Benefits of Massage Bodywork
Almost anyone who is familiar with massage should already be knowledgeable of the benefits of relaxation, comfort and care that are produced from most bodywork: That post-massage feeling where your mind is clear and your body is relaxed. The occasional massage is wonderful, but regular bodywork can do so much more. There are many different styles and modalities that can be used, including:
- Swedish massage
- Trigger point therapy
- Connective tissue release
- Myofascial release
- Sports massage
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Today, the benefits of massage are being recognized by a wider array of institutions besides the standard spa. Studies show that bodywork is an effective way of treating pain, muscle tension, and reducing stress. Bodywork is increasingly being offered in such places as clinics, hospitals, airports, and other businesses.
More studies have shown that massage can be helpful for sports injuries, headaches, soft tissue strains or injuries, anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, and temporomandibular joint pain, increased circulation, enhancing the immune system, promoting nervous system function, increasing muscle tone, and stimulating the functions of the skin, just to name a few, and it allows for a better range of motions and support for the connective tissue and muscle. In all, massage is a great way to upkeep an individual’s body, mind, and spirit.
Weeding Out the Bodywork Novices from the Professionals
Finding a qualified, licensed or certified therapist is the first step to receiving these benefits. A new client should ask their therapist such questions as, “Do you have your massage therapy license or certification?”, “Did you attend an accredited school of massage therapy?”, and “What massage therapy related classes have you taken?”
Weeding out the bodywork novices from the professionals will help in achieving the benefits that massage offers. Extensive training gives the therapist the ability to take a thorough history, identify contraindications (reasons to not massage) and make referrals to and receive referrals from other health care professionals such as physicians, chiropractors, osteopaths, and dentists. A health care provider can also write a prescription for massage therapy, and the therapist may be able to bill insurance groups and worker’s compensation for the therapy services.
Stress Relief for Aching Bodies
Stress relief is probably at the top of most lists when people consider the benefits of massage. Everyday life is full of stress-inducing scenarios. We fight traffic, worry about paying bills, and doing mundane errands that can lead to stress and tension within our bodies. Sometimes, this stress and tension can slowly grow, without notice, until we are hit all at once and we need that massage.
What Does The Research Say?
Research has shown that massage can lower the heart rate and blood pressure, relax the muscles and increase the production of endorphins. Serotonin and dopamine are also released. This creates the feeling of calmness and relaxation that makes chronic as well as acute stress much easier to overcome. Bodywork can significantly lower the heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels. This helps to explain how massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand. Less stress in the body means lowered anxiety, irritability or anger, restlessness, sadness or depression. Physical attributes that are reduced through bodywork may help to lower fatigue, chest pain, headache, low sex drive, and upset stomach.
Massage for Professional Athletes
Massage can also be used to greatly benefit the athlete. Professional athletic teams have acknowledged the benefits of massage therapy and will often have a certified or licensed massage therapist on their payroll. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage acts to improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and shorten recovery time. This helps the athletes to perform at a better level and reduce the amount of time they would not be able to play if an injury were to occur.
The massage therapist uses massage to manually encourage venous blood flow back to the heart and enhance blood flow, which delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissue and promotes the removal of waste products and toxins. The increased and enhanced blood circulation helps to relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and make for a faster recovery. These relaxed muscles can now experience an increase in range of motion and flexibility. Both of these things can lead to a better athletic performance.
Benefits for Those with Chronic Illness
Bodywork and massage can also have benefits for those suffering from chronic illness. Chronic illness refers to a disease, injury, or a condition that can have little change or progresses slowly. Chronic pain and chronic illness can leave awful stress and strain on an individual. It can take a heavy toll on both emotional and physical strength. Chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, and disc problems that cause back pain respond well to massage. Massage is part of a team effort to treat and manage chronic illness. The massage therapist should work along with a client’s physician and other members of the health care team.
The more the practitioner knows about the client’s illness, medication, and treatment plan, the more effective massage treatment can be. Bodywork may also be able to decrease the client’s dependence on certain medications, speed up the healing process and enhance the ability to deal with stress.
Fibromyalgia and arthritis
Fibromyalgia and arthritis are two chronic pain syndromes that can be positively impacted by massage therapy. The massage therapist can use techniques that encourage circulation in the muscles, which can increase the flow of nutrients and eliminate waste products. This is beneficial for those with fibromyalgia as it can reduce heart rate, relax muscles, improve range of motion in joints and increase production of the body’s natural painkillers.
One main symptom of fibromyalgia is lethargy and tiredness. After receiving bodywork, the person with fibromyalgia will most likely feel a deeper sense of relaxation and see improvement in sleep through the night. Massage can significantly improve issues in pain, stiffness and physical function. People with arthritis in their wrists and hands can experience less pain and greater grip strength after bodywork, as well as lowering anxiety and helping combat depression.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in the field of bodywork, Fremont College offers a 7-month diploma in Massage Therapy and a 15-month Associate of Science degree in Sports & Rehabilitation Therapy. Upon enrollment in massage therapy school, students will have the opportunity to work with a dedicated Career Development team, which is committed to supporting students in their pursuit of employment upon graduation. *
*In no way does Fremont College promise or guarantee employment or level of income/wages