Massage Therapy

Reviewed: September 24, 2013
By eHealthIQ
Massage Therapy

Receiving a massage can be the epitome of relaxation, rejuvenation, and peace. A time to unwind and let go of the stress of day-to-day life. Besides its soothing properties, a massage can also be an effective way to improve health and quality of life.

What is massage?
A brief overview in Wikipedia defines massage as applying pressure to the superficial and deeper layers of muscle as well as connective tissue. Targeted areas of the body are usually muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. Understandably, the word ‘massage’ means “friction of kneading” in French.

Types of massage
There are a variety of massage techniques to aid in health and wellness. Below are some of the most popular.

Swedish–Involves using light touch and circular motions on muscles. Typically used for relaxation and stress relief.

Shiatsu–From Japanese meaning, “finger pressure.” A massage therapist will apply pressure at common acupuncture points on the body and hold for a few seconds. It’s thought that this type of massage can improve the body’s balance and overall energy.

Deep tissue–Similar stroke technique as Swedish massage but slower and firmer motion is used to reach deep muscle tissue.

Reflexology–A foot massage focusing on specific pressure points and areas of the foot which are connected to other systems of the body.

Sports–For those in physically active jobs or who engage in regular physical activity. Its purpose is to treat and prevent injury and contribute to enhanced athletic performance.

Benefits of massage
The benefits of massage extend well beyond the pleasurable feelings of relaxation and restfulness. Dr. Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute noted in a recent interview with More magazine that massage can lower blood pressure, improve sleep by allowing the body to remain in deep sleep longer, reduce cortisol levels and increase immune function, and dramatically reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Which health conditions can massage improve?
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown massage may improve the following health conditions: anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, nerve pain, soft tissue strains or injuries, and sports injuries. It’s important to work in conjunction with a healthcare professional and use massage as a complimentary health technique, not a replacement for medical care.

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