Massages are a popular way to reduce stress and relax. They may also have other health benefits. Different types of massages are used to treat a variety of medical conditions and injuries.
For example, massage can relieve tension in the connective tissue called fascia that holds muscles, bones, and organs together. It can also lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues. It uses slow and firm pressure and is designed to release muscle tightness and improve range of motion in chronically tense areas such as the neck, shoulders, and back. It is also used for athletes looking to enhance performance before or after competitions or training sessions.
Tight muscles restrict blood flow which impedes the distribution of nutrients and oxygen, leading to pain and stress. This cycle can be broken by the kneading and circular movements of a skilled therapist. When the tension is released, it breaks up scar tissue and releases built-up toxins, freeing your body to function as it should.
Some people find that getting a deep tissue massage can be painful, although this is usually due to an overdose of pressure applied by inexperienced or careless therapists. This type of pain is referred to as the “bad hurt” and it is generally felt in the form of sharp, burning, or hot sensations. It is typically caused by trigger points, nodules that are formed in bands of muscles. When these are treated correctly, this type of pain is temporary and therapeutically beneficial.
Another benefit of getting a deep tissue massage is the increased flexibility that it can provide. Tight muscles can restrict movement and cause a wide range of issues from chronic foot problems such as plantar fasciitis to fibromyalgia, sciatica, and arthritis. The increased blood circulation stimulated by the massage can help reduce inflammation and increase healing.
Lastly, people who suffer from headaches can find relief from regular deep tissue massage sessions. Studies have shown that this type of massage can help to decrease the intensity and frequency of headaches, as well as lower the amount of medication needed to control them.
It is important to note that deep tissue massage should not be used on individuals with blood clots or those at risk of forming them, as it can dislodge the clots and cause serious harm. In addition, people who have osteoporosis should avoid this treatment, as the increased pressure on the joints can weaken them.
Trigger Point Massage
Trigger points are sore, painful spots–also known as knots–in muscles. These sensitive areas form when muscle fibers become tight and shortened, restricting blood flow and leading to a build up of waste materials. Trigger point massage targets these knots to relieve the pain they cause and prevent them from re-forming.
During this type of massage, the therapist finds these tender spots and applies pressure to them for about 8 seconds. They may knead the area, apply circular motions or use a tool like a tennis ball or massage gun to help increase blood flow to the affected muscle. They will repeat this process until the pain in that area decreases, signaling that sufficient blood flow has been restored.
This is a relatively fast and effective treatment, with many patients experiencing immediate relief. However, the pain and discomfort associated with trigger point massage can sometimes linger for some time afterward. This can be due to the sensitivity of the muscles, which may require more direct and intense pressure to release the knots. It is also possible to experience fatigue or bruising in the affected areas after the massage.
It is important to communicate with your therapist during a trigger point massage so they can ensure the pressure is at a comfortable level. If you are feeling any significant pain or discomfort, tell your therapist right away so they can reduce the amount of pressure being applied.
The massage may take longer than other types of treatments because the therapist is targeting specific, highly sensitive knots in your body. These can be a result of repetitive movements, overuse or poor posture. However, it is also possible to develop trigger points after an unavoidable injury such as a car accident or even from lifting a heavy box.
Regardless of the cause, trigger points can affect how you function and feel. By releasing these knots, you can feel more flexibility in the affected area and overall improve your mobility. This can be a great way to treat chronic back pain or other conditions related to muscle pain.
Developed originally to help athletes recover from workouts and sporting events and increase their performance levels, sports massage manipulates the musculoskeletal system – ligaments, tendons and muscle fibres – with different techniques. The goal is to improve the flexibility of these muscles and joints, thereby reducing the risk of injury and improving the efficiency of athletic movements.
When a sports massage is performed, the client lies on his or her back or side and the therapist moves and manipulates the injured muscle tissue and joints with various strokes, including effleurage (stroking), effleurage combined with friction, and other techniques. In addition, the therapist uses stretching exercises to improve joint movement and reduce muscle tightness.
As with other types of massage, a good sports massage stimulates the lymphatic system to remove waste from the body. This, in turn, helps reduce swelling and bruising.
It also improves the elasticity of muscle tissues. This is accomplished through the use of Petrissage techniques – wringing and rolling – which move tissue transversely, helping to stretch fascia compartments and muscle fibres, and increasing their extensibility. This enables the muscles to reach their full range of motion, which is important for optimal performance during exercise and physical activity.
A sports massage can also help reduce inflammation after a workout or a sporting event. During this type of massage, the tissue is stretched and compressed, which breaks up adhesions and allows blood flow to return to normal. In addition, the massage stimulates the neuromuscular pathways, which is important for restoring normal muscle function and preventing further adhesion formation.
Another benefit of sports massage is that it helps the immune system by lowering stress hormones. These hormones can contribute to a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, headaches, and depression. Massage has also been shown to reduce anxiety and promote a better night’s sleep, which is also helpful for the immune system.
Athletes of all ages and abilities are encouraged to incorporate regular sports massage into their fitness regimens. In addition to decreasing the risk of injury and enhancing performance, sports massage helps athletes prepare their bodies for upcoming events, maintain optimal condition throughout training sessions and competitions, and perform at their peak when competing.
Reflexology is based on the principle that points on your feet and hands correspond with specific body parts. When pressure is applied to these reflex points, it is thought that vital energy (called qi in Chinese) flows through the affected area and maintains health.
Though there is little scientific evidence of the efficacy of reflexology, it’s been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as pain and gastrointestinal issues. It also may improve sleep, headaches and menstrual symptoms.
Reflexologists work within a client’s pain threshold and never apply more pressure than a patient can handle. They also consider other factors, such as the client’s mood and health history, when determining how often a session should take place.
In addition to improving general wellness, reflexology has been known to reduce migraines and other types of headaches, as well as alleviate a wide range of chronic ailments, including digestive issues, back pain, arthritis, respiratory problems, insomnia, depression and anxiety. It can even help to reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, according to one study.
Research has shown that reflexology can stimulate your nervous system, boosting cognitive strength and speeding up the body’s physical reactions. It can also reduce stress and encourage the release of endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that elevate your mood and boost feelings of happiness.
Aside from reducing stress and promoting relaxation, reflexology is believed to improve circulation. This helps to oxygenate your cells, which then promotes healing and increases metabolism. It can also improve the function of your bladder and reduce the chance of urinary tract disorders.
However, while reflexology has many potential benefits, it should never be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you are interested in trying this type of massage, be sure to check with your doctor first, particularly if you have diabetes or epilepsy. It’s also important to tell your reflexologist if you are pregnant, as some reflexology points can induce contractions. This will prevent any damage or injury to the baby.