Massage used in the medical field includes decongestive therapy used for lymphedema which can be used in conjunction with the treatment of breast cancer. Light massage is also used in pain management and palliative care. Carotid sinus massage is used to diagnose carotid sinus syncope and is sometimes useful for differentiating supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) from ventricular tachycardia. It, like the valsalva maneuver, is a therapy for SVT. However, it is less effective than management of SVT with medications.
With possible benefits such as improved fitness endurance and performance, increased flexibility and recovery time, and injury prevention, sports massage is way more than just a massage for athletes! Traditionally, sports massage is a deep tissue massage that targets the deepest layers of muscle in order to stimulate blood flow. It is best done before or after the event as a means to later restore or rehabilitate. For more, see our Comprehensive Guide to Massage.
The first thing to bear in mind is that deep tissue massage is used for therapy and rehabilitation, not relaxation. So you need to be prepared to feel some discomfort during a deep tissue massage and even after. You will most probably lie on your stomach or back while the massage therapist applies various degrees of pressure on tight muscles that have issues and are lying dormant in your body.
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Similar to Thai massage, in a Swedish massage the client’s joints and muscles are compressed and stretched. This can cause an immediate release of energy that might cause the skin to flush. Clients might also experience a few temporary aches as the body readjusts itself, depending on their level of flexibility and any current physical ailments. For example, a person who arrives at a practitioner’s office with an ultra-tight muscle that has been traumatized may experience some pain while the trauma is massaged out and worked through. In massage, areas of stress and pain can act as blockages to the body’s circulation, energy flow, and overall well-being.
The pressure used during a Swedish massage therapy help to relax the muscles and relieve all of the tension that has built up. The touch of the skin also helps to relax the person and to clear their mind of anything that might be bothering them. Therapists suggest a Swedish massage to anyone who is feeling run down or suffering from mild depression.
Deep tissue massage involves manipulation of the deep layers of tissue in the body, including the fascia and other supportive tissue that make up the muscles and joints. Compared to other popular massage techniques — including Swedish massage or acupressure, which tend to be lighter in pressure and can involve moving the body into certain positions — deep tissue massage is usually slower and firmer. (2)
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Reduced stress. Swedish massages are meant to maximize relaxation—you’ll be on a massage table, in a peaceful environment, with a professional spending an extended time (between 60 – 120 minutes) giving you a massage. The combination of the hands-on attention and the environment should relax you, lowering the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Lowering your stress level offers a surprising number of additional benefits, including reducing or eliminating tension headaches, giving you more energy, and allowing you to get a better night’s sleep.
Sports massage therapy can prevent or relieve delayed onset muscle soreness. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, delayed soreness typically begins to develop 12 to 24 hours after the exercise has been performed. DOMS may produce the greatest pain between 24 and 72 hours after the exercise has been performed. Sports massage therapy prevents delayed onset muscle soreness by encouraging blood and lymph flow throughout the body, preventing muscle fatigue.
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I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com
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Good pain. In massage, there is a curious phenomenon widely known as “good pain.” It arises from a sensory contradiction between the sensitivity to pressure and the “instinctive” sense that the pressure is also a source of relief. So pressure can be an intense sensation that just feels right somehow. It’s strong, but it’s welcome. Good pains are usually dull and aching, and are often described as a “sweet” aching. The best good pain may be such a relief that “pain” isn’t even really the right word.
Reflexology is basically a study of how one part of the human body relates to another part of the body. Reflexology practitioners rely on the reflexes map of the feet and hands to all the internal organs and other human body parts. They believe that by applying the appropriate pressure and massage certain spots on the feet and hands, all other body parts could be energized and rejuvenated. This review aimed to revisit the concept of reflexology and examine its effectiveness, practices, and the training for reflexology practitioners. PubMed, SCOPUS, Google Scholar, and SpringerLink databases were utilized to search the following medical subject headings or keywords: foot massage, reflexology, foot reflexotherapy, reflexological treatment, and zone therapy. The articles published for the last 10 years were included. Previous systematic reviews failed to show concrete evidence for any specific effect of reflexology in any conditions. Due to its non-invasive, non-pharmacological complementary nature, reflexology is widely accepted and anecdotal evidence of positive effect reflexology in a variety of health conditions are available. Adequate training for practitioners is necessary to ensure the consistency of service provided.
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The NCCIH adds that massage therapy may also be potentially harmful to women who are pregnant. Even though research has found that it offers this demographic some positive effects, such as decreased depression and anxiety and reduced leg and back pain, it is still important to obtain approval from her healthcare provider first to ensure that she can receive a safe sports massage.