While you can walk into a mall today and get a massage by a vibrating chair under the neon lights and thronging crowds, massage has an ancient and meaningful history. It is one of the oldest healing traditions and was used by many civilizations as a form of therapeutic treatment. The modern massage definition may be closer to a recreational activity than a form of therapy, but it has incredible benefits for a number of medical conditions too.
What is the common massage definition?
The most common massage definition is the application of pressure and kneading of muscles, tendons, connective tissues and ligaments by a trained professional to induce a sense of calm and relaxation.
This massage definition talks about the way we choose to use massage now. We book a massage after a long and stressful period at work, when we’re on holiday, or after an event that is physically exhausting. This is an indulgent massage meaning an experience that we use to reward or pamper ourselves by reducing muscular tension, stress and anxiety.
This form of massage is different from therapeutic massage that is used to treat medical conditions.
What is therapeutic massage?
When you use massage not as an indulgence but as a form of complementary alternative treatment to improve one’s health, it is a therapeutic massage or massage therapy.
A therapeutic massage definition states that it includes manipulation of the soft tissue to improve general health and sense of wellbeing. It may involve moving and applying pressure to the fascia, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
In those circumstances, the massage meaning changes depending on the techniques in which touch, intensity and pressure is used.
Using massage to treat medical conditions
Research has shown that massage can be effective in mitigating and managing a whole range of specific health related disorders such as:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic lower back pain
- Injuries to muscles and soft tissues
- Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
- Migraines and headache
- Digestive disorders
Besides these physical aspects, massages have also shown promise when it comes to mental health by helping an individual deal with:
- Mental fatigue and fogginess
In other cases, massages have also shown to be effective for:
- Mitigation and management of chronic diseases
- Helping dealing with the symptoms and treatment of cancer
Different types of therapeutic massage in Australia
The most common type of therapeutic massage is myotherapy massage meaning a form of massage that treats physical pain or flexibility issues in the body.
However there are other forms of massage also used to treat medical conditions.
Remedial massage: This is primarily used to heal damaged and painful tendons, muscles and other connective tissues. It can be used as a form of diagnosis, where the therapist uses a hands-on approach to locate pain and understand what is causing the pain. It is useful for sciatica, migraines, spondylitis, and frozen shoulders or neck.
Swedish: This involves kneading of the top layers of muscles or hitting and tapping them to deliver relief from ongoing muscle tension. Long, soft strokes are a signature characteristic of this massage but it also uses cupping, kneading, taping, and a few other techniques to diagnose problems. This is useful to help chronic pain, those undergoing cancer treatment, or low back pain.
Pregnancy massage: This massage definition limits it to only pregnant women and treats only the issues that are common during pregnancy. It can help with swollen or sore muscles, swollen joints, back pain and stress caused by pregnancy.
Sports massage: This form of massage was developed to aid athletes with their training and recovery. It allows a sports person to increase flexibility and range of motion while reducing or alleviating injuries.
Reflexology: This involves using hands, fingers and thumbs to work on trigger points in the body, usually the feet.
Neuromuscular therapy: Repetitive motions are employed on troublesome areas in this form of myotherapy to treat chronic pain, trapped nerves, tender muscles and other nagging problems.
Shiatsu: This massage relies on the manipulation of acupressure points to treat a wide range of health conditions.
Hot stone: The massage involves use of heated stones which are placed on certain parts of the body to calm muscles and induce a sense of complete relaxation.
When considering massage therapy, you should know that this is only a complementary form of treatment. It cannot be used on its own to heal or recover from any condition. If you have any preexisting conditions, it is recommended that you consult your medical practitioner about therapeutic massage.
What other benefits does massage offer?
In addition to dealing with the specific medical conditions mentioned above, a massage also offers some other health benefits. After a few sessions, you should notice some of these benefits of massage meaning that your body is benefiting from a regular massage routine:
- Clear skin and improved tone
- Mental clarity and heightened sense of awareness
- Improved blood circulation
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Stronger immunity due to stimulation of the lymphatic system
- Reduced tightness of muscles
- Increased flexibility and joint mobility
- Faster recovery from injuries and exercise
- Improved mental health and sense of wellbeing
When should you not book a massage?
While massages are a good choice of alternate treatment for a wide variety of health problems, there are certain medical conditions during which they are not recommended. In such situations, you should avoid getting a massage or consult your medical practitioner before you book.
Do not get a massage without consulting a doctor if you have the following conditions:
- Chronic or life threatening illnesses
- Infectious skin trouble such as cold sores, eczema or warts
You should also avoid a massage should you be suffering from:
- Cuts, infections or any form of skin rashes
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage of any form
- Fractures or suspected broken bones
If you would like to consult a myotherapist, Avaana can help you find one near you.