A while ago I talked about the importance of self-care and how much it can benefit you in reaching your fitness goals. Today, I am going to get a little more specific about one of my favorite ways to practice self-care… massage therapy! There are many different types of massage to choose from, depending on your goals for your self-care, and it does have its risks along with benefits, so I am going to give a general over view of it all.
Type of Massage:
- Swedish massage: This is a very relaxing and gentle form of massage. The massage therapist uses long kneading and circular movements that aim to relax and energize you.
- Deep massage: This type of massage is used to help with healing muscle injury. The massage therapist uses more pressure to get deeper into your muscle and connective tissue to help break up knots and adhesions.
- Sports massage: This is another type of “gentle” massage, similar to the Swedish massage. It is targeted specifically to individuals involved in sports and is used to treat and prevent injury.
- Trigger point massage: This kind of massage focuses on one area of the body, versus being done everywhere on your body. The therapist focuses on tight muscle fibers that can form from overuse or injury to a specific muscle.
Benefits of Massage:
Massage is considered a “complimentary” or “alternative” type of medicine that is used in conjunction with standard treatment, such as medications. Obviously, massage is beneficial because it helps break up tight muscle tissue and helps you feel relaxed, but there are many additional benefits as well. Studies have shown that massage reduces muscle tension, muscle pain, and increases a feeling of relaxation. For these reasons it can be helpful in treating conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive disorders, and headaches. Massage also counteracts all of the sitting that comes with a sedentary job. Think about this… when you are sitting at a desk all day, you probably tend to be more bent over with your head and shoulders forward as you stare at your computer screen, right? Well, massage helps release the tension that builds in your head and shoulders from being stuck in one position all day. A 2010 study found that massage could also improve your immunity by boosting your white blood cell count, which plays a big role in helping your body fight infection. Besides all of these benefits for specific issues, massage promotes an over all comfort and caring, which can be beneficial for emotional well-being.
Risks of Massage:
While almost anyone will benefit from massage, there are some instances where it may not be a good idea for you. Individuals who have bleeding disorders or are on blood thinning medication may have an increased risk for bleeding and bruising. Burns or open wounds should never be massaged. If you have severe osteoporosis or a fracture you could also be at increased risk for injury. People who have deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) should also avoid massage for risk of the blood clot becoming loose and traveling in your body. You should always ask your doctor or health professional before any kind of alternative therapy, to make sure it is right for you.
While getting a massage is a great way to feel better and pamper yourself, it has many other benefits associated with it! Whether you are looking to help with a specific condition you have or just looking for a way to relax and unwind, scheduling a massage is a great addition to your self-care routine.
Image by: Mike Zuch. 2017. Zuch Photography.