The thought of receiving a massage often brings up images of a spa where one has the time and space to fully let-go and relax. This type of relaxation stress-relieving massage is crucial for our busy task-laden lives. Time spent away from technology, our work space, and distraction is why so many are flocking toward things like yoga, meditation retreats, and feel the need for a vacation 1-2 times a year. There is nothing wrong with this type of massage, but thankfully as the field of massage therapy has progressed, there are more reasons why some seek out a professional massage therapist.
Here are FIVE REASONS why you may use massage therapy as a part of your healthcare team:
- Wellness– This is a broad category that includes all of the other categories. It’s impossible to perform one type of massage without having an affect on the entire system as a whole. Stress relief, body awareness, and relaxation are all common denominators when seeking a wellness-style massage. Swedish and Thai are two examples of wellness massage.
- Injury Prevention– Here massage is used to keep the body functioning as optimally as possible taking into account previous injuries and conditions that have a higher probability of re-occurring within your given sport or daily living. For example, if you’ve strained your hamstring in the past, the build-up of scar tissue will increase the risk of re-tearing without direct therapeutic intervention. Massage techniques, such as deep longitudinal stripping, (think removing knots in your hair with a comb) re-align scar tissue patterns that have developed at various angles, reducing the risk of re-injury.
- Rehabilitation– Massage therapy is the primary way to facilitate healing from an injury. Healthy, skilled, therapeutic touch helps promote healing to areas that have gone through trauma by increasing circulation, down-regulating a heightened nervous system, and promoting balanced tissue integrity. Those healing from chronic back pain, shoulder issues, car accidents, and repetitive stress injuries use massage along with strengthening and other modalities to help get back to where they used to be prior to injury.
- Performance Enhancement– This category blends the last three types of massage together in order to enhance performance specific for athletic endeavors, recreational activities, or manual labor. It often includes time spent clearing adhesions, strengthening weak points, reducing tension throughout over-worked areas, and promoting symmetry that becomes distorted with overuse. Active populations typically have a laundry list of injuries, but also need to stay at the top of their game in order to reach peak performance, which means combating stress and hours spent sitting are also top priorities.
- Re-structuring– This type of bodywork is useful for those who are looking to re-balance their structure. This means they have either dealt with repetitive problems or patters that require a different kind of treatment. Postural asymmetries, differences in strength side-to-side, chronic re-occurring injuries are some reasons why many seek this type of work. Those who need and value a slower pace, detailed assessments, subtle and specific myofascial work, and are willing to explore deeper structures find this type of massage to be balancing, freeing, and educational.
While trying to separate why you may seek massage for different reasons, it may be that all of the above fit into your story. That is perfectly OK. As humans, we try to compartmentalize each area of our lives, but in reality, they are inseparable. Our stress leads to holding tension in our shoulders, which flares up a past rotator cuff strain, leading to a compensation pattern of moving or breathing differently, which affects our workout, which reduces our performance, coming full circle to how we manage stress. I often see that a specific injury brings someone to massage, which was my own personal story. They come to find that once the injury is no longer a main issue there have been other substantial benefits to receiving work that they hadn’t foreseen.