Did you know?
Massage acts on the tight achy muscle in several ways. It helps relax tension and spasm and promotes the release of lactic acid from the tissue. This relaxing action automatically enhances the function of the supplying blood vessels. In addition, massage actively increases the rate of blood flow to and from the area.
Muscles, in the course of their work, use oxygen and nutrients and produce carbon dioxide and waste products. The principle waste product of muscle metabolism is called lactic acid. Nutrients and wastes are transported to and from muscles by the blood circulation, and so the efficiency of this transport system is dependent upon good blood flow. Poor or insufficient blood flow causes an accumulation of lactic acid producing tension in muscles.
There are many types and causes of muscle pain, but all of us are familiar with the stiff achy feeling of a muscle which is reacting to an unusual level of exercise, a chronic strain or build-up of stress-related tension. This achiness is caused by the development of lactic acid residues in the muscles tissue, compounded by the fact that a tight muscle clamps down on its supply blood vessels and impedes drainage of its own tissue.
Because of the high magnesium content, Epsom salts bath can be helpful any time you are suffering from achiness and muscle strain. It is an excellent idea for the evening after you have had a massage because it helps to clear out released lactic acid. Without this, there may be a temporary generalized soreness following the massage treatment of a particularly tight area.
Instructions for taking a bath
Epsom salts are readily available at your local pharmacy. Use 2 to 4 cups in a full bath, the temperature of which is as hot as you can comfortably tolerate. You must soak in the bath for a minimum of 20 minutes, without adding any bathing solutions or oils and without using soap, as these substances will alter the chemistry of the water. After soaking for 20 minutes, you may wash or rinse off as you wish.
To replace the fluid you lose as perspiration, keep a glass of cold water beside you and sip it during the bath. If you like, you may also wring a towel in cold water and wrap it around your neck. As with any hot bath, make sure you get out of the tub slowly and carefully.
If you are over 50 or have diagnosed heart trouble, you should moderate the water temperature and avoid submerging your body above heart level. You should definitely use a cold towel around your neck, keeping a bucket of cold water available beside the tub for wringing. If you have any concerns about whether a hot tub will affect you adversely, please consult with your doctor before using the Epsom salts bath.
What are the many benefits of massage?
- Stress management is a key component for anyone striving to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Massage therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective methods for achieving stress relief. Research studies show massage therapy actually boosts the body’s immune system, which can become compromised from extended periods of stress.
- Enrolling in a reputable massage therapy program leads to significantly increased energy levels, the reduction of nagging pains, and the improvement of our overall physical and mental performance.
- Stress relief benefits: Lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles and increases endorphins.
- Allowing the body to reinforce healthy and natural movements can be one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy. Many aches and pains are due to poor posture. Whether we are driving, working at a desk, or even just standing still, poor posture can contribute to a number of physical aches and pains. Over time, these habits can cause increased body stress and breakdown.
- With a consistent program of massage therapy, the painful points in muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints have greater freedom, and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.
- Benefits of improved posture: Muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints enjoy greater freedom and pressure points are relieved.
- The long term effects of massage therapy are much more than just skin deep. Better circulation is part of the chain reaction that happens in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.
- According to Eileen Cahalane of Alive Magazine: A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue, and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Good circulation brings damaged, tense muscles the oxygen rich blood they need to heal.
- Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.
- Improved circulation is just one more benefit of massage therapy. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, massage can be the key to leading a healthier lifestyle.
- Improved circulation benefits: Enhances blood flow, moves waste away from muscles and internal organs, lowers blood pressure and improves body function.
Lowers Blood Pressure
- One of the most effective ways to stave off high blood pressure is massage therapy. A number of long term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure; decrease salivary and urinary cortisol stress-hormone levels; and lower sources for depression, anxiety and hostility.
- As is the intent with all massage programs, the ultimate goal lies in a pain free and relaxing lifestyle. Controlling blood pressure is just one of the added benefits of massage therapy.
- Lower blood pressure benefits: Lower depression, anxiety, and hostility and keeps stress hormone levels under control. Low blood pressure can contribute to lowering the odds of having a heart attack, kidney failure, or a stroke.
- Not only do tense muscles cause knots and pain in their respective areas in the body, they can create a chain reaction that spreads, making the ability to reduce pain nearly impossible.
- Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax. Not only will massage therapy help relax internal muscles through deep tissue techniques; it can also help individuals become aware of their daily stress levels. Once the body recognizes what true relaxation feels like, the mind can then easily recreate it before stress becomes chronic and damaging. Having this relief from stress can enhance our ability to cope with and enjoy life.
