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The Many Benefits of Massage Therapy

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Who doesn't like a massage session? All across the centuries, people have realized the benefits of massage therapy on health. Lately, studies have proven that massage therapy has beneficial effects on the circulation.

What is Massage Therapy?



Massage therapy is the process of manipulating deep and superficial muscle layers along with connective tissues so as to bring about healing, promote relaxation, enhance function, improve reflexes, eliminate hyperexitability as well other benefits. Some people have turned to massage as a recreational activity while others found it to be a healing practice. Massaging involves the use of pressure applied to various body parts either manually or by the use of devices or aids. Massage may be applied to joints, muscles, skin, tendons, connective tissue, ligaments, nerve points or various organ systems. It can be applied using the hands, the feet, the fingers and through mechanical aids.

Professionally, a massage is usually done with the patient lying down on a flat massage table, sitting down on a massage chair, or lying down on a mat. A bed or the floor may be used in some settings. The client may be fully or partially clothed or unclothed.

There are many types of massages. Accupressure is a type of massage from ancient Chinese times which was derived from acupuncture. It involves the use of acupressure points where physical pressure is applied by the massager using the hand, the elbow or various mechanical devices. Another type of massage is aquatic bodywork in which movement stretching, massage and joint manipulation are performed in warm water pools. Variations of aquatic bodyworks include Watsu, Water Dance, Jahara technique, Healing Dance, Aquatic Craniosacral Therapy, Aquatic Myofascial Release Therapy, etc.

Anma is another type of massage in which there is kneading of muscles and deep tissue work. It is a type of traditional Japanese massage. Another type of massage, Balinese massage, involves the acts of kneading, stroking, skin folding and other techniques. The aim of this massage is to make the client relax as well as to improve blood and oxygen flow. Hot stones may be used in this type of massage.

Barefoot massage is a type of compressive deep tissue massage that uses deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, transverse friction, compression, tension, shear, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), stretching, as well as parasympathetic response. It involves the use of the foot to massage the client. Another type of massage is Bowen therapy, which involves the use of a rolling movement on the muscles, joints and ligaments. It aims to improve circulation and lymphatic flow.

Breema massage is a type of massage done while the person is fully clothed while employing stretches and rhythmical movements. Champissage massage, on the other hand, focuses on the neck, the head and the face to balance the chakras. Other types of massage include craniosacral therapy (massage to the face, the skull and the spine), Esalen massage (joint exercises), foot massage, hilot massage (from the Philippines), pediatric massage (massage for children), Kum Nye (Tibetan massage), Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian massage), and medical massage. Medical massage is a type of massage used in the medical field that claims to help treat and prevent various illnesses. Examples of medical massage include decongestive therapy used for lymphedema, pain massage, and carotid sinus massage for heart problems.

Still other forms of massage include metamorphic technique (a type of foot, hand and head massage), myofascial release massage, shiatsu and many others.

Massage, Circulation and Muscle Soreness

A recent study from researchers of the University of Illinois at Chicago found out that massage therapy may improve blood flow and relieve muscle soreness after exercise. This study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, was also able to show that massage is able to improve vascular function in people who have not exercised. All in all, the researchers were able to deduce that massage can benefit people with all forms of physical activity. Thus the researchers have concluded that massage may have various benefits in exercise and injuries.

You can read more about massage and exercise when you read our other articles in this site.