Health Benefits of Massage
Updated: Jun 9, 2019
Personally, I am a huge proponent of massage therapy. Whether you are going for a relaxing spa getaway or you are a training athlete, massage is usually involved, and with good reason. Some people view massage wrong - it goes way beyond "pampering." Massage provides many positive mental and physical benefits, ranging from easing anxiety and depression to alleviating muscle soreness and improving posture.
I make massage a part of my regular wellness routine for both the mental and physical aspects. For me, massage is necessary for a well-rounded, holistic approach to prioritizing my overall wellbeing. Although I am mindful to incorporate yoga into my routine for relaxation and stretching, massage is still vital to minimize muscle stiffness from my workouts and hours spent sitting on the train or walking in heels. It is also a great stress reliever since I am forced to disconnect, and it releases tension throughout my body.
I am double jointed and I have struggled with tendonitis after years of swimming and playing tennis, so getting regular massage work has helped me better understand my body and become more self aware. I believe that we should understand what our bodies truly need and solve the root cause of health issues, rather than reaching for a quick fix that might create additional problems. It is important to be mindful of how our body responds internally and externally to various foods, workouts, etc. If I try a different workout, do less yoga, sit more, or have a stressful time between massages, I notice a difference in my body and the need to work it out. I like to think of massage as a physical "supplement."
Other great benefits of massage that I love include boosted immunity, decreased blood pressure, and improved sleep. To get a better understanding of the importance of massage, I interviewed my massage therapist, David Bray. He is a Licensed Orthopedic Massage Therapist with his Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science.
How often would you recommend clients get a massage?
D: For the general population, I would suggest receiving massage therapy or some form of bodywork bi-weekly, or at the very least, once a month.
What type of massage do you recommend for most patients?
D: If you’re truly looking for long-lasting therapeutic bodywork, then an Orthopedic Massage would be the way to go. Orthopedic massage therapists tailor an individual’s sessions to their specific needs and incorporate a wide range of techniques to promote permanent changes in posture and gait mechanics.
What are your favorite health benefits of massage?
D: Benefits to massage therapy – especially orthopedic work – is numerous, but if I had to pick a ‘Top 3,’ it would go like this: massage promotes a relaxation response, also called the parasympathetic response, which allows our bodies to release stress, undergo digestion, and begin healing at a cellular level. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. But my all-time favorite is that massage therapy is correlated to a reduction in pain with long-lasting changes in posture and ergonomics by increasing pliability of tissues and range-of-motion (ROM) and decreasing adhesions and trigger point patterns.
Is massage safe for those with injuries?
D: Make sure to speak with your LMT directly before receiving any type of bodywork and let them know as much of your medical history as you can prior to your session. This ensures that your session will run as smoothly as possible and will reduce the likelihood of any complications. Massage is absolutely safe, and techniques can be adjusted based on your individual needs!
How does your degree in Exercise Science impact your outlook as a massage therapist?
D: My degree in Exercise Science allows me to have a broader scope of practice, which isn’t commonly seen in the massage world. Not only am I able to use manual therapy to release “stuck” areas, but I can also prescribe exercises to help the client strengthen weakened structures. The increased education in physiology and kinesiology help me to find postural deviations and patterns that may be attributing to a client’s pain, and I can then educate a client on WHY they’re exhibiting those symptoms. Please note however that my scope of practice in Exercise Science allows me to work with members of a generally healthy population. If you’re seeking therapy for a specific condition or injury, you’ll want to find a Physical Therapist to assist you.
How does Orthopedic Massage differ from what most people experience at a day spa or other locations?
D: Orthopedic Massage is different from the experience you’d get at a spa because the primary goal of the session is not to simply relax you, it’s to cause permanent and lasting change. As an Orthopedic LMT, my job is to find patterns that may be attributing to your pain and fix them. but Although the session IS relaxing, that is not the main concern for the therapist. You won’t find hot stones, hot towels, or a beautifully dim-lit atmosphere in my sessions. Temporary relief is great and has its time and place, but if you want the most bang for your buck, and you’re truly looking for therapy, an orthopedic massage is the way to go.
If you are a Connecticut local, or would like more information on David's services, check out his website here: https://www.orthomassagerg.com/
As always, consult your primary care physician before making any drastic changes to your wellness routine. The key to a healthy and happy life is a balanced and maintainable lifestyle, which means something different for everyone between diet, exercise, self-care and relationships. There is no one-size-fits-all approach :)