Massage therapy, as the name suggests, is the use of specific massage techniques to manipulate muscles for a variety of outcomes and benefits. And don’t let the name fool you. There’s more to massage than simply rubbing muscles. Massage therapy utilizes several massage movements and techniques that are performed in a specific sequence in order to get the most out of massage therapy.
Massage begins with techniques that first help to loosen and open up the bigger muscles by focusing on a wider surface area. This is done because just like with exercise, you want to make sure you warm the general muscles before working any specific muscles.
When working any muscles, a technique called palmar kneading is used to first work the superficial muscles before applying more pressure to reach the deeper ones.
Using these step by step techniques allows the muscles to “warm up” (loosen and un-knot) effectively while being safe and preventing damage to the muscles.
How Massage Therapy Can Improve Health
Massage therapy has many benefits and can be used to improve health in a wide variety of ways:
- Alleviates pain and improves posture
- Stretching of muscle fibers improves flexibility, range of motion, and ultimately improves athletic performance
- Stimulates the lymphatic system and boosts immune function
- Stimulates blood flow and improves circulation
- More oxygen and nutrients are supplied to the muscles
- Helps to mentally destress and relax, which switches on the body’s rest and digest state for improved wellbeing
How to Find a Qualified Massage Therapist
There are different types of healthcare professionals that are qualified to provide massage therapy. The two main types are registered massage therapists and naturopathic doctors.
While naturopathic doctors are trained in a wide variety of modalities, registered massage therapists are trained solely on massage techniques. The difference in training raises important points to consider. Because registered massage therapists have massage therapy as the sole focus, they receive more training and may have fine tuned massage skills and techniques. They may be well versed in advanced massage techniques and be able to more effectively pinpoint issues and how to best resolve them using massage.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean naturopathic doctors aren’t qualified to provide the same massage benefits. Instead, it may be helpful to look into the background and additional training of a naturopathic doctor. Some naturopathic doctors are also registered massage therapists or have participated in additional massage therapy training.
Depending on the reason for massage therapy and the skill needed, taking the extent of training into account will help ensure you find the right massage therapist for you. If you live in a small town, chances are there are a couple of massage therapists that are well known already. If you live in a city or a more populated town, checking your surrounding area (either by foot or online) for options and using keywords in an online search will help narrow down options. Then, using the extent of training and other factors you find important will help further narrow down the list until you find a great fit for you!
As always, you can book a free consultation – that way you have nothing to lose, in fact you may gain some insightful knowledge!
Cautions When Using Massage Therapy
Although there are many health benefits to Massage Therapy, there are certain conditions or situations in which massage may be harmful and should not be used. Before getting a massage, you will most likely be asked to fill out a questionnaire indicating whether you have any conditions your massage therapist should be aware of. It’s important to be honest with your answers so your massage therapist can ensure it is safe to practice on you.
Are you ready to rest, relax and ease your sore muscles? A Personal Health Plan from Saskatchewan Blue Cross offers coverage for Health Practitioners including Massage Therapists. Give yourself the gift of wellness this holiday season and learn more today!