- With deep tissue massage, the massage therapist focuses on deeper tissue structures with intense pressure to release chronic muscle tension and ultimately relax the body.
- Relaxed muscles benefits: Reduces pain that results from tense muscles, aids in relaxation and relieves muscle tension and stiffness.
Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion
- As we age, our joints tighten and we lose the range of motion we once enjoyed in our youth. One of the main reasons we become less flexible as we get older has to do with certain changes that take place in our connective tissues. As we age, our bodies gradually loose fluid and dehydrate.
- Massage therapy is an effective treatment for increasing and maintaining flexibility and motion. By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massage can stimulate the production and retention of our bodies’ natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, making stretching and movement easier, and keeping the body flexible.
- Improve flexibility and range of motion benefits: Stimulates the production of the bodies natural lubricants to keep flexibility at a maximum, can enhance athletic performance as the body ages and helps prevent active lifestyle injuries by keeping the body flexible.
Relieves Tension-Related Headaches
- Massage has two roles when it comes to treating migraines and tension related headaches. In a proactive role, massage treatments are performed on a regular basis to help the body maintain an optimal level of relaxation and stress-relief. This approach reduces the chances of migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points.
- In a comfort role, massage is done to ease the pressure brought on during a migraine or tension related headache. By focusing on the neck, shoulders, and head, massage can decrease the pain and discomfort brought on by migraine or tension headache.
- Relief of tension-related headaches benefits: Decreases occurrences of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. Allows one to maintain a level of relaxation and stress-relief, reducing the chances of stress induced migraines and reduces muscle spasms and trigger points.
Strengthens The Immune System
- Regular therapeutic massage sessions provide significant benefits beyond the immediate relaxation we enjoy. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our body’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced.
- Numerous studies have indicated that massage can increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall.
- In one study by Gail Ironson, M.D., HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in cells that are viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system. This is testing a very narrow aspect of the human immune system, but it does lend scientific credibility to a therapy which is widely recognized as therapeutic, based on experience.
- Strengthen the immune system benefits: Increases the bodies natural killer cells, aids in the fight against bacteria and infection and enhances the bodies ability to get nourishment to important areas.
Enhances Post-Operative Rehabilitation
- In medicine, surgical procedures are many times the only way to achieve lasting relief, although, the surgery itself is just one step in making long term results successful.
- Many consider the most important component of a successful surgical procedure to be the post rehabilitation process. It is during this process that natural movement is re-learned, and freedom of movement is re-enforced. Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard rehabilitation procedures.
- By increasing circulation and relaxing muscles, massage helps the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating areas to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.
- Enhance post-operative rehabilitation benefits: Assists the body in pumping more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, accelerates the rehabilitation process and aids in improving joint movement and flexibility.
Improves Rehabilitation After Injury
- Rehabilitating any injury can be a tiring and frustrating process. While the main goal of physical rehabilitation is to increase strength and flexibility, it often ends before the area has been returned to its full pre-injury state.
- Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard rehabilitation procedures. By increasing circulation and relaxing muscles, massage helps the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating areas to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.
- Massage therapy is also used to aid in pain management as the injury is nursed back to full strength. By committing to a continual massage program, one can accelerate the healing process after injuries are sustained.
- Improve rehabilitation after injury benefits: Supplements standard rehabilitation procedures and helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissue and vital organs.
How should I prepare and what should I expect at my first massage?
Upon arriving you will be asked to fill out a client information form. Your therapist assists many people with a variety of different problems – from relaxation to injury, the information you provide will assist with your treatment. All information will be kept confidential.
MODESTY: For a full body massage, you should remove clothing to your level of comfort. You will be in private surroundings in a comfortable atmosphere and a warmed cushioned table. A towel will be provided for draping. The therapist shall leave the room while you undress and relax onto the table. Only the area to be massaged will be exposed.
ENVIRONMENT: Soothing background music will be available. The therapist will adjust the selection and sound to your liking. Talking is your option but remember this is your time out. Please give the therapist feedback if you experience any discomfort.
LUBRICATION: Oil or lotion is often applied to the skin enabling the massage therapist’s hands to move more easily over your skin.
What can I expect after my first massage?
Immediately after your massage you should experience a sense of relaxation.
