Massage therapy is a comprehensive intervention involving a range of techniques to manipulate the soft tissues and joints of the body. The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain (Massage Therapy Act, 1991). It is a clinically-oriented health option that achieves undeniable results in the relief of an array of discomforts stemming from stress, muscular overuse and many chronic pain syndromes.
The therapeutic process is a partnership between client and therapist, working together towards common and realistic goals.
The Benefits of Massage Therapy
There are tremendous benefits to be achieved through regular massage therapy treatments from a Registered Massage Therapist. Whether your need is to have a moment of relaxation, reduce muscle tension or attain relief from chronic pain, a therapeutic massage can enhance your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being as well as your quality of life. Massage therapy can be used in the treatment of both acute and chronic stages of conditions.
Pregnancy and Labour Support
How massage will benefit you during your pregnancy, labour and birthing Studies support what more and more women are discovering about massage therapy during pregnancy – it has been shown to: improve maternal mooddecrease depression and anxietydecrease paindecrease stress hormones in pregnant women (including those suffering from depression)decrease obstetrical complications, andimprove neonatal health and development. In addition, the overall benefit of improved mood to maternal and neonatal health has the potential to positively impact the health of individual mothers and children.
There is also evidence that massage therapy through the labour and birthing process helps to: decrease pain in all three stages of labour (latent, active, and transition),reduce anxiety in the latent stage,reduce stress during labour, and increase the quality of your experience of childbirth.
These immediate effects of massage therapy may affect other longer-term effects such as decreased length of labour, shorter hospital stay, less touch sensitivity and fewer instances of postpartum depression.
Your newborn baby benefits too Studies conclude that preterm (premature) infants receiving massage gain more weight and leave the hospital sooner. Massage therapy may also improve sleep patterns and behaviour in infants.
Types of Massage
Swedish Massage (Relaxation)
Swedish Massage techniques are the basis of most forms of Massage Therapy. All Registered Massage Therapists begin their training with Swedish Massage. Specific techniques consist of: effleurage (sliding/gliding), petrissage (kneading),tapotement (rhythmic tapping), frictions across muscle fibres and vibration/shaking. These techniques are performed in specific order and pressure as pertaining to the condition being treated.
For example, Swedish Massage is typically helpful in reducing joint pain and stiffness associated with Osteoarthritis.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a technique used to assist in the removal and/or movement of excess fluid build-up throughout the lymphatic system and surrounding tissue. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels throughout the body responsible for the processing and removal of cellular and toxic waste. When injuries occur, the lymph nodes may become swollen (retaining excess fluid -- edema), and may require gentle stimulation to assist in more efficient removal of the fluid.
For example, Manual Lymphatic Drainage is helpful for edema associated with sprains, strains and even fractures; and especially during pregnancy.
The Myofascia is a vast expanse of connective tissue covering every muscle in the human body. It is responsible for bundling together our muscle fibres, nerves and circulatory vessels – it keeps you shaped like a human! Located between the skin and muscle surface, this very thin, but exceptionally strong, layer of connective tissue and can be accessed by friction between the Client’s skin and the Therapist’s hands. Pressure is applied horizontally across the skin instead of downward into the muscle belly. This effectively relieves tension that can build in the myofascial resulting from injury, poor posture, or prolonged positioning.
For example, Myofascial Release Technique can be used to improve the range of motion through a joint and/or decrease pain associated with some kinds of headaches.
Pregnancy and Perinatal Massage
Massage during pregnancy and post-delivery can be very beneficial in alleviating many symptoms associated with carrying and delivering a child.
- Treatment of back, neck, shoulder and hip pain associated with pregnancy hormones and ligament stretching (i.e. cramping, sciatica, headaches, etc.)
- Relief from fluid retention associated with mid- to later-stage pregnancy.
- Improved circulation can decrease fatigue and leg cramps.
- Treatment of pregnancy-associated conditions or injuries (i.e. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Migraine Headaches, etc.)
- Temporary relief from mood swings, anxiety, stress, post-partum symptoms.
- Supporting early or late pregnancy loss, and associated stress, grief.
Kinesiology Taping is a low-impact method of tissue manipulation designed to sustain positioning over a minimum 3-5 day period. It uses an elasticized cotton tape with hypoallergenic adhesive and is applied to the skin by a Certified Professional to help relieve many forms of posture and tissue dysfunction (i.e. support/activate weak or injured muscles, correcting poor posture, decreasing inflammation, etc.) Kinesiology Tape can be used for a wide variety of Clients as there are very few contraindications.
For example: The 8 month pregnant Client experiencing significant lower back pain as a result of her growing child may find relief in Kinesiology Tape applied to lift and support the weight of the belly, thereby taking pressure off the muscles of the low back.
Use of essential oils in Massage Therapy can help to augment some of its benefits, such as increase circulation, invigorate or relax the senses, or even produce anti-inflammatory effects. Essential oils are applied to the skin during regular Massage Therapy treatments and are absorbed through the Client’s skin as the Therapist treats the area. With all Massage Therapy treatments, but especially concerning essential oils, it is important to disclose any and all allergies or sensitivities prior to treatment in order to avoid respiratory or skin irritation.
For example: Frankincence has been shown to aid in relaxation as well as promote a calming effect to both the Client’s mood as well as tissue inflammation.