Massage is an incredibly effective treatment for muscular aches and pains, stress, soft tissue injuries and mild oedema. Massage is a therapy that alleviates symptoms and it does not provide a cure for a client's under ill health. Quite often massage is best applied in conjuction with treatments provided by Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists and as a therapist you should not hesitate to refer a client to any or all of these highly skilled practitioners.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Massage
Massage Therapy affects the function of nerves
Massage does this indirectly by its sedating effect. Massage can also be used to stimulate the nervous hanging on the techniques used.
Massage Therapy affects blood circulation
Capillaries dilate (increase in diameter) due to direct pressure as well as a neurological reflex. This increases venous circulation and removal of waste products of metabolism like lactic acid. Dilation of these vessels allow more oxygenated blood flow into the area.
M assage The rapy affects lymph circulation
Lymph circulation depends on gravity, muscle contraction, active or passive movement, and external pressure then massage improvements lymph flow.
Massage Therapy affects muscle tissue
Metabolism is enhanced through increased oxygenated blood flow and removal of toxins. This accelerates recovery from fatigue which is often caused by lactic acid. This removal of toxins and increase in blood flow reduces the likelihood of muscles suffering from spasms. Massage also slows wasting of muscle tissue due to disease or immobilization if used regularly (ie for people suffering from stroke or those who are bed-ridden).
Massage Therapy affects the skin
The oil producing glands in the skin are stimulated thus improving the secretory function of the skin. The texture of the skin is improved because of enhanced nutrition due to improved blood circulation and because oil friction aids the removal of dead cells on the skin surface. Skin temperature can be increased 2 – 3 degrees Celsius thus improving circulation.
Massage Therapy affects Bones
No massage should be performed for 2 – 3 weeks on a bone that has been fractured, then providing the fracture is healing normally, massage increases the formation of fibrous tissue around a fracture and improving the healing rate of soft tissue.
Massage Therapy affects metabolism
Massage increases the formation of urine by direct pressure on the kidneys and by neurological reflex. The effect on the metabolism is cumulative which is why regular massage is important as a preventive treatment. It affects blood pressure indirectly through relaxation.
Massage Therapy reduces the effects of physical trauma
Massage can help reduce bruising even though no stressed area should be directly touched, all treatments should be done around the injured area. Massage can also help to reduce underdevelopment of connective tissue and dislocation of muscle fibers.
Contraindications for Massage
There are general contra-indications for massage however with clearance from a doctor or other qualified health professional, there can be exceptions. These contraindications may prevent any form of massage from being performed or may require a more specific treatment plan. A professional massage therapist will have been trained in the best way to treat these conditions.
The following are general contra-indications for massage therapy:
- Increased body temperature.
- Acute inflammatory conditions.
- Pus is present.
- Abnormal condition of the skin ie sever burns, sores, eczema etc.
- Varicose veins. Only areas above and below the affected area can be treated.
- Cancer (Cancer patients will normally need clearance from their doctor before receiving massage).
- Pregnancy. (There are exceptions however these are dependent on the trimester, the individual's history and health).
- Poisonous Foci (snake bites, spider bites etc)
- Danger of haemorrhage.
- After recent severe bleeding.
- Recent fraction (no massage in first 2 – 3 weeks following injury).
- Spasticity or exaggerated reflexes (light stroking and passive movements only).