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Massage Basics 101: Don't Get Rubbed the Wrong Way

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By    |   Tuesday, 12 Sep 2017 01:11 PM

Having a massage isn’t just a luxury for the pampered set. For many folks it’s how they regularly de-stress, improve circulation, and ease their aching muscles. But numerous studies also show the health benefits of healing touch go far beyond soothing aches and pains.

“There are various massage techniques that can enhance your immune system, provide skeletal-muscular care, improve skin tone and circulation and improve psychological and emotional well-being,” says Rebekah Frizzelle-Owens, a board-certified therapeutic massage therapist who teaches the science of massage at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Statistics show that 15 percent of Americans receive at least one massage annually with 54 percent doing so for medical or health reasons. A full 92 percent believe it can be an effective tool in reducing pain and 23 percent use massage for stress reduction and relaxation.

“Once you’ve decided to add massage care to your healthy life practice, find someone you are comfortable with,” notes Kat Farber, LMT, a certified aroma therapist who has a clinical massage practice in Memphis focusing on oncology massage, auto-immune disorders, and pain management.

Both Frizzelle-Owens and Farber tell Newsmax Health that you may have to try a few massage therapists to find one who shares your philosophy of care and puts you at ease to reach your therapeutic goals.

“Also, check with your healthcare practitioner before getting a massage if you suffer from blood clots, certain cardiac conditions, local or systemic infections, infectious skin diseases, or other contagious illnesses,” notes Frizzelle-Owens.

Here are five of the most popular types of massage techniques and their health benefits:

Swedish massage. Probably the most common, this type of massage is designed to relax the body and increase circulation. It focuses on the skin and superficial layers of muscle while the therapist tends to bring blood flow to the heart. The benefits include general relaxation, improved circulation, dissolution of scar tissue, and reduction of swelling from injuries.

Deep tissue massage. The therapist will use deeper and slower strokes and friction techniques across the muscles to loosen chronically tight or painful areas. It’s best to have a Swedish massage first so that the muscles are already relaxed. Deep tissue massage can help correct postural problems and reduce inflammation pain caused by arthritis and tendonitis. “You may feel sore for one or two days after the massage,” says Frizzelle-Owens.

Sports massage. Athletes can enhance their performance and prevent injury by having regular sports massages, says Farber. Therapists use a combination of techniques including facilitated stretching. It’s faster than a normal Swish massage and helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.

Hot stone massage. This very popular and sensuous massage uses black basalt stones in varying sizes to work out knots in muscles and release muscle tension with gentle pressure applied with Swedish strokes. The heat also encourages blood flow and lymphatic drain. Cold stones may be used to reduce inflammation and are effective in treating sinus headaches.

Myofascial release. The therapist applies sustained pressure and movement into the fascia, the fine tissue that surrounds the muscles and muscle fibers. This helps release areas of restriction and immobility, says Frizzelle-Owens. It also helps relieve cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restricted movement, headaches and other forms of chronic pain.

“When searching for a massage therapist, always begin with referrals from people in your life who are already receiving massages,” says Frizzelle-Owens.

“There may be some trial and error in the process but don’t get discouraged! Don’t be shy in communicating your needs to the therapist. Let him or her know that the pressure is too soft or too firm. If you need something like water or a blanket to feel warmer, express yourself.

“If you are tense or uncomfortable on the table, this will prevent you from having a great experience. Finding a good therapist and making massage a regular part of your health care routine, can be life altering.”

© 2017 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

 
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Massage isn't just for folks who like to be pampered. Studies show it can ease stress, improve circulation, and boost immunity, in addition to alleviating aches and pains. But it's important to understand the different techniques and pick one that's right for your needs. Here's a primer.
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2017-11-12
Tuesday, 12 Sep 2017 01:11 PM
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