What Can Massage Do For Me?
Traditional Swedish Massage
While there are many distinctly different massages professionally trained massage therapists can offer their clients, Swedish massage is unquestionably one of the most recognized and popular massages techniques offered.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s study on massages found that people who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced some remarkable and quantifiable health benefits, including:
a significant decrease in the stress hormone cortisol,
a boost in the number of lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that are necessary to protect the immune system
an increase in the oxygen levels in the blood
an improvement in overall circulation
a release of chronic muscle tension
an increase in joint flexibility
What to Expect During Your Swedish Massage
During a Swedish massage, your therapist will first apply massage oil or lotion to your body and then employ long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. These purposeful movements help to warm your muscle tissue, release tension, and release those tight “knots” you may have been experiencing in your neck, shoulders, or back. In addition, Swedish massage may also incorporate the use of other techniques: circular pressure that is applied by his/her hands and palms, a firm kneading of the muscles, a percussion-like tapping, and even stretching of the joints and muscles.
Deep Tissue + Myofascial Release
Deep tissue massage is a form of massage therapy that is used to realign the deeper layers of the muscles and connective tissues—addressing and resolving the underlying problems that can lead to chronic pain and stiffness. It differs from regular massage treatments in that it addresses deeper, more rooted issues in the muscles and ligaments, and allows treatments to be more vigorous, successful and long-lasting.
Myofascial release massage works the web-like protective band that covers your body’s muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments and tissues. This protective band is made of elastin and collagen fibers. The band or fascia is dynamic, meaning that it responds to forces, either internal or external and resists these forces to protect the area that it covers. When you sustain an injury or experience acute or chronic inflammation in an area, you can develop scar tissue on the fascia. When this occurs, it loses its dynamic nature and becomes hardened. In this form, it can restrict natural movement, create biomechanical imbalances, and cause pain.
At Athena Bodywork, we incorporate Myofascial Release techniques into our Deep Tissue massage sessions. This advanced technique focuses on breaking up the hardened fascia to restore a healthy level of flexibility and range of motion. The massage therapist uses their hands to stretch and break down the fascia to regain precious flexibility. The process takes time, and a specific area can be focused on for over five or more minutes. Several sessions are usually required to achieve lasting improvements.
The primary benefit of myofascial release is the lessening of pain during movements. Over time, flexibility and range of motion can be increased using this technique. Treatment sessions will include an initial visual assessment of the client’s posture and movement as well.
If you’re starting to feel old injuries flaring up again, consider myofascial release to combat the pain and regain your natural mobility.
Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage
When a person experiences ongoing stiffness, tension, or sustained injury to their muscles, tendons and ligaments, these form a band of rigid inflexible tissues called adhesions (known colloquially as “knots”). While most adhesions are relatively minor, extreme cases can block circulation, limit movement and flexibility, and be extremely painful. Often, the only way to address these adhesions is through deep tissue massage treatments.
Adhesions, tension and stiffness can be related to a range of chronic conditions, and patients have found this type of massage effective in addressing:
Chronic pain, spasm or stiffness
Constricted blood flow
Muscle, tendon and ligament injuries
High levels of stress
Other conditions such as Fibromyalgia
Each of these conditions is improved by releasing adhesions and tension, increasing blood flow, and promoting further movement in the area. While deep tissue massage is helpful for a variety of conditions, it should be avoided in cases where the patient:
Has inflamed skin or a rash
Has bruising of any kind
Has suffered a recent fracture or hernia
May be pregnant
How to Prepare for Deep Tissue Treatment
If it is your first time receiving a deep tissue treatment, there are a few things you may want to do before your appointment. First, ensure that you’re well hydrated and have eaten a meal (nothing too heavy). Consider stretching before to ensure you get the most out of your treatment — this promotes blood flow and flexibility. If it is your first time visiting a massage therapist, relate all the issues you may be facing—after all, stiffness and chronic pain may be related to other injuries, poor posture, etc. The more your massage therapist knows, the more he/she can assist you during the session.
When receiving a deep tissue massage, you’ll be asked to lie down and breathe deeply, relax and prepare for the massage. Deep tissue treatments differ in that the movements tend to be longer, deeper, more intense and focused. Massage therapists may use their elbows, forearms, fingertips and muscles to access the deeper layers of your muscle tissues.
Since your therapist will be massaging the innermost layers of your connective tissues and muscles, there are parts of the treatment that may be uncomfortable or almost painful. It is important that you communicate this to your therapist at all times, however some level of discomfort is normal as the deeper knots, adhesions and injuries are being addressed.
Depending on the treatment length you schedule, the massage may tend to focus only on problem areas, or be blended into a full-body session. As a result, make sure you are engaged and communicative with your massage therapist throughout your session to ensure you get the full benefit of the visit.
What to Expect After a Deep Tissue Massage
After receiving a deep tissue massage, there may be some soreness or stiffness to your muscles that generally doesn’t last more than a day. Ensure that you drink plenty of water and to avoid strenuous exercise the day after your massage in order to help your muscles heal. Your massage therapist may recommend that you ice certain areas of your body, or that you take a hot bath—depending on what you’re being treated for.
Depending on the severity of the issue you’re trying to address, you may find that you feel a whole lot better after your first visit—with increased flexibility and blood flow. Still, if you are attempting to resolve a chronic condition, injury, or a condition such as extreme muscular adhesions, you may have to have a few treatments before you begin to feel well. Make sure you discuss how you feel and follow your therapist’s recommendations before and after every visit!
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage therapy not only feels amazingly relaxing, it can also provide a host of other benefits associated with massage. The use of hot stones allows you to achieve a deeper level of relaxation as the stones serve as a grounding force that makes it difficult to stay stressed very long. Hot stone massage has a calming effect that relieves pain, reduces stress and promotes deep relaxation.
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
With hot stone massage, tension melts away as a result of heat, allowing your massage therapist to access deeper layers of muscle. This results in a relaxation of muscle tension that accompanies a host of other benefits including:
Chronic pain relief
Fewer muscle spasms
Improved joint flexibility
What to Expect During Your Hot Stone Massage
When you receive a massage involving hot stone massage protocols, your therapist will place smooth, water-heated stones at key points along your body. He or she will combine this practice with other massage methods in order to deliver the best experience and provide the most healing.
With regular hot stone massage sessions, you will begin to notice less pain and an improved ability for your body to handle stress.