"According to the 2010 American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Consumer Survey, 40% of Americans get massage to relieve stress, and 86% agree that massage can be beneficial for health and wellness. In addition to reducing stress, massage has been studied in pain management and has been found to provide relief for a variety of conditions including arthritis, low back and neck pain. With regular massage, sciatica pain may be reduced and range of motion in pre-frozen shoulder conditions enhanced. The importance of taking time out to get a massage every month cannot be underestimated.
Whether you are considering massage for relaxation or deeper work for musculoskeletal injuries, both can be therapeutic. With today’s stressed out lifestyles, the pampering aspects are secondary to the importance of actual pain reduction therapies and enhanced coping skills. There are three basic types of massage in addition to numerous other modalities:
Basic Swedish Massage: Often viewed as “pampering” massage, blood and lymph flow is stimulated, improving circulation, bringing oxygen to the cells. Massage therapists often use this technique to warm up the tissue before doing deeper work.
Sports Massage: This style includes compression to pump the blood thru the system to get rid of lactic acids quickly, often an energetic massage to enable maximum performance of the athlete. Used on elite athletes and weekend warriors, research shows that regular massage can enhance an athlete’s performance by 20%. (Golfers take note!)
Deep Tissue: May include myofascial release and neuromuscular techniques to help muscle tissue recover from injuries. Sometimes painful, it is often combined with other techniques. It can be very effective, done properly.
What type of massage is best for you? Depends on what you hope to accomplish. Why are you seeking a massage? Are you on stress overload and need to relax or lower your blood pressure? Do you have pain or soreness in your muscles? Most massage professionals are trained in a variety of modalities and the experienced ones will be able to choose techniques to best serve the needs of the client. Discuss your health issues and concerns with your massage therapist. Just remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Years of challenges to your back and neck may receive some relief in one appointment, but often take a series of massage sessions to make progress. Consistency makes all the difference. Regular massage greatly enhances the body’s ability to heal itself.
So, is massage a luxury or therapy? It really depends on your needs as a client, the type of massage you receive and the professional massage therapist who knows what they are doing. Every “body” responds differently. Try a massage, you probably need it more than you realize, luxurious as it may seem."
Kay Wise-Denty, LMT is a massage therapist based in Rockport, Texas.