There are alternative therapies for arthritis that are becoming more popular, and if you have arthritis you might want to turn to massage to address both your pain and the stiffness of your condition and your general well-being. Maybe you haven’t tried massage yet because you don’t know what to expect, your not sure that massage is a good idea for your joint pain and inflammation, or maybe you don’t know where to find a good massage therapist. This article will address these valid concerns and show you how massage can be an important part of your effective arthritis management.
So What is a massage? You will have a trained professional known as a massage therapist, who presses, rubs, strokes, kneads, and otherwise manipulates the muscles and soft tissues of your body. Massage is one of the oldest healing arts. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks are all known to have practiced it. Massage became accepted in the United States in the mid 1800’s only to disappear in the following century and not revive until the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Today, there are well over 100,000 massage therapists at work in the United States. They practice massage in many settings, from hospitals to health clubs to private studios. People go to them for many different reasons: to ease pain, to rehabilitate from injury, to reduce stress, to ease anxiety and depression, and to improve general well-being.
While there are more than 250 varieties of massage techniques, most practitioners use one or more of a few basic methods. Many use a form of Swedish massage, which employs long, flowing strokes meant to be calming and relaxing. As your body becomes relaxed, the massage therapist can also apply focused pressure to relieve areas of muscular tension. Other popular forms of massage include deep tissue massage, which features strong pressure on deeper layers of tissue, and myofascial release, in which long, stretching strokes releases the tension in the fascia (the connective tissue around the muscles). There are also the Asian techniques of acupressure and shiatsu, which use finger pressure on specific points on the body, and the technique called reflexology, which upholds that rubbing certain points on the feet, hands, or ears has a positive effect on various body parts.
What are the benefits of massage? If you have a chronic condition, massage can have numerous benefits. If done correctly, massage can provide a wonderful break from the stress of living with arthritis or another stressful condition. It can aid in relaxation, which by itself helps healing and reduces es stress. It can also reduce pain, improve joint movement, relax tense muscles, and stimulate blood flow. But, massage for those of you who have arthritis should be handled as a complementary therapy, that is, one that is used in combination with, and not to replace, other regular medical treatments such as pain medicine or physical therapy. Listed below you will find five ways that massage can benefit you, even if you don’t have arthritis. massagers for backs
One is relaxation. The best and probably the biggest benefit is relaxation, that’s number one. Massage should bring a sense of well-being to the body. Mary Kathleen Rose is a certified massage therapist in Colorado and after 25 years of experience, and much of that working with those with chronic conditions, she has developed a style of massage she calls Comfort Touch that is characterized by slow, broad, and surrounding pressure. It’s not known exactly why or how massage encourages relaxation. Some speculate that massage triggers the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, (which supports the body’s restorative processes), muscle tension is improved, the heart rate slows, and the fight-or-flight response is revered.
Your circulation changes. While the mechanism is not well understood, massage is also thought to encourage the flow of lymph in the body. (Lymph is a fluid that circulates throughout the body; the cells in lymph help fight infection and disease.) Massage can also increase the flow of blood. However, exercise actually has a greater effect on increasing circulation than massage does. And during a relaxing massage, local circulation may increase, but systemic circulation actually slows down, as evidenced by lowered blood pressure, lower body temperature, and slower breathing. This may explains why many people actually become cooler during massage.
You’ll get pain relief. There is some evidence that massage can actually relieve pain. Those who are getting massages certainly think it does. There was a study done by the American Massage Therapy Association that showed 93% of the people who tried a massage, felt it was effective for their pain relief and there are many theories out there for why a massage relieves pain. But, there are some researchers who speculate that massage encourages the release of pain-relieving hormones or that massage may block pain signals that are sent to the brain.
You’ll have improved joint movement. Through the use of direct pressure, massage can affect the muscles and connective tissues in the body, increasing mobility. This can help increase the range of motion in the joints and lesson stiffness in the muscles, tendons and ligaments for those who have arthritis.
There are also psychological benefits. The psychological benefits from massages are well documented. Massage can change your mood, alleviate any anxiety and depression you may have, and improve your feelings of well-being and safety and this is why so many people will turn to massage.