Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! In my last blog, we talked about reasons why you should visit a chiropractor. Today, we’ll be talking about massage therapy and its benefits. Many people suffer from issues such as back or neck pain or soreness. Instead of taking an over-the-counter pain killer and calling it a day, massage therapy may be the answer. Here at Lowcountry Chiropractic, we offer both Swedish and Therapeutic massage for stress relief and relaxation. Believe it or not, massage therapy goes hand-in-hand with chiropractic care– You can experience a more effective chiropractic adjustment when your muscles are relaxed! In this blog, we’ll be talking about different types of massage and their benefits. So, if you are interested in learning more, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.
The word massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, or manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It has been proven to have a wide range of benefits, such as:
In addition, massage therapy can also be beneficial for those who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, nerve pain, sports injuries, joint pain, and even insomnia. 43% of Americans seek out massage therapy for pain management and overall wellness, and 88% of consumers agree that massage is effective in relieving pain. Research has shown that massage therapy is effective for low back pain, reducing headache frequency, lowering blood pressure, and boosting the body’s immune system functioning.
Massage therapy is performed by a trained, certified medical professional known as a massage therapist. It is performed by manipulating the soft tissues of your body, including muscle, connective tissues, ligaments, and skin. This manipulation is done with varying degrees of pressure, movement, and techniques. One goal of massage therapy is to slow down your nervous system, helping you to relax and release stress and tension. By doing this, you can find relief from symptoms, heal injuries, and support your overall wellness. When massage therapy is used in conjunction with chiropractic care, the two complement each other to bring a multitude of benefits. As mentioned above, massage therapy can help your body respond faster and more effectively to chiropractic adjustments. This, in turn, can allow your body to function at its optimal best.
There are a variety of types of massages, and each one serves a different purpose. Let’s take a look at a few.
Swedish massage is one of the most common massage types. It is sometimes referred to as a “classic” massage. It is gentle and best suited for those who are looking for tension relief and relaxation. This massage loosens up tight muscles, so it can be helpful for people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or computer, or who hold a lot of tension in their lower back, neck, or shoulders. During a Swedish massage, some techniques used are kneading, deep circular movements, long strokes, and passive joint movements. This is meant to not only relax the body but also increase blood flow and stimulate nerve endings. Swedish massage is also great for those who have never had a massage before, as it is very gentle.
Deep Tissue Massage
Sometimes referred to as therapeutic massage, a deep tissue massage targets specific muscle groups or problem areas that are causing pain or restricting a person’s range of motion. This type of massage is great for athletes and people with injuries, and can also be beneficial for those who suffer from conditions such as fibromyalgia. A deep tissue massage uses some of the same techniques as Swedish massage, but applies more pressure, as it targets the inner layers of the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue. Although this massage applies more pressure and may be more intense, you should not feel any pain or discomfort.
As the name suggests, a sports massage is great for athletes, especially if they have an injury to a muscle due to repetitive use. It is also a great option if you are prone to injuries in general. A sports massage can help increase flexibility, relieve pain, improve athletic performance, and release muscle tension. It can be performed as a full-body massage or on specific parts of the body that need attention. It is often performed with deep pressure and alternating strokes, including strokes that are applied in circular or linear motions.
Trigger Point Massage
A trigger point is an area of tightness within muscle tissue that is often caused by repetitive activity. Essentially, the muscle has tensed up and refuses to let go. It is commonly associated with people who spend their days hunched over at a computer. These tense muscles can cause pain and discomfort, as well as stiffness. A trigger point massage is great for those who have chronic pain, injuries, or a specific condition. The massage focuses on the areas of trigger points by using alternating levels of pressure to alleviate tension. This type of massage can also be performed at home by using your fingers to press firmly into the “knots” or sore spots you find.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), a lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage that helps lymph fluids to circulate throughout the body. The lymphatic system consists of lymph, lymph nodes and vessels, and lymphoid tissues. Together, this system helps eliminate the body’s waste and protects the body from toxins and invaders that can cause illness. It is part of your immune system, and utilizes the natural movements of muscle and tissue to do its job. However, some medical conditions or damage can interfere with this system and cause fluid to build up. Improved circulation of the lymphatic system can help with conditions such as fibromyalgia, fatigue, stress, digestive problems, arthritis, and migraines. It is possible to perform this massage at home by using light pressure.
