Once thought of as a luxurious treat to be enjoyed only occasionally, today more people are turning to therapeutic massage, and are being referred to massage therapists by their healthcare providers to help them heal from injuries, illness and other chronic conditions.
According to a 2018 study by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 50 million adult Americans discussed massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers in the previous year. When discussed, 51% of chiropractors, 49% of physical therapists, and 46% of physicians highly recommended their patients add massage as an adjunct to their current treatment plans. In fact, 62% of American adults who received massage between July 2017 and July 2018 received it for medical or health related reasons.
Research into the benefits of therapeutic massage has shown it to be effective in the treatment of many health issues including: cancer related pain & fatigue, low-back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, post-operative pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and fibromyalgia. In addition, therapeutic massage can help boost the body’s immune system functioning, improve exercise performance and speed recovery, ease stress and anxiety, and promote better sleep.
Massage works because it creates beneficial physiological changes in the body’s nervous and mechanical systems promoting relaxation, reduction in mental and physical stress, and improvements in blood and lymph circulation throughout the body.
The relaxation response generated from a nurturing touch allows the body and mind to shift from “doing” to “being.” As the body and mind relaxes the heart rate slows down, blood pressure decreases allowing muscles to let go of deeply held tension. Physical manipulation of the soft tissues of the body including fascia, muscles and tendons allows these tissues to relax, thus allowing for better circulation and nerve conductivity throughout the body promoting health and wellbeing.
A therapeutic massage session can range from 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer depending on the clients needs. An initial session will include an intake, such that the massage therapist is fully aware of any medical conditions including medications that may affect treatment methods and a discussion around the client’s goals for massage and a treatment plan will be developed to support those goals. In some instances, massage therapists will collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop an overall treatment plan for a client.