Sun | Jan 23, 2022


Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 4:54 PM

It's no secret that the mind controls the body, but we often underestimate the impact the body has on the mind. It is this influence that massaging capitalises on. We often think a massage is just to help us to relax, but many are unaware of the health benefits that it may confer on us.

Massaging generally involves pressing, rubbing and manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, usually with the hands and fingers. Some massage therapists also use their feet, elbows and forearms. It may involve from deep pressure to light strokes.

There are about 80 different styles of massage therapy. These include:

1. Swedish massage - this is a very popular type and involves soft long kneading strokes as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes on the topmost muscles.

2. Deep tissue massage - the methods uses slower and more forceful strokes that target the deep muscle and other tissues. It can be used to treat long-standing muscle tension.

3. Sports massage - this is similar to Swedish and is used to prevent and treat sporting injuries.

4. Neuromuscular massage - also called trigger point massage and uses soft tissue manipulation to treat chronic pain caused by nervous or muscular problems and is medically oriented.

Massage not only helps in relaxation, but has been shown by studies to be helpful for anxiety, headaches (tension and migraine), digestive disorders, stress-related insomnia, sporting injuries, fibromyalgia and soft tissue injuries (eg sprains). It has also been found to give relief to back pain that is comparable to acupuncture and chiropractic therapy. Those suffering from osteoarthritis may experience relief from pain and stiffness and improved function from weekly massage therapy. It may even be used as an adjunct to traditional cancer treatment as it may help relieve side effects, cancer symptoms and improve relaxation. Pain, swelling, fatigue and depression may also be improved during cancer treatment as well, and it may even improve the immune response.

Massage therapy may cause some soreness the following day and may cause intolerable pain if too much pressure is applied. It may not be appropriate when there is a bleeding disorder, deep vein thrombosis, fracture, burn, open wound or severe osteoporosis (very weak bones). Extra care must also be exercised where there is cancer, pregnancy or unusual pain.

It is important to ensure that the massage therapist is qualified to do the massage being contemplated.