5 benefits of massage therapy that you may not know

Massage therapy can help everything from chronic pain to poor posture, yet many people remain in the dark about the benefits of massage therapy and how it can improve their overall quality of life.

While many people assume registered massage therapists (RMTS) work solely on massaging muscles, this is a common misconception. RMTs are trained in human anatomy and physiology and have a good understanding of the different structures and systems within the human body and how they work together. Remember, getting a massage from an RMT should not be confused with going to the spa.

Here are 5 benefits of massage therapy that you may not have known:

1. RMTs work with the nervous system to relieve muscle pain

While RMTs do work on muscles, this is only a small part of their work. They also treat connective tissues and the body’s lymphatic network, and work with the nervous system to help relieve muscles that are tight and sore because of an over-stimulated nervous pathway between the brain and the muscle fibres.

This relief comes by exploiting two microscopic sensory organs (muscle spindle fibres and Golgi tendon organs) located in different parts of the muscle and the associated nervous reflexes.

2. Massage therapy can treat postural dysfunction and counteract chronic sitting

For most of us, working consists of sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day. The problem with this is that we lose focus on our posture and our shoulders tend to slump forward. This can lead to a weak and unsupportive core and pain and discomfort in the upper back.

While a back massage does feel great, the key to successful correction of pain brought on by poor posture is to focus on the deeper parts of the treatment such as releasing the tighter anterior chest muscles through registered message therapy.

3. Massage therapy is effective in rehabilitating a wide range of injuries

While the most injuries seen by massage therapists are standard muscle strains due to overuse or acute trauma, there are many more injures that an RMT can help rehabilitate. These include, but are not limited to, whiplash associated disorders caused by motor vehicle accidents and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

4. Massage therapy can help significantly reduce or eliminate chronic headaches

When dealing with migraines, tension or cluster headaches, massage therapy isn’t often the first method of treatment considered by most people for relief — although it should be. RMTs are extremely skilled at alleviating these issues in just a few sessions.

Much of the time, there is an unapparent amount of tension being held at the base of the skull and downward compression along the cervical spine. Over time, the soft-tissue structures here become irritated and compress neurovascular bundles that supply the brain, resulting in chronic headaches. A treatment consisting of deep suboccipital and cervical release, gentle traction to decompress the vertebral column and a good stretch of the neck’s muscles are the keys to reducing and, most of the time, eliminating irritation.

5. Massage therapy is just as beneficial for mental health as it is physical health

In addition to aiding the healing process of the physical structures in the body, massage therapy will almost always have a positive effect on mental health. This is achieved by reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous pathways while increasing the firing of parasympathic nervous activity. This effect alone has a substantial cascading influence over hormones, blood pressure and heart rate, thus attributing relief to chronic stress, anxiety and even depression.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • How often should you get a massage?
    This will vary from person to person. Once you come in for your first appointment, you can discuss this in detail with your registered massage therapist.
  • What are the benefits of massage?
    Massage therapy has a number of benefits including reduced stress, muscle relaxation, improved circulation, improved posture, tension relief, improved sleep, chronic pain management, headache relief and more.
  • Is deep tissue massage good for you?
    Deep tissue massages can be beneficial for various reasons. This style of massage relieves stiffness, treats muscle pain and sports injuries and improves posture. Moreover, deep tissue massages have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.
  • What does a full body massage do to your body?
    A full body massage will relieve tension and stiffness in your body.
  • Should I shave before a massage?
    There is no need to shave before a massage.
  • Why should you drink water after a massage?
    You may feel dehydrated after a massage due to the long period of time without consuming any water during your massage. If this is the case, be sure to drink water after your massage. However, it is a myth that you need to drink water after a massage to flush out toxins that have just been released by the massage.
  • How often should I get deep tissue massage?
    Deep tissue massages aid in muscle recovery and rehabbing injuries. Depending on the reason you are visiting your massage therapist, the frequency of your appointments will vary.
  • What should you not do before a massage?
    Avoid eating right before a massage. If you eat right before, you may be uncomfortable during the massage.
  • How do I get the most out of my massage?
    In order to get the most out of your massage you should communicate with your massage therapist and let them know any tight areas you have as well as other sensitive areas. Furthermore, try and be as relaxed as possible during your massage to allow the tension in your muscles to be relieved.

 Book a massage therapy appointment today

A representative will contact you within one business day.

*Massage therapy services are only available at the Copeman Healthcare Centre in Calgary and Edmonton.