what is massage therapy

According to research done by the American College of Physicians, massage therapy is an effective alternative option for reducing pain. This is in comparison to relying on harsh pain medications that come with unwanted side effects.

There are over 80 different massage therapy styles, targeting different health conditions. Including chronic pain, nerve pain, reducing tension, lowering stress, increasing range of motion, promote relaxation, and much more.

Yet, the question is, what is massage therapy, exactly? Knowing the benefits is great, but, knowing how massage therapy works on a scientific level is better.

If you have been wondering “what is massage therapy?” You have come to the right place.

Keep on reading this handy guide to learn all about massage therapy. You will learn the benefits, how it works, and the different modalities of massage therapy.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage is essentially hand manipulation that promotes certain health responses in the body. Massage therapy is a professional treatment by an educated individual (massage therapist). They provide treatment for multiple different health conditions by using their hands.

These hand treatments include stroking, kneading, deep pressure, soft and restorative, among others. These different treatments each offer a unique benefit to the body and are best when used in combination with each other.

These massage therapists also use elbows and knuckles to provide a deeper massage. This is called deep tissue or sports massage

Nowadays, massage therapy doesn’t stop at only using the hands. There are now multiple different tools massage therapists use for treatments. This includes bamboo sticks, cupping, hot stones, rollers, heat pads, massaging balls, and more.

What Is the Training Required for Massage Therapists?

Reading this, you may be considering having a massage with a registered massage therapist. If so, you are probably wondering how much education they have to become qualified for their profession.

San Diego has one of the highest quality requirements for massage therapists in the country. The organization requires over 500 hours of training needed, with a recognized certificate. This includes either the NCBTMB, NCCAOM, or FSMTB National Certification.

That being said, massage therapists do not just take a program and continue to massage without any further education. Since the field of massage therapy is ever-evolving, massage therapists must participate in continuing education every year. These continuing education credits are mandatory for them to keep their certificate.

What Are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

Contrary to typical belief, massage therapy is not just for those who suffer from pain. Massage therapy has many benefits for all different types of people. This includes:

  • Pre and post-natal
  • Children
  • The elderly population
  • Cancer patients
  • Those with neurological conditions
  • Diabetes, and much more.

For many, massage therapy is part of their integrative healing plan. This is in combination with holistic remedies such as naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, and more.

Some of the main benefits of massage therapy include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Lowering symptoms of depression
  • Improving immune system function (via lymphatic drainage)
  • Increasing energy
  • Improving circulation
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Reducing muscle tension
  • Reducing body aches and pains
  • Reducing the symptoms of nerve pain
  • Improving digestion
  • Healing sports injuries
  • Relieving tension in the body
  • Relieving constipation
  • Improving sleep disorders related to stress (such as insomnia)
  • Reducing joint pain
  • Relieving headaches
  • Reducing symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ALS

As you can see, the results are nearly limitless. This is because massage therapy is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. There are many different types of massage therapy available, thanks to science and the ever-evolving industry.

Even without health conditions or pain, some people enjoy massages simply for the connection aspect of it. Touch is an essential part of our well-being, and many studies have discovered that physical touch can lift the mood. Touch also reduces stress, improves self-esteem, and clears the mind.

This is because when we are touched, our bodies release the feel-good “love” hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is needed for our overall well-being, and the lack of oxytocin can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and tension.

Different Types of Massage Therapy

You now know what massage therapy is, the benefits, and the education required. Now we will cover what types of massage therapy are available for you.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage given. It is applied by using massage oil, and a specific stroke technique that is unique only to this style.

The therapist will begin with wider strokes to loosing up the tension within the muscles. Then they will use techniques such as kneading, rolling, or wringing. After that, they will use tapotement, which is a form of tapping, to awaken the muscles.

Swedish massage helps to remove tension from the body, enhance energy, and promote relaxation.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage involves a much deeper focus from the practitioner, as they need to discover specific pain points in the body. This style uses an integrative approach and looks at your body as an entire system. This is because your neck pain may not actually be from a neck injury, rather it could be from an imbalance in the hip.

Deep tissue massage uses techniques that may feel a bit more intense than the Swedish style because the therapist will focus on your trouble areas and knots in your muscles. This style is especially beneficial for those who suffer from sports injuries, chronic pain, postural issues, and similar conditions.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is specifically for treating and preventing sports injuries, improving athletic performance, and increasing flexibility. The practitioner will use specific techniques that manipulate your soft tissue, myofascial, and muscles to both alleviate the pain and improve your range of motion.

This includes joint mobilization, compression, deep tissue, and point therapy.

Book Your Massage Therapy Appointment Today!

Now that you know your answer to “what is massage therapy?”, you are ready to receive its benefits. Whether you are suffering from pain, or want to relax, massage therapy will help you to feel better.

Our massage therapists are highly-trained and experienced practitioners. Each practitioner specializes in multiple different types of massage therapy. Feel free to contact us to book your massage therapy appointment today!