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Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the practice of manual manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues of the body through a variety of techniques ranging from relaxation to clinical and therapeutic applications. A highly experienced therapist can aid in the treatment of medical conditions, ranging from chronic pain management to acute musculoskeletal injuries, including postoperative care.

Massage therapy techniques

Massage techniques vary from light touch to deep tissue. Most massage treatments incorporate a variety of modalities into the session:

  • Swedish massage uses long flowing strokes, gentle kneading, circular movements, and vibratory tapping to increase blood and lymph circulation through the body. This type of massage is good for pre- or post-sports events or on some regular, ongoing schedule to keep the soft tissues of the body well nourished, in collaboration with regular physical workouts.
  • Deep-tissue massage uses slower, more forceful strokes targeting deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, including short strokes in the direction of the muscle fiber, and cross fiber friction. This modality is used to assist with muscle adhesions from repetitive use or injury.
  • Sports massage is a combination of Swedish and deep-tissue with assisted stretching techniques to improve the range of motion of the joints used in a client’s particular sport.
  • Trigger Point massage focuses on tight, sensitive muscle fibers that create referred pain in specific muscle patterns. This modality involves deep, focused compression with some stretching to release the injured segment of muscle fiber.

Massage therapy benefits and applications

Clinical research has shown that massage can be effective in:

  • relieving stress
  • reducing blood pressure
  • aiding in healing muscle strains
  • enhancing immune system function
  • increasing blood circulation
  • easing symptoms of arthritis
  • increasing endorphin levels
  • decreasing scar adhesions
  • postsurgical recovery

Massage improves circulation throughout the body thus reducing swelling near a surgery site while assisting with re-educating the nervous, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems in a gentle, integrative manner. It can also be helpful with post operative scar tissue a few weeks after surgery. Through light mobilization and gentle stretching to the scar region it can assist in the proper alignment of collagen fibers and help prevent adhesions between tissue fibers. The therapist will always communicate with you about the appropriateness of the pressure and discuss your comfort level with post-surgical massage.

Message therapy for arthritis and osteoporosis management

Many people with these conditions use massage as part of a long term wellness maintenance program. Recent studies have shown that massage can assist with reducing pain and stiffness, as well as increasing range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints. If you have an inflammatory arthritis please consult with your doctor to check if massage is right for you.

With osteoporosis the therapist will adjust the pressure to a lighter touch especially when addressing the area around the spine, or other affected areas. Remember to communicate with your therapist about your condition, so they can take care with the affected areas by modifying both the pressure and techniques.

Message therapy forpostural alignment

When you work with your physical therapist, yoga, or Pilates instructor, often your goals are to lengthen and stretch the constricted tissues and to strengthen certain muscle groups. At HSS, our massage therapists communicate closely with the rest of your team in order to create a strategy that best accomplishes your goals. An hour of specific work targeting the soft tissue constrictions in your body can greatly benefit your postural realignment process. Please talk to your physical therapist or instructor about the best time for you to receive a massage.

Massage therapy for sports performance and injuries

Sports peformance massage

Massage therapy plays a number of roles in improving sports performance and decreasing the risk of injury by increasing range of motion, assisting with soft tissue recovery, and increasing circulation and nourishment in muscle tissue.

A 15- to 30-minute session before performing athletic activities will raise the body temperature and increase range of motion. If necessary, a therapist can focus on the area that will require exertion during the athletic activity. Therapeutic massage within an hour after the activity will help relieve muscle cramps, reduce edema by restoring the natural blood and lymph flow, and speed up the recovery process.

Sports injury massage

If an athlete is injured, the first thing that we recommend is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. After 48 to 72 hours, massage could be used to reduce blood stagnation and lactic acid build up, prevent adhesion formation, and stimulate the neuromuscular pathways. Lymphatic drainage techniques may be applied to reduce swelling and help the whole body relax and re-integrate after the stress associated with injury.

Once the initial, acute stage of the injury has passed, deeper tissue work can be used to increase circulation and re-establish body awareness. If a strain or sprain is present, light stroking in the direction of muscle fibers and gentle twisting of fiber above or below the injury can reduce adhesion formation.

In cases of tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon), light friction techniques across the injured fiber with alternating intensity can be used, followed by icing.

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