Massage therapy is defined by Northwestern Health Sciences University as the manual manipulation of soft body tissues such as the muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are two primary types of massage therapy: relaxation massage and rehabilitation massage. In rehabilitation, this also consists of deep tissue, medical, therapeutic or clinical massage, often practiced in medical settings and rehabilitation centers. Relaxation massage, also known as the Swedish massage, is most often practiced in wellness centers, spas, and massage practices.
In a pilot study International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, patients who suffered from multiple sclerosis were given massage therapy treatment for 6 weeks. By the end of the 6 weeks, the patients saw significant improvement in their feelings of fatigue and pain. In addition to the assistance with multiple sclerosis, massage therapy is most often used for: anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains or injuries, sports injuries, temporomandibular joint pain and more. Another, Journal of Depression and Anxiety, found that therapeutic massage, thermotherapy, and relaxing room therapy benefitted 68 patients with generalized anxiety disorder over the course of 12 weeks.
The American Massage Therapy Association states that massage therapy helps people relieve stress, manage low-back pain, reduce anxiety, relieve post-operative pain, improve balance in older adults, promote relaxation, lower blood pressure, improve quality of life in hospice care, decrease stress in cancer patients, improve cardiovascular health, increase range of motion, and more. Massage therapy helps decrease nerve compression and increase joint space, which helps achieve many of the benefits above.
While there are many benefits, some people should not use massage therapy. For example, people who suffer from bleeding disorders, burns, deep vein thrombosis, fractures, severe osteoporosis and more may not be eligible to receive this form of treatment. If you are considering using massage therapy to help you relieve stress, anxiety, or other health issues, speak with a doctor today to determine if massage therapy is appropriate for you.
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