July 14, 2024

Zenith Tranquil

Information treatments and health conditions

A Beginner’s Guide to This Bodywork

3 min read

When you’re in search of relaxation, a massage can certainly help, but its benefits go far beyond feeling at ease. According to the 2020 AMTA survey, 93 percent of people said that massage was beneficial to overall health and wellness.

May Boost Relaxation and Improve Mental Health

If you sit at a computer all day or have a sedentary job, you may be familiar with the feeling of muscle tightness, especially in your back and shoulders.

“For the average healthy person, the potential benefit of massage therapy is that it helps muscles relax, so you don’t feel as tense,” says Polly Liontis, a licensed massage therapist with the NorthShore University HealthSystem Integrative Medicine Program in Glenview, Illinois. In addition, one-quarter of people said that they received a massage for stress-related reasons, according to the AMTA survey.

Research shows that massage may help healthcare workers manage work-related stresses. People who gave themselves foot massages (foot reflexology) reported less stress, fatigue, and depression, according to a meta-analysis of three trials. Another meta-analysis of eight studies on pregnant women found that massage therapy was useful in moderately decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared with control groups.

May Help Relieve Pain

There are many different pain conditions, from low-back pain to neck pain to osteoarthritis — and more — in which massage therapy may be a treatment to consider. “Research continues to show that massage therapy can make a positive difference for those dealing with chronic pain,” says Colizza.

One review and meta-analysis evaluating various pain populations concluded that massage therapy may be more effective in managing pain than receiving no treatment at all, and it was also found to improve mood and quality of life in some participants.

That said, research on the effects of massage on specific types of pain, like chronic low-back pain, knee pain, and neck and shoulder pain, is still evolving, and it may only suggest short-term benefits, or limited benefits, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Therefore, exactly how massage therapy may affect different types of chronic pain is still being investigated, and more research is ongoing.

May Assist With Injury and Surgery Recovery

After a surgery or injury, the pain and discomfort can make it challenging to get back to everyday activities. Massage therapy may improve the quality of life of people in recovery by alleviating post-operative pain, at least in the short-term, research suggests. In addition, studies have found that adding massage to typical postoperative treatment can help reduce anxiety better than experiencing only the usual care.

Medical Massage Can Be Used in Combination With Some Medical Treatments

One type of specialty massage is medical massage. “These massage therapists have more extensive training in specialty areas,” says Liontis. Medical massage is more commonly offered in a clinic or healthcare setting, along with your conventional treatment plan.

For instance, for people with some cancers, massage can help lessen the side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy. “For people who have certain types of cancer, getting a massage halfway in between appointments can help alleviate the nausea and fatigue, improve their appetite, better sleep, and relieve constipation,” Liontis explains.

Another common medical use is tension headache massage, as in for chronic migraine headaches. Relaxing the muscles and taking your body out of the fight-or-flight stress response may help reduce the number of headaches you experience, says Liontis. If you have an ongoing medical issue and are interested in seeking out integrative therapies, such as medical massage and/or therapeutic massage, talk to your doctor about how it may fit into your treatment.

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