Archive for Alternative Medicine

Massage: Get In Touch With Its Many Benefits

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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 its possible health benefits 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.

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 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 it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Benefits of massage

Massage 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.

Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often involves caring, comfort, a sense of empowerment and creating deep connections with their massage therapist.

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.

Risks of massage

Most people can benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate if you have:

  • Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
  • Burns, open or healing wounds
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Fractures
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Severe thrombocytopenia

Discuss the pros and cons of massage with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or have cancer or unexplained pain.

Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage.

In rare circumstances, massage can cause:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary paralysis
  • Allergic reactions to massage oils or lotions

What you can expect during a massage

You don’t need any special preparation for massage. Before a massage therapy session starts, your massage therapist should ask you about any symptoms, your medical history and what you’re hoping to get out of massage. Your massage therapist should explain the kind of massage and techniques he or she will use.

In a typical massage therapy session, you undress or wear loosefitting clothing. Undress only to the point that you’re comfortable. You generally lie on a table and cover yourself with a sheet. You can also have a massage while sitting in a chair, fully clothed. Your massage therapist should perform an evaluation through touch to locate painful or tense areas and to determine how much pressure to apply.

Depending on preference, your massage therapist may use oil or lotion to reduce friction on your skin. Tell your massage therapist if you might be allergic to any ingredients.

A massage session may last from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of massage and how much time you have. No matter what kind of massage you choose, you should feel calm and relaxed during and after your massage.

If a massage therapist is pushing too hard, ask for lighter pressure. Occasionally you may have a sensitive spot in a muscle that feels like a knot. It’s likely to be uncomfortable while your massage therapist works it out. But if it becomes painful, speak up.

Finding a massage therapist

Massage can be performed by several types of health care professionals, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist or massage therapist. Ask your doctor or someone else you trust for a recommendation. Most states regulate massage therapists through licensing, registration or certification requirements.

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential massage therapist such questions as:

  • Are you licensed, certified or registered?
  • What is your training and experience?
  • How many massage therapy sessions do you think I’ll need?
  • What’s the cost, and is it covered by health insurance?

The take-home message about massage

Brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. To the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are just looking for another stress reliever. You can even learn how to do self-massage or to engage in massage with a partner at home.

Book Now! : A Restorative Therapy ~ Therapeutic Massage

 

Article By: Beauty & Wellness News ~ Arbonne

Massage is Good Medicine

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1. Relieve stress

2. Boost immunity

3. Reduce anxiety

4. Manage low-back pain

5. Help fibromyalgia pain

6. Reduce muscle tension

7. Enhance exercise performance

8. Relieve tension headaches

9. Sleep better

10. Ease symptoms of depression

11. Improve cardiovascular health

12. Reduce pain of osteoarthritis

13. Decrease stress in cancer patients

14. Improve balance in older adults

15. Decrease rheumatoid arthritis pain

16. Temper effects of dementia

17. Promote relaxation

18. Lower blood pressure

19. Decrease symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

20. Help chronic neck pain

21. Lower joint replacement pain

22. Increase range of motion

23. Decrease migraine frequency

24. Improve quality of life in hospice care

25. Reduce chemotherapy-related nausea

Massage As Medicine

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For more than a decade, Bill Cook has gotten a weekly massage. He isn’t a professional athlete. He didn’t receive a lifetime gift certificate to a spa.

Nor is the procedure a mere indulgence, he says – it’s medicinal.

In 2002, Cook – a 58-year-old resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, who once worked in marketing – was diagnosed with a rare illness. He had cardiac sarcoidosis, a condition in which clusters of white blood cells coagulate together and react against a foreign substance in the body, scarring the heart in the process. The disease damaged his heart so badly it went into failure. The doctors said there was nothing they could do, and Cook’s name was put on an organ transplant waiting list.

The wait stretched on for more than a decade. “I probably had the heart capacity of an 80-year-old,” recalls Cook, who was given medication and a pacemaker yet still struggled daily with his sickness. “It wasn’t pushing the blood out to my extremities because it was so weak. It got worse and worse, and I started to look for anything I could find to help my circulation.”

Cook’s cardiologist suggested he try massage therapy. Though he was initially skeptical, Cook – whose son is a physician – says his doubts vanished after several appointments.

“It really helped the circulation to my fingers, toes and legs,” he says. “I kept with it because I saw some pretty significant benefits.” Today, Cook credits the massages – along with stress reduction and a healthy diet – with allowing him to stay healthy and physically active until he finally received his new heart in 2013.

Studies suggest Cook’s cardiologist was onto something – massage does indeed enhance blood flow and improve general circulation. And experts agree it yields additional benefits, too, ranging from the mental to the physical.

