Americans are discovering the extensive physical and mental benefits of therapeutic massage. Simply put, massage involves manipulation of the soft tissue — skin and muscles — to help alleviate and sometimes prevent pain, discomfort and muscle spasm, and to help relieve stress. Massage also promotes health and wellness.
Massage therapy improves functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic, muscular, skeletal and nervous systems and may improve the rate at which the body recovers from injury and illness.
Massage doesn’t just feel wonderful. Research shows massage can:
- reduce heart rate
- lower blood pressure
- increase blood circulation and the flow of lymph
- relax muscles
- improve range of motion
- increase endorphins, one of the body’s natural painkillers
The medical community is also recognizing the benefits of massage: in a recent national survey more than half of primary care and family physicians said they would encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy as a complement to medical treatment. Therapeutic massage enhances medical treatment and helps people feel less anxious and stressed, relaxed yet more alert. Therapeutic massage can be a vital part of your regular healthcare maintenance.
As an adjunct to medical treatment, massage may help combat the pain and symptoms of a wide variety of ailments and medical conditions, including :
- asthma and bronchitis
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- chronic and temporary pain
- circulatory problems
- digestive disorders
- sports injuries
What to Expect
At the first appointment the massage therapist will ask about your medical history, lifestyle, stress level, any painful or troublesome areas, and what you hope to accomplish with massage. For a full body massage, you may remove your clothing to your level of comfort. Undressing takes place in private and a sheet is provided for draping. The therapist will undrape only the part of the body being massaged, ensuring modesty is protected at all times. The therapist will inquire during the massage if you are comfortable with the level of pressure being used. Feedback is encouraged so that your session is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. If at any time you have questions regarding your massage please let the therapist know.
An hour is a common length of time for a massage. This is enough time for a deeply relaxing full body massage, or for more in-depth work on a particular area, such as back, neck or shoulders. One and a half hours allows for a full body massage along with special attention to problem areas.
Therapeutic Massage and Your Health