A soothing massage can help you unwind, but that's not all. Explore the possible health benefits of massage therapy, plus what to expect.
Massage is no longer available only through luxury spas and upscale health clubs. Today, massage therapy is offered in businesses, clinics, hospitals and even airports. If you've never tried massage, learn about the possible health benefits of massage and what to expect during a massage therapy session.
What is massage?Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage but may also use their forearms, elbows and even feet. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure techniques.
There are many different types of massage, including these common types:
- Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
- Deep-tissue massage. This massage technique uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
- Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage but is geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
- Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on trigger points, or sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.
Benefits of massageMassage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage helpful for:
- Stress relief
- Managing anxiety and depression
- Blood pressure control
- Infant growth
- Sports-related injuries
- Boosting immunity
- Cancer treatment
Despite its benefits, massage isn't meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you're trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.
Bodies By Cindy will have a Workout Wednesday segment on massage airing on August 29, 2012.