Author: Dr. Scott Allin on 23 June 2020
Movies and TV shows have scenes with emperors, mob bosses and major corporate executives receiving massages. They are getting massages to be pampered. Many resorts have their massage areas decorated with drapes blown by the breeze from the ocean. How lovely it is to listen to soft music, close your eyes and have the sore parts of your body gently rubbed.
However, massage therapy can also be an extremely valuable part of one’s personal self-care and health care plan. Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are trained in physiology (how organs and muscles process nutrients, and energy) and anatomy (the location of organs and muscles and how they interact). With a solid bases in these two fields, they master techniques about how to relieve physical stress and pain through touch.
Why can massage therapy be considered self-care?
Pain can be caused by decreased blood flow to specific areas. Massages increase blood flow1. Nurturing touch decreases the levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) in the body2 and increases feel good hormones3. Massage therapists can therefor help their clients manage pain from surgeries, headaches, fibromyalgia and arthritis4.
Pain can also be brought on by swelling (edema), due to pregnancy, lymphodemia, medications or other medical conditions. There are massage techniques that focus on the lymphatic capillaries to drain the waste products from the inflammation. These techniques can lessen the swelling and pain4.
An injury, poor posture or poor ergonomics can lead to muscle soreness. A RMT knows techniques to relax muscles by removing trigger points6 and decreasing the amount of fibrosis7(the build up of excess connective tissue). This can be done for acute or overuse injuries, like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis
There are also massage techniques to assist with breathing. Specifically, the techniques loosen mucus and improve lung capacity4. The massage therapists may use these techniques to help a client manage asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and emphysema.
Massage therapy is possibly a valuable part of your self care and healthcare. Let your massage therapist know your goals, and each treatment will be tailored specifically for you.
This post was written by Scott Allin, RMT. Scott currently practices at the Quinte Naturopathic Centre and is available for appointments Monday – Friday. He welcomes any new patients and welcomes back any familiar faces. Please call or email the office to book.
1. Kisner, Carolyn and Lynn Allen Colby. 1996. Therapeutic Exercises: Foundations and Techniques, 2nd Ed. Philidephia: F.A. Davis
2. Feild et al. 1995e. “Massage and Relaxation Therapies Effects on Depressed Adolescent Mothers.” Ttouchpoints. Vol. 2 , no.4:2.
3.Rattray and Ludwig. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating over 70 Conditions. Talus Publishing. 2000. Elora, Ontario.
4. Rattray and Ludwig. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating over 70 Conditions. Talus Publishing. 2000. Elora, Ontario.
5. Rattray and Ludwig. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating over 70 Conditions. Talus Publishing. 2000. Elora, Ontario.
6.Travell, Simons. 1992. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Vol. 2; The Lower extremities. Baltimore; Williams and Wilkins.
7.Boyling, Palastanga. 1994. Grieves’s Modern Manual Therapy, 2nd Ed. The Vertebral Column. Singapore: Churchill Livingstone.
8. Rattray and Ludwig. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating over 70 Conditions. Talus Publishing. 2000. Elora, Ontario.
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