It use to be that people went for a massage to relax, but lately that point of view is changing. And thank goodness for that! Massage therapy is very versatile, and you can have a treatment that focuses on your nervous system by using very light touch, or deep pressure that you have to diaphragmatic breathe through. This makes massage therapy a great addition or focal point of any treatment plan.
Massage therapy’s adaptability makes it a great starting point whether you have been recently injured, or whether you are nursing an injury that you’ve had for multiple years. Massage therapy works with the muscles to release contractile tissues, stretch constricted tissue, and encourage over stretched tissues to return to their normal shape and size. If you have a new injury, your treatment will mostly consistent of lighter strokes that are rapid. When you first injure your body, there can be a lot of inflammation as your body tries to protect itself from getting more injured. If you get a deep treatment while the body is still going through that initial inflammatory response that might trigger your body to create more inflammation and therefore more discomfort and a longer healing time. With rapid strokes it encourages the body to push the inflammatory build up of red blood cells and white blood cells out of the system so the inflammation will go down and more healing can begin. After the initial treatments to get your body to a more comfortable place, the treatments will become more intense and follow the structure of a more chronic injury treatment.
When an injury becomes chronic (usually four weeks or longer), scar tissue forms as a way for the body to protect itself, but scar tissue isn’t as flexible as healthy muscle tissue, and therefore can restrict your range of motion. This can also cause discomfort and pain as the healthy surrounding muscles that would be used for the movement no longer available weaken. Massage therapy is perfect for chronic conditions because the treatment can include work on the injured muscle, as well as the muscles weakened by the original injury. The massage can be quite a bit more intense, as the pressure will be deeper to break up the scar tissue. Scar tissue does not have a lot of blood flow and not very pliable, therefore the therapist needs to work deeper to achieve the best results to break up the tissue. Tissues within the muscle group will also be stretched accordingly, which will create movement of blood and will rejuvenate the muscles that have been chronically tightened and encourage the muscle to elongate and eventually that will reduce your pain.
No matter how far along you are in your journey to recovery massage therapy can help. Yes, massages are still great if you are feeling optimal and have no pain. By receiving regular massage therapy you are less likely to harm your body unexpectedly through activity, as massage increases the blood flow in your body, stretches tight muscles you may not even be aware are tight, and keep your muscle memory in check so that your body will do what it is expected to. Regular massages are also great to reduce stress, which we know progresses aging, because a massage is a set time out of your day when you can relax and be in the moment. If you are suffering from a minor pain, long term injury, or just want to encourage your body to be in optimal condition, massage therapy is great for you.