Massage Therapy

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Massage therapy treatment has a therapeutic effect on the body and improves health and well-being by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. Massage can help alleviate the soft tissue discomfort associated with everyday stress, muscular overuse and many chronic pain syndromes. If employed early enough after accidents involving trauma and injury, massage therapy can greatly reduce the development of painful muscular patterning.

A wide range of techniques are used during massage. These techniques stretch and loosen connective tissues and muscles, affect movements that assist the action of the joints, and combine to increase function and range of motion thereby reducing muscle tension. Your treatment may involve a few of the following techniques:

  • Trigger point therapy
  • Hydrotherapy (the use of heat and cold)
  • Myofascial therapy (connective tissue work)
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Joint mobilizations
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Passive stretching
  • A massage therapist is a regulated health professional who has received two or three years of comprehensive training before completing written and clinical licensing examinations, and registering with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Through the College, all massage therapists participate in a quality assurance program that ensure high professional standards and quality client care.

    Massage on normal tissue is almost always a pleasant sensation. Massage in the area of an injury or chronic pain may at first cause some discomfort which usually lessens noticeably in the first few minutes. Massage therapists know ways to minimize pain, and will work carefully within what feels right for your treatment needs. Always tell your massage therapist if you feel any discomfort so they can make adjustments.

    There are some conditions for which massage is not appropriate. Always tell your massage therapist if you have any concerns regarding medical conditions, even a minor one.

    Benefits of Massage Therapy

    Massage can be used in the treatment of the acute and chronic stages of specific conditions. Treatment also enhances an individual's overall sense of emotional and physical well-being and quality of life.

    Massage therapy can help with a range of conditions, including:

    • Sports injuries
    • Strains/sprains
    • Muscle tension and spasm
    • Back/neck pain
    • Tingling in your arms or legs
    • Sciatica
    • Fractures and edema
    • Dislocations
    • Inflammatory conditions (arthritis, bursitis)
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Repetitive strain injuries
    • Tendonitis
    • Scoliosis
    • Asthma
    • Headaches
    • Insomnia
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Stress
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Whiplash
    • Post-surgical rehabilitation
    • Pregnancy
    • Palliative care

    Therapeutic massage is an important part of your health maintenance plan, by: reducing or eliminating pain, improving joint mobility, improving circulation, improving immune system functioning, reducing depression and anxiety, and reducing tension within muscles. Massage can relieve many types of muscle tightness, from a short-term muscle cramp to a habitually clenched jaw or tight shoulders. Some massage techniques release tension directly by stretching and kneading your muscles and their connective tissue coverings (called fascia). Other techniques work less directly, but quite powerfully, by stimulating your nervous system to allow your muscles to relax. Massage can also relieve secondary pain that outlasts its original cause. Some examples are headaches from eyestrain, low back ache during pregnancy, or the protective tensing of healthy muscles around an injury.

    Massage is also successful in helping your body cope with stress. Your body's natural response to stress is to prepare for an emergency. This causes your nervous system to release hormones such as adrenaline. With this response, most individuals will experience an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Muscles will also tense up, and digestive systems can slow down. Much of life's stress is ambiguous and ongoing, therefore your brain doesn't receive a signal that it's ok to rest and recuperate. Massage will help to trigger your nervous system to end this emergency response. Your body can then relax, and feel more rejuvenated.

    Massage therapy benefits people of all ages. While it benefits the injured, the ill and the stressed, the real strength of massage therapy lies in prevention.

    Your greatest benefit from massage could be learning ways to release tension or help heal injuries outside of your massage sessions. Massage therapist can show you gentle exercise to increase flexibility and teach your muscles more efficient movements.