As you can see, massage therapy is an effective treatment with a long list of benefits, and it is especially great in conjunction with chiropractic care! When your muscles are relaxed and your body is free of interference, your body can utilize its natural ability to heal itself. If you have any further questions about massage therapy or chiropractic care, feel free to reach out to us. I hope you found this article informative. If you or a loved one are suffering from any type of joint or back pain, you may benefit from chiropractic care. Consider reaching out to Lowcountry Chiropractic! We specialize in different chiropractic techniques, as well as both therapeutic and Swedish massage. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll assess the situation and develop a treatment plan to address your needs. We want to help you live a healthy and pain-free life– it’s what you deserve. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! The past few weeks have brought freezing rain and consistent cold fronts to the Lowcountry. Winter can affect our bodies in a myriad of ways. Spending more time indoors and exercising less can contribute to stiff muscles and achiness, both of which make performing our daily activities a downright chore. The reason cold weather affects our bodies in this manner is due to a phenomenon known as heat transference. When surrounded by cold air, our muscles lose heat and contract, resulting in tension. As our muscles tighten, our joints become limited in their range of motion and our nerves can become pinched. Overall, this is a recipe for aches and pains. You should be practicing a much longer warm-up routine before exercising to reduce your likelihood of injury. (A good rule-of-thumb is to warm up for at least ten minutes. For every ten degrees the temperature drops below 35°F, you should add another five minutes to your warm-up.) You should also be investing in regular massages. While massages may seem like an extraordinary luxury, they should be viewed as a fundamental wellness tool, alongside diet and exercise. In today’s article, I’d like to discuss the benefits of massage therapy, as well as how different kinds of massage techniques target specific ailments.
Massage therapy and chiropractic care go hand-in-hand. Spinal manipulation–or any manual adjustment–relies upon the soft tissues of the body, chiefly the muscles. When our muscles are tight and unyielding, the efficacy of a chiropractic adjustment might be capped far below its full potential. Massage therapy is the antidote. Practiced in ancient India as far back as 3000 BC, massage therapy has always sought to promote relaxation and pain relief through the application of concerted pressure on the muscles. In ancient China, massage therapy was one of three medicinal practices (i.e. acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal remedies). The ancient Egyptians added in reflexology–applying pressure to specific points across the body–while the ancient Japanese developed a technique designed to rebalance energy levels–known as Shiatsu. Around the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, massage therapy was elevated to the peak of medicine and made a staple of daily life, in the same way diet and exercise are today. In short, massage therapy has always held a special place in pain management and the cultivation of personal wellness.
The long history of massage therapy is, in and of itself, a testament to the efficacy of massage therapy. However, these scientific studies serve to peel back the curtain of how massage therapy is so effective. According to a set of randomized, controlled trials on pain populations, a 2016 study revealed: “massage therapy, compared to no treatment, should be strongly recommended as a pain management option.” Further, the study indicated massage therapy had a beneficial impact on treating anxiety and health-related quality of life. A research review published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice journal, states “massage therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects on varying conditions including prenatal depression, preterm infants, full-term infants, autism, skin conditions, pain syndromes including arthritis and fibromyalgia, hypertension, autoimmune conditions including asthma and multiple sclerosis, immune conditions including HIV and breast cancer and aging problems including Parkinson's and dementia. Although many of the studies have involved comparisons between massage therapy and standard treatment control groups, several have compared different forms of massage (e.g. Swedish versus Thai massage), and different active therapies such as massage versus exercise. Typically, the massage therapy groups have experienced more positive effects than the control or comparison groups. This may relate to the massage therapy providing more stimulation of pressure receptors, in turn enhancing vagal activity and reducing Cortisol levels.”
