Hand turning the word Unhealthy into Healthy with red marker isolated on white. Sometimes when we are sick, we feel like we are never going to get better. But one morning we awaken and realize we are all better. The symptoms are gone, and we can move on with life. However, many of us live with symptoms that never go away, nagging and continual pain, fatigue, joints that do not work well, chronic headaches, chronic digestive troubles and the list goes on. We look for help and get some, but not enough, or help for a while and then back to the same. Some conditions, like fibromyalgia, are simply a vicious cycle of pain causing poor sleep which causes more pain and inflammation and brain fog and fatigue. The daily questions are: Can I ever get help? Will I ever get better? Part of a good regimen of healing and good health can be found in Massage Therapy, not just a back rub by a friend, but therapy from a professional.
The benefits of Massage Therapy to name a few are: alleviation of lower back pain, exercising of and stretching of weak, tight or atrophied muscles, increasing joint flexibility, lessening of depression and anxiety, reducing spasms and cramping, preparing athletes for and recovering from strenuous workouts.
Massage Therapy can be a great addition to good health care, despite massage being considered a luxury or a form of pampering. It helps to reduce stress, thereby improving concentration, improving sleep, and reducing fatigue.
Specific conditions can be reduced by massage therapy. Research has shown that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers indicate fewer aches and less stiffness http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=13716. People with high blood pressure show lower diastolic readings and less anxiety and stress hormones. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892349/. Fibromyalgia patients find some reduction in symptoms http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20306046. Asthmatic children improve their pulmonary function and peak air flow http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9602199.
There are various forms of massage, each targeting specific needs, the most well know being Swedish massage, which is a gentle form using long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements to relax and energize. Sometimes tapping and vibration are utilized as well. Deep massage is a slower, more forceful form targeting deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue, most often used to help muscle damage after injuries. Sports massage is similar to Swedish massage, but the focus is on people who are involved in sports to help prevent or treat injuries. Trigger point massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers which form after injuries or overuse.
The massage therapist should collect a full medical history from their client, in order to be made aware of any conditions that may be aggravated or cause serious problems if massage is done. Be sure to be very honest with your therapist, in order to prevent further and possibly more serious difficulties. Some cautions should be considered. People with bleeding disorders, low platelet count or taking blood thinning medications should not receive vigorous massages. Any areas with blood clots present, fractures, open or healing wounds, skin infections or weakened bones should be avoided. No direct pressure should be applied over areas where tumors are present. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before having massage therapy.
Combining Massage Therapy with other good health practices will go a long way in helping the chronic sufferer wake up one morning and realize that they feel great and are ready to move on with life.