Massage: Benefits and Uses

Massage is an ancient and popular practice of manipulating the body’s muscles and soft tissues to alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. The therapeutic technique is said to have numerous health benefits, from increased flexibility and decreased tension to improved circulation and boosted immunity.

Depending on the type of massage, specific techniques are used to increase circulation, improve lymphatic drainage, reduce muscle tension, and stimulate endorphin production—all while decreasing stress and promoting relaxation.

Types and Benefits of Massage

The most common types of massage therapy include:

  • Swedish Massage: This common type of massage therapy uses long, flowing motions intended to relax the entire body.
  • Deep Tissue Massage: This massage uses intense pressure and deep strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia.
  • Sports Massage: This type of massage focuses on treating injuries and improving athletic performance.
  • Trigger Point Massage: This massage targets small knots in the body that can become irritated from overuse and cause localized pain.
  • Shiatsu Massage: This type of massage uses pressure applied by fingers, thumbs, and palms to targeted areas on the body.

Each of these massage styles are said to offer a variety of therapeutic benefits, including decreased pain, improved circulation, decreased stress, and greater relaxation.

Issues Massage Can Address

Massage can be used to treat a variety of medical issues. A few common issues that massage can help with include:

  • Backaches and neck pain
  • Chronic tension headaches
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Circulatory problems
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Sports injuries

If your doctor has prescribed massage therapy for a health issue, he/she can advise you on the best type to receive, as well as the frequency and length of each session.

Who Should Avoid Massage?

Massage is generally considered safe and beneficial for most people, but there are some exceptions. Some people should avoid massage under certain circumstances, such as those with:

  • Active scar tissue
  • Blood clots
  • Dermatitis or open wounds
  • Fever or infection
  • Inflamed joints
  • Muscle spasms
  • Recent fractures

If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor before you get a massage.

Is Massage Right for You?

If you're looking to relieve stress, reduce tension, improve circulation, or just relax, massage could be a great solution. Talk to a doctor about any medical conditions you have to make sure massage is appropriate and safe for you. And if you're pregnant, talk to your OB/GYN before getting a massage.

When done correctly and safely, massage can have tremendous therapeutic benefits that lead to improved overall health and wellness.