Massage has been around for thousands of years. Even the ancient civilizations used it for relaxation and its medicinal benefits. It used to be a treat only available to royalty, but now everyone can get a massage for an affordable price.
This relaxing ritual is no longer limited to luxurious spas, retreats, and health clubs. You can get a massage in your office, at a hotel, at a clinic, or even in the comfort of your home. There are plenty of physical medicine practitioners who offer massage services. You can even try one of those massage chairs if you want a more practical solution, though humans probably do it better.
This article will look into different types of massage and their benefits, as well as the potential risks associated with this ritual. You will also learn the answer to a frequently asked question – how often should you get a massage?
Types of Massage
There are almost a hundred massage styles from various cultures, which use a variety of techniques, movements, and pressures. Massage refers to the act of manipulating, rubbing, and pressing of tendons, muscles, ligaments, and skin.
Massages can be light and relaxing, but if you want to untie some serious knots, deep pressure has to be applied. Some massage techniques even involve the masseur’s elbows or their feet. As part of these techniques, the masseur stands on you and applies pressure like that. If that is your massage choice, it would be a good idea to choose a petite female masseuse over a strong man.
There are a plethora of massage techniques, but here are some of the most used:
- Deep massage – This massage style focuses on slow, heavy strokes which aim at the inside of the connective tissue and muscle. It is mostly used to assist with the pain and muscle damage suffered from serious injuries.
- Swedish massage – The opposite of deep massage, this type of massage is very gentle. It consists of wide circular movements, kneading, and lengthy strokes that aim to improve circulation. Swedish massage is good for both the activation of the muscles and relaxation.
- Trigger point massage – This type of massage applies pressure to tight muscle areas. These areas can form after prolonged use of muscles as a result of heavy exercise or injuries.
- Sports massage – This massage technique is like Swedish massage, slow and steady. It is commonly used in sports for athletes who are injured, or as a method of prevention because it helps the muscles become more flexible.
- Shiatsu massage – This Japanese technique uses finger pressure, as its name suggests (“shiatsu” is Japanese for finger pressure). Results are achieved by applying dynamic pressure to the acupressure points. These points are crucial because they allow the chi, the energy of life, to flow through the body.
- Chair massage – You have probably already seen these portable massage devices somewhere, like at a beauty salon or a hotel, or maybe you are lucky and have one in your office. When you put a nickel in, these chairs give you a nice massage of the back, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands – all this while you’re sitting, and you do not even have to strip. Unfortunately, the massage only lasts from five to twenty minutes.
Now that you know all about these various massage types, you may be wondering how to identify the right method for you. As each of these techniques helps with different ailments, try to determine the purpose of the massage prior to going to the therapist. When you arrive, let them know exactly what groups of muscles and/or parts of the body they should focus on and talk to them about one or more styles they should use.
Many Benefits of Massage
Massage is considered a segment of complementary and integrative medicine. You will be offered massage at clinics alongside the regular treatment for many conditions and different situations.
Many studies have confirmed the benefits of massage for stress reduction and relieving muscle tension and pain. Besides that, more research is being done, and some if it claims massage is also useful for:
- Back pain, neck pain, and even headaches
- Depression and anxiety
- Digestive disorders
- Stress-related insomnia
- Injuries or strains of the soft tissue
- Joint pain
- Sport injuries
After a massage, you feel relieved and relaxed like there is no worry in the world. Some say they feel connected to the person who is doing the massage, so it might not be a bad idea to exchange massages with friends or loved ones.
Although massage feels great and has many benefits, it is not a proper substitute for medical care. Consult your doctor about any symptoms you may have prior to taking up massage treatment.
Even though massage is very beneficial to some people, others may not reap the benefits. Some types of massage can make you feel sore the following day. However, during massage, you should not feel pain or discomfort. If you do, let your massage therapist know. If too much pressure is applied during massage, it can lead to some undesirable effects.
Massage can lead to the formation of blood clots in people suffering from high blood pressure. In rare cases, it could result in nerve damage and even skin infections.
You should avoid massage, or at least discuss the pros and cons with your medical practitioner if you have any of the following conditions:
- Wounds that are in the process of healing
- Burns on the skin
- Bone fractures
- Various bleeding disorders
- A severe case of osteoporosis
- Any type of cancer
Can You Have Too Much Massage?
How often should you get a massage? Well, massage itself is not dangerous in any way, especially if it is performed by a trained massage therapist. However, if any of the risk factors mentioned above apply to you, it is in your interest to avoid massage.
Sometimes going to therapy just once is not going to have any effects. Depending on your medical condition and the inflicted area, the time it takes for massage to have an effect varies. If an injury you want to treat is fairly new and constricted to a small area, just two or three treatments may be enough to relieve the pain.
Closing Thoughts on Massage Therapy
You can use massage as an instrument to improve your health, relieve pain and injuries, and get rid of stress. You can turn it into a family activity and help both yourself and your loved ones.
Remember that massage is not harmful to anyone, but may cause some side effects in people who are affected by chronic and/or severe medical conditions. If you’re among them, make sure to discuss it with your therapist prior to your session.