Your mind should be clear, and you should feel refreshed. This should last from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Let your body accept the experience of inner peace. Throughout the remainder of the day be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush the toxins and lactic acid out of your body. This will reduce the chance of soreness the following day. Be sure to call me if the soreness is not tolerable and I will explain what is happening depending on what the treatment was the previous day for you. As a general rule the more intense the treatment the better chance of post treatment soreness. Also, stretching is a good idea. I will show you good stretches to do at home to help keep the treatment from lasting just a few days.
It is also advised to have a follow up visit to make sure everything is feeling all right and to make any final tune-ups. The first massage may not take care of all that is going on. Allow yourself time to heal! Your body will move at its own pace, but that is fine. Do not be discouraged by this. In most cases it took your body longer that an hour to get to where it is now and will take longer than an hour to get it back to where it needs to be.
The main thing to remember is that you care enough about yourself and are doing something about your discomfort.
Who should receive massage?
Almost everyone can benefit from massage therapy. Either as an occasional treat, or a regular maintenance, massage helps you feel younger, longer.
Massage frees up the joints, increasing body motion and affording flexibility. Pain is relieved, stress is minimized, the immune system gets a jumpstart, and vitality is returned.
Devotees of massage include athletes, manual as well as office workers, the elderly, pregnant mothers, those recovering from accident or surgery and those in poor health. The body needs massage therapy just as it needs vitamins and exercise.
Can massage help sports performance?
Professional and amateur athletes alike find massage stretches tight muscles and improves motion like nothing else. Restoring full motion and relieving tightness helps athletes stay limber and balanced for optimal sports performance.
Also, new and recurring injuries are prevented when muscles stay flexible and motion is balanced.
Is massage dangerous?
Massage therapy is one of the safest therapies available to choose from today.
It has been in existence for many hundreds of years and has been practiced everywhere from homes, medical clinics, and workplaces, to sporting venues. But can it cause injuries?
The risk of injury with massage therapy is of course higher if you have a pre-existing medical condition and you don’t inform the therapist, or a condition that is undetectable such as a thrombosis (blood clot). For this reason it is important to tell the therapist all of your symptoms and everything you can about your medical history (even if you think that it’s not important – think again, it probably is), and notify them immediately if you don’t feel right during the session or after.
In summary, it is extremely rare to have a bad reaction to massage unless there is a pre-existing condition.
What about massage as an anti-aging lifehabit?
With age, the joints stiffen, and muscles get tight. The common bent over posture of old age occurs as a result of the body adapting to long term poor posture. As posture becomes more bent forward the muscles have to work harder to keep the body balanced, which makes the muscles progressively tighter.
Massage stretches tight muscles, breaks up adhesions, and works out chronic muscular “knots” (or trigger points) so you feel young and move well.
I recently injured myself, can I have a massage straight away?
The R.I.C.E tips support the healing process of muscle injuries. All injuries should be seen by a medical practitioner, so if you are not 100% sure that it is only a minor muscle injury, you must consult one as soon as possible.
Rest: when you injure a muscle, you should rest it immediately from movement or load bearing. This will enable it to heal and allow fibres to begin to knit back together. If you do not rest, the torn fibres will continue to tear and cause more bleeding. Rest to avoid further damage.
Ice: apply ice within 24 – 72 hours for a maximum of 30 minutes, this can be repeated often. This will slow down blood circulation therefore reducing the amount of bleeding and in turn, swelling. Do not apply ice for too long (the skin should look pale when ice is removed, if it is red, it has been over-iced). Always use a wet cloth to protect the skin from direct contact with the ice.
Compression: this will restrict the bleeding. A firm pad can be placed on the area of the injury and be held in place with strapping (be careful to concentrate the pressure only on the injured part of the limb, and do not compress too tightly).
Elevation: when the injury is of the arm or leg, elevating the limb above the level of the torso for as long as possible can do wonders for the healing process.
Massage is most effective after 2 -3 days of the injury, once the bleeding and swelling have reduced. N.B. If these procedures do not reduce painful symptoms in 48 hours, seek medical advice.
Contraindications: When to avoid a Massage.
Although generally very helpful, there are certain times and under certain conditions where massage is not recommended, or contraindicated. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of times and conditions under which I do not recommend for you to receive a massage:
- Severe verecosities
- Severe, uncontrolled hypertension
- Severe Heart Condition
- Infectious viral, fungal, or bacterial conditions
- Athlete’s Foot
- Abrasions, Cuts, Hematomas
- CANCER, please consult with your physician
- Recent surgery
- Infectious Diseases
- Diabetes with vascular dysfunction
That’s why it’s imperative that, before you begin your session, I will ask general health questions. It is very important that you inform me of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor’s care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to any session. I may require a recommendation or approval from your doctor.