Massage - Is it really Therapy?

Benefits of massage have been proven, but can it also be a preventative measure in both psychological and physical conditions?

Increasing numbers of people are seeing their GP's regarding stress, anxiety and depression. A number of these people are being prescribed medication to control these unwanted symptoms. Medications play a huge part in helping people through crisis and can provide a welcome relief. But what if there was a way to assist the prevention of the crisis point leading up to the GP visit?

A Mayo Clinic report claims that a 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent, and serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.

Another study published in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety found participants who received regular massage therapy for 12 weeks had a 50 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms lasting up to six months. Further studies point to improvement of depression (including sex abuse and eating disorder studies), pain syndrome studies, research on auto-immune conditions (including asthma and chronic fatigue), immune studies (including HIV and breast cancer), and studies on the reduction of stress on the job, the stress of aging, and pregnancy stress through regular massage. (You can read the full article here)

In addition to psychological benefits, Massage is also used for many different ailments. There are different types of techniques used for different purposes.

Relaxation or Swedish massage is great for stress and pain relief, injury recovery and prevention.

There is deep tissue massage which although may suggest is going to be hard and deep with a therapist using their thumbs and elbows, it is in fact a relaxing massage where the therapist will work on your outer connective tissue in the first instance, to then work deeper layers of muscle and tissue. This gentle massage is ideal for relieving chronic pain and tension in the body.

Sports massage techniques are specific to the athlete’s needs. Before an event, sports massage loosens and prepares muscle for the strain of performance and helps reduce injury. After an event a Sports massage can helps the athlete recover faster.

Before receiving a massage, your therapist should give you a form to fill out, detailing any health conditions you have. They may also carry out a physical assessment to identify your range of movement, and any painful areas you have. The form and the assessment will then guide your therapist in choosing the right kind of therapy and technique for you.

Understanding how the body works is very important before any kind of therapeutic treatment is administered.

A therapist should know the kind of pressure and technique of massage your body requires, how much pressure to exert, and which nerves should or should not be pressed.

Whilst studies show that massage can be of great benefit for many different ailments, its also hard to prove this with evidence-based research due to the issue of creating a placebo group. Therefore, your therapist should also understand the science. They should inform you that massage is good for the mood, and in conjunction with a balanced diet, exercise, stretching, strength training, and professional medical advice, it can have a massive impact in your road to recovery.

Capri Clark is the founder of Bayside Remedial Massage and Healing in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and a Diploma in Remedial Massage. Capri's gentle techniques bring a huge amount of care and skill to her treatments. If you would like to book in for a session with Capri, you can click here.