Medical massage is a popular therapy used to relieve muscle tension, spasms, inflammation, fluid retention, aches, stiffness, and pain. Other benefits include improved circulation (blood and lymph), general flexibility, range of motion, and increased tissue elasticity (e.g. scar tissue).
During treatment, the massage therapist may include localized massage (e.g. low back or neck) as a prelude to exercise. Massage increases circulation and warms muscles and other soft tissues (e.g. tendons, ligaments). Other types of massage include full-body massage, which often leaves the patient feeling relaxed and free of anxiety.
To enjoy the benefits of massage which have been discussed, it is best to receive a therapeutic massage from a practitioner who has blended a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and massage technique with a sensitive, powerful touch and the healing sense.
How does medical massage work to relax muscles?
As the therapist uses their hands or specialized tools to rhythmically knead, rub, and stroke (effluerage) muscles, circulation is stimulated. Blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients, and is key to helping muscles eliminate waste products such as lactic acid that may collect in muscles from spasms causing pain. Following trauma, muscles may act as mini-splints to protect and limit motion, similar to a cast on a broken arm. A typical example is a person who uses a computer for a prolonged time period without taking a break to stretch the neck. The result: stiff neck, aching, even pain. Taking periodic breaks to rub (mini-massage) and stretch the neck will promote circulation to the muscles.