The value of massage therapy goes beyond spa pleasure with its elegant furnishings and thick towels. In fact, there are two distinct kinds of massage: therapeutic and wellness.
Therapeutic massage is directed to a specific part of the body that has lost mobility, is impairing daily function and causing pain.
When muscles are injured by repetitive motion, simple movements such as bending, or traumatic injury such as falls or auto accidents, they are sick. Unless the muscle receives proper treatment, more invasive and expensive treatments may be necessary. Instead, a sick muscle can be healed with systematic, consistent therapeutic massage treatments by a trained professional who has learned specific techniques to bring muscles back to health.
Pain may be the first sign — or the last sign — of an injured muscle. Injured muscles constrict blood flow through the tissue, tightening and weakening it. Then injured muscles pinch the nerves running through them, creating pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities. Finally, an injured muscle puts strain on opposing muscles that work overtime to keep the body in balance. That can lead to another series of symptoms.
Seeking therapeutic massage treatment early can prevent more extensive and expensive treatments later. It also lowers or eliminates the need for pain medication.
Once muscles are over the trauma, specialized stretches help the muscle regain elasticity. Without the exercises, patients do not easily regain range of motion. For some people, that may mean an inability to continue working in their field, enjoying time with children or participating in sports activities.
Wellness massage therapy has value, too. It incorporates more modalities or parts of the body and creates a feeling of well-being. Clients feel relaxed and refreshed through a variety of massage experiences. Some massages have a fully-clothed option.
- Sound healing massage helps a patient enter into a state of peace and calm. It combines a Tibetan singing bowl, chimes, music and humming, in conjunction with hands-on massage, to relax muscle tissue and open blood vessels blocked by muscle knots. The end result is a fuller state of relaxation and well-being than traditional massage offers.
- Hot stone massages provide deep heating to areas of the back.
- Acu points cupping massages release tension in the fascia. Fascia is a sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue enveloping, separating or binding together muscles and other soft tissues in the body. Cupping massage also works to balance the body’s meridian system that improves over-all body function.
- Gua Sha, also known as dermal friction, is a scraping technique applied to the surface of lightly-oiled skin with a special piece of bone or stone called a medical board. Gua means to scrape or rub and sha is the term used to describe the appearance of a faint pink, or red, sand-like rash intentionally raised by the technique.
- Deep tissue massage targets deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
- Reflexology is pressure to the feet, hands or ears without oil or lotion that stimulates the organs in the body through reflex points.
- Chair massage typically lasts five to 20 minutes and is performed in a specially-designed chair while the patient is fully clothed.