn’t just for sports injuries though. It can be beneficial to anyone who engages in repetitive physical activity, which is hard on the body.
Children and the elderly – who often are isolated and deprived of human touch – also can benefit from bodywork.
It’s always best to check with your doctor before starting any new health regimen, including massage therapy. It’s also a good idea to research a massage therapist to ensure he or she is well educated and licensed. Failing to do so could result in a bad experience, or even injury.
Massage therapy is good for almost anyone, whether they are active or sedentary. So the next time you’re stressed, overwhelmed or in pain, consider getting a massage. It may help your overall health to massage that issue out of your tissue.