This is a treatment which makes use of hands to give massage to the body’s soft tissue including muscle and fascia. It has been believed that massage has a therapeutic effect, which promotes blood and lymph flow as well as making muscle and connective tissue supple. Muscular exertion therapy – helps in dispelling the buildup of lactate that might cause cramps.
Per Henrik Ling, the creator of Swedish massage, have described the principles of modern-day massage techniques 100 years ago. Massage therapy is practiced in almost all health care systems where it is used to treat variety of physical and mental symptoms. It has not been shown to have any curative effect in grave or life-threatening illnesses, but it benefits people with mental disorders as a form of relaxation therapy.
A massage therapist uses one of the current techniques and applies different methods in order to satisfy their clients. Massage is applicable to people of all ages. Timings may vary, but a full body massage takes about one hour. Massage therapy can also be combined with other therapies, for example, the use of aromatherapy or reflexology where pressure is applied manually to specific reflex points on the feet.
Percussion: The use of rhythmic drumming movements over the body parts, especially on the neck.
Trigger point therapy: The use of focal and sustained finger pressure to painful taut (drawn tight) areas in the muscle and surrounding tissues referred to as trigger-points. This is carried out in conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Sports massage: This employs various massage techniques in the sports, where the aim is to enhance or improve performance as well as to recover from injury soon (strain, tendonitis) and prevent injury.
Deep tissue massage: This employs powerful manual strokes of slow rhythm accompanied by concentrated finger pressure to areas of chronic tension or stiffness. It relieves stiffness and regains flexibility of an area such as a stiff neck or a tight shoulder area.
Petrissage: Petrissage are massage movements with applied pressure which are deep and compress the underlying muscles. This involves grasping the tissue group and applying pressure through kneading, rolling, or pressing in an on-off rhythmic manner.
The benefits of massage therapy include:
- Decreases serum cortisol levels and increases the levels of natural killer cells (which benefits immunologically).
- Reduces anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain and stiffness in muscles.
- Improvements in joint range and movements.
- Assistance with stress management.
- Helps in managing work or sport related injuries to soft tissue, including muscles.
However, massage therapy should be done carefully. It could worsen the existing swelling and oedema of tissues. Hence, during pregnancy, massage should be carried out only after getting a proper advice from an obstetrician. Anyway abdominal massage should be avoided in the first three months of pregnancy.
Massage should be avoided during the following cases:
- When there is a skin infection or open wound.
- Following chemotherapy.
- In areas where there is significant bruising or recent bleeding.
- In areas where there has been a recent fracture.
- And during the immediate post-operative period.
People who have experienced traumatic sexual abuse may be very uncomfortable with the manual approach used in massage therapy. On the whole, massage helps to have a feeling of relaxation, but in certain circumstances it should be avoided.