The Healing Power of Massage Therapy

If you massage my back I’ll massage yours. I know that’s not how the saying goes, but it works doesn’t it? Just the thought of a massage relaxes my shoulders. The definition of “massage” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the “manipulation of tissues (as by rubbing, kneading, or tapping) with the hand or an instrument for relaxation or therapeutic purposes.”

The practice of massage has been around for thousands of years in various forms. Today anyone wishing to be a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) in Ontario must take a college course and then register with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. The services provided by RMTs are covered by many health insurance programs offered by employers. If this is offered at your workplace it is a great benefit to use.

There are various types of massage such as:

  • Swedish massage: This is a gentle form of massage that leaves you feeling relaxed and energized. 

  • Deep massage: This gets to the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to help heal muscle damage caused by injuries. 

  • Sports massage: Similar to the Swedish massage style it is geared to specific activities to help prevent or treat injuries. 

  • Trigger Point massage: If this one sounds painful it’s because it is or it can be. It targets tight muscle fibres in order to loosen them up. 

Beyond feeling good (in most cases) massage facilitates circulation. When pressure is applied blood moves away from that area of the body. When the pressure is released blood moves back in. Good circulation is essential to both the healing process and to the staying healthy process. The pressure and release process flushes lactic acid from the muscle and it improves the circulation of the lymph fluid that carries away metabolic waste from muscles and internal organics. Overall improved body function is the result.

In addition to accelerating the healing of injuries studies are showing that massage is helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, Fibromyalgia, headaches and stress related insomnia.

If going for a massage is not your thing self-massage can be a benefit. Try it on your head or your feet using your hands. Take your time. Find spots that are tight and gently massage them out a bit.  For those hard to reach places, foam rollers or lacrosse balls are great for glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles and the infamous IT Band that can cause so much pain when it gets too tight. 

Massage is all about keeping the body moving well. If it’s currently not part of your maintenance plan now would be a good time to add it.

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