Once viewed as a luxury, massage is increasingly recognized as an alternative medical treatment. According to a recent consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association, 77 percent of respondents said their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past year was medical or stress-related. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that medical centers nationwide now offer massage as a form of patient treatment. The American Hospital Association recently surveyed 1,007 hospitals about their use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies, and more than 80 percent said they offered massage therapy. Upwards of 70 percent said they used massage for pain management and relief.

“The medical community is more accepting of massage therapy than ever before,” says Jerrilyn Cambron, board president of the Massage Therapy Foundation. “Many massage therapists now have active, fruitful relationships with conventional care providers.”

Should you integrate massage therapy into your wellness routine? Consider the practice’s advantages, along with advice on how to make the most out of your appointment:

How Massage Works

There are myriad massage techniques, as well as ways to receive it. Sometimes the massage therapist’s touch will be deep; other times, light. You may keep your clothes on and sit in a chair, or lay unclothed on a table underneath a sheet. The massage could last for a few minutes or an hour. Occasionally it’ll be a full body massage; other times the massage therapist will focus on an isolated muscle group.

However, all massages boil down to the same thing: the therapeutic manipulation of the body’s soft tissues using a series of pressured movements. A massage therapist uses his or her hands, elbows, fingers, knees or forearms to administer touches ranging from light strokes to deep kneading motions. Occasionally, therapists will also use a massage device.

Most people agree massage feels good. But does science support the notion that it’s good for you?

“We do not yet have a complete understanding of what happens physiologically during massage or why it works,” Cambron says. But a recent study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests massage reduces the body’s production of cytokines – proteins that contribute to inflammation. Massage therapy was also shown to stimulate mitochondria, the energy-producing units in cells that aid in cell function and repair.

Plus, massage is thought to reduce cortisol levels and regulate the body’s sympathetic nervous system – both of which go haywire when you’re stressed, says Lisa Corbin, an associate professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

Who Does It Help?

A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that massage therapy is a beneficial treatment for chronic back pain. Sure enough, Becky Phelan, a licensed massage therapist who lives in Taunton, Massachusetts, says most patients visit her for “some vague, chronic pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back.” The soreness is typically caused by various lifestyle factors – desk posture at work, sleeping positions and seemingly minor things, such as wearing heels or carrying a heavy pocketbook or wallet.

But many people are seeking relief from a more serious condition, says Winona Bontrager, a licensed massage therapist who runs the Lancaster School of Massage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Some have cancer; studies have shown massage helps lessen these patients’ pain and fatigue while elevating mood. Many of Bontrager’a clients struggle with anxiety and depression, which researchers have noted can be reduced through massage therapy. And she also sees clients with disorders and diseases as diverse as fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (commonly called “TMJ”) and irritable bowel syndrome. They, too, find relief through massage.

Additional research indicates massage therapy helps individuals with migraines, insomnia or other tension-related issues. It also benefits post-operative patients; massage shows potential to help with wound healing by increasing blood flow.

Corbin says anyone can get a massage, regardless of age or physical health. Those with chronic medical conditions, however, need to avoid the corner spa and seek out someone who specializes in medical massage. They’ll also need to give the massage therapist a health history so he or she can adapt techniques and touch to their needs.

Finding a Massage Therapist

Cook has seen the same massage therapist for years. “Find somebody who has really good experience – they’re certified, they’re licensed, they’ve been in the business a long time and they get referrals,” he says. “Like anything else, there’s good massage therapists, and there’s bad ones.”

Most states have different regulations for massage therapists, which sometimes makes it tricky to decipher their credentials. Some offer licenses, while others require registration or a certification. Bontranger recommends prospective clients visit the American Massage Therapy Association’s website, where they can search for a qualified massage therapist based on training, expertise and location.

And Corbin suggests patients with cancer or other serious illnesses seek out a licensed massage therapist who focuses on medical massage and works in a hospital setting.

What Type of Massage Should I Request?

Thanks to the dizzying array of options offered at spas, many people go into their first appointments confused about which type of massage to get, Corbin says. “People are always asking, ‘Should I get a deep tissue massage? Should I get a Swedish? I think the important thing – especially when you’re talking about medical massage, or massage for health benefits – is to go to a massage therapist who can adjust the technique based on what you need.”

Bottom line? Don’t stress about whether you’re getting a Swedish or a shiatsu massage. Instead, focus on finding a good provider. He or she will be able to combine different types of pressure, ranging from light to hard, and focus on your problem areas.

Article By: Kirstin Fawcett – US News