What is massage therapy?

Massage therapy is a physical modality where practitioners use various pressures, techniques and movements to manipulate muscles and soft tissues in the body. Massage has been around for centuries – it is in our nature to touch our bodies, especially when sore/strained. Massage has been found to be a part of most ancient civilizations including Japan, India, Greece, Rome and China. Most people are aware of  the use of oil during a massage, few know that in traditional Chinese medicine myrrh is recommended to promote circulation, and ease arthritic and rheumatic issues. Another interesting connection between massage and traditional Chinese medicine, in 111CE the Yellow Emperor recommended in Huangdi Neijing (viewed as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine) – ‘massage skin and flesh’.

What are the benefits of receiving massage therapy?

By treating our muscles and soft tissues, practitioners can induce a therapeutic response, promote relaxation, aid in the healing process and assist one’s well-being. It can calm your nervous system, relieve stress and tension, ease any symptoms/pain arising and support injury healing. Massages can also help improve sleep, and boost immunity with regular treatments. There are a few different types of massage, the most common being:

  • Swedish massage – a full-body massage that uses gentle pressure; great for relaxation!
  • Deep tissue massage – focus on releasing tight muscles and tendons; good for chronic muscle pain and general muscle tension.
  • Trigger-point massage – using direct and focused pressure to release a knot or specifically-tight spot in the tissue; great for chronic pain!
  • Myofascial release – your therapist will knead your fascia and muscles to relieve tension combined with deep stretching; ideal for working out tightness in your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back.
  • Lymphatic massage – uses gentle touch to encourage lymph fluid to flow freely; great for those with inflammation and conditions like arthritis.
  • Most massage therapists are well-versed in a few different techniques to provide you with exactly what you need.

What can I expect during a massage appointment?

After discussing a treatment plan, your therapist will leave the room for you to unrobe – your comfort is key, some people take off all their clothing while others leave their undergarments on. Once you are on the table, cover your Self with the top linen and wait for your practitioner to knock to check that you are ready. During your treatment, only the body part being worked on will be uncovered. Your massage therapist will check-in to make sure the pressure is suitable for you; feel free to vocalize how you are feeling or if there is any pain arising. Some practitioners will play calming music, others may use aromatherapy or combine different relaxation modalities into your treatment. At the end of your treatment, your massage therapist will leave the room for you to get dressed – take your time, move slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards. Your practitioner will debrief with you – going over any follow-up/Self-care advice; this is your chance to ask any questions and discuss booking future appointments.

How frequently should I receive massages to see the benefits?

This all depends on your condition and treatment plan; for acute situations – twice per week may be necessary to find some relief. Once your condition is a bit more under control, often once or twice a month is good for maintenance. The more frequent you visit, the more space you’ll experience in your body – too much time between your treatments and you may find yourSelf very tense and not making the progress you expected or desired. Again, this is very personal and dependent upon you and your body – your therapist will be able to appropriately guide you based on your desired result.

Are there any side effects of massage therapy?

Naturally, you may feel some soreness afterwards – make sure to best support yourSelf by drinking lots of water to flush your systems. Depending on the type of massage you received, there may be some lingering soreness; you may feel a bit sleepy or groggy; sometimes slight inflammation or skin redness/bruising can also occur.

Massage therapy has been around in some form or another as long as humans have existed – it is an incredible modality to include as part of your whole-health regime, whether preventive or corrective. We have amazing soon-to-be massage therapists right here at our school clinic! Book your appointment today and treat yourSelf to a lovely massage!