Month: May 2015

The Top Five Benefits of Massage Therapy

Regularly scheduled massage therapy is one of the best practices for treating new and old pains and injuries, reducing stress, or generally improving your life. In using techniques such as deep tissue massage, traditional Swedish, or sports massage, your massage therapist can reduce pain, reduce blood pressure, remove scar tissue, relieve stress, and improve healing time. Let’s look at how each of those things can happen.

Massage Reduces Chronic Pain

Decades of research have shown that massage has done wonders for patients with chronic pain. From migraines to lower back pain to old injuries, there are different massage techniques for different types of pain.

Studies have shown that massage has helped cancer patients reduce the perception of pain and anxiety during treatment. Other studies have shown that massage is more effective than cold pack treatments for headaches. Massage is also an effective pain relief treatment for surgical patients.

Massage Therapy Reduces Blood Pressure 

If you’re looking to slow your heart rate a bit, try scheduling a massage. A number of studies have shown that because of its ability to help direct blood flow and stimulate the release of toxins from the body, massage therapy is a wonderful way to reduce blood pressure and decrease heart rate. Many physicians recommend that patients with hypertension visit a massage therapist on a semi-regular basis to help control blood pressure.

Massage Removes Scar Tissue

Scar tissue can do more than just leave a physical mark on your skin. Over time, scar tissue in the muscles can restrict movement in your joints and muscles, and might even become painful.

Scar tissue is made up of adhesions, or strands of tissue that have clumped together in rope- or knot-like structures. Adhesions can form almost anywhere in the body, from the muscles to the organs. Over time, the adhesions can grow to incorporate more and more tissue. It’s best to get rid of adhesions as soon as possible, but even adhesions that have been forming for years can be tackled by massage therapy.

Through various massage therapy techniques, most commonly deep tissue or trigger point therapy, scar tissue can be broken down and restricted, painful areas can become loose and flexible.

Massage Relieves Stress 

One common reason that people seek out massage is to reduce stress. Not only does massage feel good, allowing for people to relax at the hands of their massage therapists, but there’s a science behind what makes massage so soothing!

Massage is known to reduce the occurrence of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood stream, while simultaneously increasing the presence of dopamine, a hormone associated with joy, and serotonin, a hormone known to counter the effects of anxiety and depression. In fact, several studies have shown that just 15 minutes of massage can measurably reduce stress levels. Imagine the benefits of a half hour massage, or a regular massage routine!

Massage Therapy Speeds Up Recovery Time

Research at McMaster’s University has demonstrated that even ten minutes of massage can help reduce inflammation and increase healing time.

The study was performed on eleven men who ‘pushed themselves to exhaustion’ on stationary bikes. After 2.5 hours of recovery time, massage therapists performed 10 minutes of deep tissue massage. Biopsied muscle tissue showed that inflammation was reduced, compared to a controlled sample of tissue that had not been massaged.


With all of these proven benefits, are you ready to schedule your massage session?

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The Healing Power of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue Massage is a massage therapy technique used to help treat specific problems. Though it uses some of the same motions as you might find in Swedish Massage (or, to many people, ‘regular massage’), deep tissue massage is a much more targeted practice. For example, one might seek out a deep tissue massage session for any one of these ailments, to only name a few!

  • Sports Injury
  • Old Injury
  • Chronic Pain (Neck, Back, Thighs, Etc)
  • Repetitive Strain Injury (ie, Carpal Tunnel)
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia

During a deep tissue massage, the massage therapist focuses on realigning deeper muscle areas, tendons, ligaments, and the connective tissue called the fascia that binds all the parts of our body together.

Using deep pressure, the massage therapist will aim to break up any adhesions that may be causing pain or tension in the body. An adhesion occurs when muscles, tendons, or ligaments bunch up together in a rope- or knot-like structure, often becoming tense and hard. Adhesions are no fun — they can block circulation, limit motion, cause pain and lead to inflammation. That’s why deep tissue massage tries to get rid of them.

A deep tissue massage session can be uncomfortable — after all, during a session, the massage therapist is applying hard pressure to areas of the body that may already be in pain. If you are sore after the massage session is over, this is perfectly normal. Your massage therapist may recommend icing sore areas to ease the discomfort. Drinking plenty of water will also help reduce soreness by flushing out the toxins that were released during your session.

If you do experience discomfort during a massage that is outside of your comfort zone, don’t hesitate to alert your massage therapist, who will then adjust or stop the pressure.

Not everyone should undergo a deep tissue massage, so remember to consult with your doctor before signing up for a session.


Everything You Need To Know About Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most popular form of massage in the United States. In fact, when you hear someone referring to “getting a regular massage”, they’re probably talking about Swedish Massage.

In Swedish Massage, your massage practitioner will use their hands, forearms and elbows to work with the superficial (or surface) layers of your muscles. They may also actively or passively move your joints to get the best response from your body.

The first recorded instance of Swedish massage was in the 1830s, when a (not surprisingly) Swedish fencing instructor named Per Henrik Ling wanted to find a way to cure his aching elbows after fencing practice. By using percussive strokes around the afflicted areas, Ling managed to alleviate his painful problem. These percussive strokes, used commonly in Swedish Massage, are called “tapping”.

Starting with tapping (also known as tapotement), there are five main motions used in Swedish massage.

  • Tapotement: A percussive chopping or tapping motion, used to stimulate or tone a muscle.
  • Vibration: The massage therapist will gently shake an area with hands or fingertips to release tension in concentrated areas, such as the side of the face or the shoulder.
  • Effleurage: The most common motion in Swedish massage, the massage therapist will use smooth, gliding motions to guide blood towards the heart. Palms will trace the contours of each muscle group.
  • Pétrissage: A kneading motion intended to relieve tension, improve lymphatic drainage, and increase blood flow.
  • Friction: The deepest motion used in Swedish Massage, intended to reach muscles below the superficial layer. The massage therapist creates pressure by pushing down on thumbs, hands, or forearms, then releases slowly in a gliding or circular motion.

There are numerous applications to Swedish Massage, many of which are being embraced by the medical community as treatments for various ailments. Doctors have been known to prescribe Swedish Massage as treatment for migraines and headaches, arthritis, stress, and athletic injuries, to name only a few of the ways that Swedish Massage can be used.

Swedish Massage, along with other forms of massage, is known to reduce cortisol levels in the bloodstream, which in turn reduces stress. Contact from massage can also cause the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone which increases comfort and relaxation. The increased state of relaxation induced by massage has been known to lower blood pressure.

The next time you want to get a relaxing massage, request the Swedish treatment, and see the difference that it makes!