Massage therapy has long been touted as one of the best relaxation tools of any holistic treatment. We’ve seen it often: whenever someone really wants to relax and release some stress they go for a massage. This is especially true of vacationers; first stop – the hotel spa for a luxurious massage.
While massage therapy has been used by Oriental medical experts for centuries, as part of their holistic health care practice for stress reduction, it’s also becoming more commonly advocated by Western physicians. This is because there is much more to massage than relaxation treatment.
For centuries, massage therapy was used as a way to treat a plethora of ailments – from a sore back to a serious disease or even emotional trauma. Modern scientists have made it their aim to study massage to see if there were any real benefits besides feeling relaxed. Science has proven the ancient physicians and practitioners correct; from their studies has developed a new category of massage therapy known as medical massage. This form of massage has been gaining esteem since the mid-1800s but really began being promoted by physicians, including the American Medical Association, in the late 1980s.
Medical massage is a specialty massage modality focusing on patients who are dealing with physical disorder or diseases. These include injuries resulting from an accident, repetitive movement, or a disease which has developed. There are many benefits of medical massage, as doctors can attest. These benefits span the spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional injuries and disorders. Here are just some of the benefits of medical massage.
One of the main concerns after an injury is the lack of good circulation. When a person has been injured, whether they fell and broke their leg or have been in a car accident and are dealing with extensive injuries, circulation will not be what it once was. This is for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the patient is most likely not as mobile as they used to be. It is difficult to get around after an injury. Even with something as seemingly minor as a sprained ankle, the ankle isn’t being used very much during the healing process. Because of this, blood, oxygen, and nutrients aren’t being circulated as efficiently as they were before the injury.
Massage therapy promotes good circulation. The massage therapist gently manipulates the muscles and other tissues of the affected area, reducing any stagnation of blood and lymph. When the blood flows freely, oxygen flows as well, speeding along recovery to the injured area. Nutrients are also able to flow through the blood stream more easily, giving the tissues the vitamins and minerals they need to heal.
More Muscle Flexibility
Along with decreased circulation during injury comes a decrease in flexibility as well. When the muscles aren’t in use, they don’t function as well. You have probably seen this demonstrated when someone has had a broken bone and been in a cast for some time. When the cast is removed the muscles are smaller than they used to be and are often stiff and lack range of motion, too.
Medical massage is extremely beneficial in these cases. During a medical massage, the therapist will not only massage the muscles to help them loosen from their constricted state, he or she will also assist you in stretching these muscles. Regular loosening and stretching of the injured area will give you back some of the flexibility you had before your accident.
Reduces the Amount of Scar Tissue
The buildup of scar tissue adversely affects the injured area. Scar tissue from injury or surgery can result in pain and even further need for surgery. Sometimes so much scar tissue builds up that it causes the organs or other tissues around the area to not function properly. The result is not only pain and decreased mobility, but sometimes even disease. You already have enough to deal with when you have an injury or have had surgery to treat a disease. Excess scar tissue is like adding insult to injury.
A massage therapist will employ medical massage to break up scar tissue which has begun to form. When excess scar tissue doesn’t have a chance to form, disease and excess pain don’t have a chance to appear.
Helps Ease Pain
There are many people in our society dealing with chronic pain from serious conditions such as arthritis, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia just to name a few. Medical massage therapy can definitely be of immense benefit to such people. Massage therapy reduces factors which contribute to pain, such as inflammation, and also causes the brain to release feel-good, pain killing endorphins and hormones. Regular massage therapy gives chronic pain patients relief.
We’ve discussed how massage therapy has been popular for centuries as a way to relax and reduce stress, but this stress reduction isn’t just important for a person’s peace of mind. Stress affects the body as well as the mind. An increase in stress increases the likelihood of physical diseases such as nearly every cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Stress also makes it easy to gain weight and difficult to take it off and is one of the biggest contributors to our obesity epidemic. Massage therapy helps the body and mind relax resulting in better overall health to the patient.
If you have recently experienced an injury you may want to consult with your physician to see if medical massage could be of benefit in your specific circumstance. The sooner medical massage treatment is administered, the better your chance of healing fully and more quickly. However, even if you sustained an injury a while ago, you can still benefit from medical massage.
Massage therapy benefits are almost too innumerable to mention. Whatever you’re coping with, whether it be physical disease, emotional trauma, or injury, medical massage can be of help. Contact your doctor, holistic practitioner, or existing massage therapist to discuss the benefits of medical massage and how it can aid in treatment of your particular condition. You won’t be sorry!