Working long hours at the computer can result in stress, muscle tension, injury or pain which can drain you physically, mentally or emotionally. This can impact negatively on your social life as well as on your work. As the most important benefit of massage is the reduction of stress, general health can be improved and maintained by massage and and the negative effects of stress can be alleviated or prevented. On an ongoing basis it can reduce pain, prevent injuries and maintain health. It is an important part of staying healthy physically and mentally as it relieves stress which is responsible for 90% of illness and pain.
Due to reflex effects through the autonomic nervous system, massage affects internal organs and areas removed from the area being massaged. It promotes relaxation, reduces pain, boosts mood and mental clarity. Massage can be used for relaxation or stimulation and may be applied to rehabilitation after surgery, injury or ill health. It improves blood and lymph circulation, increases natural killer cells and lymphocytes which destroy cancer cells, boosts mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine and relieves pain by increasing pain killing endorphins. Massage can relax the body, decrease blood pressure and heart rate and reduce stress and depression. It may also provide symptomatic relief for acute and chronic conditions such as headache, facial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. It re-aligns and rejuvenates, restoring balance to body and being, so you can take in your stride whatever life throws your way. It promotes digestion, joint mobility, muscle relaxation, relief of spasms and cramps.
Massage therapy is becoming increasingly sophisticated and effective as it moves into new areas of massage such as medical massage. Medical massage is the fastest growing modality of massage therapy today. Training in massage therapy was an integral part of medical massage and nursing care up to the mid 1950s when it dropped to almost nothing due to the rapid development and almost exclusive use of technology in the twentieth century. Massage therapy was no longer seen as necessary for standard hospital care. Today, however, it is realized that massage therapy in the hospital or medical massage is necessary to provide a sense of wholeness and care which is absent in the increasing fragmentation of hospitalization due to the growing emphasis on specialization. Medical massage uses the traditional strokes of massage therapy which are then specifically adapted to treat, for instance, cancer patients, hospital patients and pregnant women. Medical massage may be given in the hospital setting, an outpatient clinic or as a mobile massage where the massage therapist travels to the patient’s home to give the patient a personally tailored massage therapy or medical massage protocol.
In massage therapy or mobile massage specifically adapted as a medical massage for the cancer patient, the massage therapist pays close attention to the side effects of the curative medical treatment to devise an appropriate medical massage protocol. Here the massage therapy is designed around the particular side effects the patient is experiencing such as pain, lymph-oedema, scarring, nausea, stress, tension, insomnia, fatigue, anger, depression and anxiety.
Thus cancer medical massage is a uniquely designed massage therapy or mobile massage which complements the curative medical treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Hence, medical massage requires more extensive knowledge of medical procedures, pathology and side effects than ordinary massage therapy. Failure to understand this will result in harm to the patient as the massage therapist will not be able to adapt the massage therapy to design a competent medical massage protocol, i.e. an appropriately adjusted massage therapy.
Medical massage for pregnancy is massage therapy or mobile massage which has been adapted to the unique needs of the pregnant woman. Here the massage therapy must take into account mainly musculoskeletal issues caused by the weight of the growing uterus altering the centre of gravity of the woman’s body. Medical massage in this case will focus especially on upper and lower back pain, sacroiliac dysfunction as well as pubic symphysis and lower abdominal pain. The medical massage therapist must also be alert to and able to detect acute medical problems such as deep vein thrombosis and preeclampsia which are both potentially fatal if not medically treated.
The greatest benefit of massage is the reduction of stress and tension. Since a wide range of physical and psychological conditions stem from stress, massage can help alleviate these conditions and therefore has a broad therapeutic application. The most prominent benefit and use of massage is the alleviation of stress which then relieves muscular tension, promotes relaxation and treats lower back, neck and shoulder pain, pregnancy, bedsores, severe burns, iliotibial band syndrome and spinal cord injury as well as ameliorating systemic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, attention deficit disorder (ADD), fibromyalgia, asthma, autism, diabetes, bulimia, eczema, HIV, lymphoedema, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Sleep disorders, cancer-related fatigue, diabetes, high blood pressure, spinal cord injury, low back pain, lowered immunity, post-operative surgery, infertility, autism, eating disorders, age-related disorders and smoking cessation can all be treated by massage.
Bodywork, such as shiatsu and massage, offers a drug-free, non-invasive and person centred approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
The great physical, mental and emotional changes of pregnancy affect your lifestyle, your job and your relationships with friends and family. Massage helps you integrate these changes successfully. Massage therapy during pregnancy improves overall health, decreases stress and relieves muscles aches and pains. It addresses the many discomforts associated with the skeletal, muscular and circulation changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.
Massage alleviates low back, hip and leg pain, oedema, nausea, heartburn and constipation. Regular massage decreases anxiety and lowers stress hormones during pregnancy. Labour is shorter and easier while babies are healthier. There are fewer obstetric and postnatal complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight.
Massage for cancer patients is a safe, non-pharmacological treatment without any side effects. It helps reduce anxiety, fatigue, depression, stress, tension, anger, insomnia and improve self-image and quality of life. Massage may reduce pain, muscle tension, nausea, constipation, lymphoedema and scarring.
Massage as a supportive care intervention for children with cancer helps reduce pain, anxiety, depression, constipation and high blood pressure. Massage also strengthens the function of the immune system and reduces nausea and depression during periods of immune suppression following chemotherapy.