Think about when you feel a slight twinge in your neck or an ache in your shoulder. What’s the first thing you do? You rub the area, don’t you? This rubbing–combined with the application of consistent pressure–causes blood to flow to the affected area. This blood is warm and full of oxygen. Remember how our muscles tighten when confronted with cold air? Well, they do the opposite when confronted with warmth. They relax. (There’s a reason we take warm baths when our muscles are sore.) As our muscles relax, they gain elasticity, allowing us greater freedom of movement. Massages focus on muscle groups that are tight, restricted, and full of fascia. Fascia is “a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place. The tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up.” Fascia is composed of a liquid called hyaluronan and this liquid can dry out, resulting in fascia which is thick and unyielding. When we develop “knots,” these are actually bits of fascia clinging to our muscles. Increased blood flow can soften this fascia, reduce myofascial pain, resolve adhesions and restore muscular elasticity.
Not all massages target fascia. Not all massages are for pain relief, either. For example, a hot stone massage might promote blood flow and ease muscle tension, but it's primarily used to relieve stress. Likewise, an aromatherapy massage focuses on the use of essential oils to cultivate a relaxing experience. Swedish massages and deep tissue massages are better suited for those living with chronic pain conditions or who have restricted mobility due to fascia lesions. They achieve results in two distinct ways.
The Swedish massage was introduced by a Swedish doctor named Per Henrik Ling. Ling was a professional gymnast, as well, and his method of relieving pain was adapted into the style we recognize today as the Swedish massage by Johan George Mezger. The Swedish massage is broken down into four key movements, each of which serves to elicit a specific response from the body. Effleurage consists of gliding the hands along the body, from the extremities inward, towards the heart. Petrissage includes the rhythmic kneading of tissue. Tapotement involves striking with the sides of the hands (as seen on many television shows). Finally, friction delves into the deep tissue and uses sustained pressure to target lesions. A Swedish massage can be used to relieve knots and to relax. It’s a perfect option for those who are new to massages or are sensitive to the touch.
Massages, though utilized for pain relief, can have the opposite effect when used without discretion. As blood flows to areas which have been deprived, you’re likely to feel these areas more keenly. An intense, hour-long deep tissue massage may not be right for someone who is beginning their massage journey. Either the experience will be painful or the aftermath will ward you off of going back and we don’t want that. It’s important to speak to your massage therapist beforehand, to give them a sense of your massage experiences in the past. If it’s your first time, ask them to start off light. When they apply pressure, if anything begins to hurt, ask them to be lighter. The benefits of massage therapy can take several sessions to manifest fully. It’s okay to take your time.
A deep tissue massage, as you might’ve guessed, targets the deepest layers of muscle and connective tissue possible. If you deal with chronic pain, flare-up from old injuries, or even anxiety, this type of massage may be able to help you along your healing journey. Your therapist will employ many of the same techniques used in a Swedish massage, but they will apply considerably more pressure. Be prepared to drink plenty of water afterward and to experience a bit of soreness (especially after your first time). Deep tissue massages can be used to stimulate lymphatic drainage, but only a specialized massage therapist should perform a deep tissue massage on those with lymphedema (as improper massage techniques could trigger swelling).
The wonderful thing about massages is their immediate efficacy. Many patients walk out of a massage feeling like a brand-new person! Increased mobility, improved blood flow, and pain relief will do that! At Lowcountry Chiropractic we offer both Swedish and deep tissue massages, performed by experienced massage therapists. There’s no reason to live with lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or headaches. Regular massage therapy is a proven method for helping the body to heal and self-regulate. Send us an email or give us a call to schedule your massage appointment today! When used in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy can hasten your journey to a pain-free life. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
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