What is Therapeutic Massage ?
Massage Therapy is manipulation of the soft body tissues. This includes muscle, connective tissues, tendons and ligaments to enhance a person's health and well-being. There are numerous modalities (methods) that are used to achieve this. People seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons - to reduce localized pain, relax muscles, reduce stress and anxiety, rehabilitate injuries and promote over all good health and wellness.
How are these results accomplished ?
A massage therapists touch triggers the mechanoreceptors located in soft tissue. A mechanoreceptor is a cell that responds to mechanical stimulus, to touch. This is a stimulus-response loop in conjunction with the central nervous system (CNS). We apply stimulus and the CNS responds. If we apply the correct stimulus we get the desired results. This can include relaxation, increased range of motion (use) and a lessening of localized pain.
What about Deep Tissue Massage?
There are a lot of misconceptions in the massage field by therapists and their clients as well. The CNS responds back to the local area of stimulation. If stimulation is to intense and causes pain a contractile (to shorten or guard) response is sent by the CNS to the area being touched. This is not necessarily a good way to release muscle tissue. Many people have an endorphin release which will reduce the pain temporarily. Pain does not always mean "healing".
What does all this mean to me?
Choose your therapist wisely. Make sure they are licensed and question them about their continuing education. All modalities have their place. Aggressive, quick treatments may help to a great degree, but non-painful manipulation may be even more beneficial to the over all picture. Muscle tension and pain doesn't just appear overnight. It does not always leave with just one session. You cannot make a person relax by yelling at them. You cannot make a muscle relax by hurting it.
Little Hawk's Paradise
NCBTMB Approved Continuing Education Provider For Massage Therapists
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