Massage Therapy

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is believed to work because of the complex way your brain processes and responds to the sensation of touch. Different massage techniques gain your brain’s attention in different ways, eliciting different healing responses.

All massage sessions are completely customizable, from more or less pressure, to various techniques or the inclusion of stretching or heat – what your body needs to initiate healing will be unique to you and your session should reflect that.

Techniques practiced in this office are: Deep tissue, myofascial release, sports, swedish (relaxation), and trigger point therapy.

Photo demonstrating a massage therapist providing input into a client's tight and tender muscles for relaxation and therapeutic relief

The key to an effective massage is communication.

Adjustments in pressure, speed of the work, or questions about how the technique feels can help your therapist customize the session so you leave feeling your best.

Massage therapy is a subjective experience. Contrary to belief, massage is affecting the brain more than the muscle and connective tissue. Your brain is aware when someone is touching you, even when your sleeping. Your brain is consistently responding and adjusting to the contact during a massage. For physical touch to change our tissues — versus the brain — it would take over 400lbs/sq inch of pressure! That kind of pressure would cause injury. Massage doesn’t work because of the amount of pressure, it works by affecting your nervous system where the brain responds by relaxing the tissues.

However, the amount of pressure should be enough to feel good!

Every BODY is different. The person on the table before you enjoyed “light pressure”, while to you the same pressure feels very deep and painful. Your experiences are unique to you, making how your brain responds to touch equally as unique.

Pressure that hurts doesn’t help you get better, faster. Painful pressure encourages your body to react in protective mode, causing more tightness as a result.

But what about when it “hurts so good”?

There is a strong difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort is something that makes you go “ugh!” but isn’t unbearable. Pain is something that makes you say “ow!”, makes you want to run away, or even makes you hold your breath. Pain is not useful in the context of therapy! Light and relaxing massages engage your nervous system — causing a therapeutic benefit your health — often better than a “deep tissue” session.

All massage sessions are completely customizable. What your body needs to initiate healing will be unique to you. And your session should reflect this. Communicate. Always tell your therapist if something they’re doing is creating discomfort or isn’t yielding the result you hoped for.

A great therapist knows they can’t “fix” everything. As a a result, they will often refer and co-manage with other health care practitioners. Because the goal is to get you to your destination: your goals!

Types Of Massage

Deep Tissue Massage

While many massage techniques induce relaxation with soothing and gentle kneading, deep tissue massage involves more intense muscle manipulation. Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. Additionally, this type of massage reduces stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.

Unlike most traditional massage that promotes whole-­body relaxation, deep tissue massage is often used to target specific trouble spots after an accident or injury has left you stiff and sore, as in instances of whiplash or falls.

Sports Massage

Though originally designed to help athletes perform at optimum levels during games, sports massage is growing in popularity as an effective treatment for sports­-related injuries or limited range of motion. Sports massage focuses on a client’s trouble spots, like shoulder soreness after eighteen holes of golf, or a tender hamstring just before a big race. Sports massage therapists understand sport-­related injuries, and can help minimize pain, speed recovery and help clients perform their best at their favorite activities with full range of motion.

There are four variations of sports massage and choosing the right one is based on the client’s current level of discomfort and upcoming athletic events:

  • Pre­-event sports massage involves a vigorous and stimulating Swedish massage that targets the muscles that will be used during the upcoming event, boosting circulation and revving up energy levels with brisk massage techniques that invigorate.
  • Post­-event sports massage is designed to help the athlete wind down after intense physical exertion, targets muscle soreness and helps to normalize body tissues and prevent muscle stiffness the next day.
  • Restorative sports massage is provided during training to keep an athlete at peak performance level. Muscles are kept warm and supple, enabling more intense exertion during training time and minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Rehabilitative sports massage is aimed at treating sports injuries and speeding recovery time. Targeted at a specific trouble spot, rehabilitative sports massage helps increase circulation and protect range of motion.

For anyone participating in regular physical activity, sports massage therapy every week or two may be a great addition to your normal regimen.

Therapeutic Massage

Similar in some ways to regular massages, therapeutic massage has a broader focus on bringing your body to better health and improving how you feel on a daily level. Several forms of massage therapy target specific problems in your body. As an example, Shiatsu massage focuses on specific trigger points in your body that are causing pain or tension, and Swedish massage relies on gentle kneading and long strokes to relieve muscle tensions throughout your body. 

In this way, the overall focus of therapeutic massage is to improve your body’s health, not just relax you. 

Stiff? Stuck? Sore? Tired? All of the above? Schedule an appointment today and get back to moving and feeling like yourself again!