Most people think of massages as a luxurious experience where they are bathed in essential oils. But did you know massages actually have several health care benefits? Before we can talk about the types of massages, it is important to talk about one of the main benefits - the release of the inner myofascial. My-o what?
The Myofascial Release helps to loosen restricted fascia which is a tough connective tissue that is present from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet encasing every organ, muscle, bone, and nerve fiber in place. With injury or trauma from repetitive motion, the fascia can become inflamed and tight. Having an issue in your myofascia is like pulling on a loose yarn of a sweater - the entire sweater would start tightening, causing muscle tension - which can then send signals of pain or other symptoms like headaches to far areas of the body from where the issue is starting. Taking care of your myofascia helps to keep your health from unraveling!
If you want to read how pain is affected by your fascia, click this Johns Hopkins Medicine article.
Now that you know why massages are important, we can talk about 4 types: Swedish, Neuromuscular, Deep and Trigger. Depending on your health conditions and ailments, one type may be better to relieve pain than another. This blog article is meant to give you a brief overview to help suggest that massage that is best for you.
1. Starting with Swedish
The Swedish Massage is the "Ooh and Aah" relaxing massage you often think of when you think of a spa. It’s benefits are to reduce stress and to increase blood circulation with light to firm kneading, tapping, and stroking techniques. Swedish technique is often used in the beginning to prepare patients for more medically focused work.
2. Deep Thoughts! Deep Words!
Deep Tissue Massage is used to help break down scar tissue and adhesions by focusing on deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, which in turn helps increase range of motion. Being one of the techniques with the deepest manual therapy pressure, this can also be one of the most painful. For this specific purpose, "pain IS gain". It's not a therapy that is required for all patients or for all conditions.
Patients needing a sports massage are very tight from workouts, immobile or under high stress may benefit from this therapy on an "as-needed" basis.
3. Neuromuscular Massage Technique (NMT)
This is a medical massage that uses concentrated pressure, usually with the fingers, knuckles or elbows, for about 10 to 30 seconds to help correct pain and movement dysfunction of the affected muscle. These massage sessions usually focus on "problem areas" of the body and not the full body. NMT concentrates on pain from ischemic muscle tissue, helping to increase blood and oxygen to where it is lacking. This then reduces the production of lactic acid which contributes to the soreness that comes after physical activity.
This specialized training requires an additional 2 year to 2.5 years of education. This training is in addition to the traditional massage therapy license education.
TIP: Pressure should not be too deep, especially in comparison to Deep Tissue Massage, as the goals are different. For this type of therapy, pressure that is too deep will make the session counterproductive.
Trigger Point Therapy is your facias best friend. Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy focuses on those painful "muscle knots". You'll know when you have them. These buggers can cause dull or sharp pain, muscles spasms, tightness and even referred pain or symptoms to other parts of the body! MTrP focuses on placing pressure on these specific points of irritated, contracted skeletal muscle nodules and can be painful during the massage. Multiple treatments are likely needed and will help to relieve overall pain - especially if everyday repetitive movement and stress is the cause of these trigger points.