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The Benefits of Massage Therapy

Chelsea McLean, RMT

Massage therapy has been a part of health and wellness for over 5000 years now. It’s an extremely popular form of treatment for people who seek relaxation, improved tissue health, better range of motion and overall improvement of daily life.

There are many benefits to getting regular massage therapy treatments and the beautiful thing about a treatment is that it’s tailored specifically to each person and what their needs are. Today, I’m going break down a regular massage therapy session: the benefits to getting regular treatment; what to expect when you come in for a massage; how often you should come in, and, what to do after your treatment.

As Registered Massage Therapists, we have intense training and many years of schooling that help us heal the body in countless ways and allow us to work with whatever ailment you present with. When we talk about the benefits of massage therapy, the list is quite long, but the main points of discussion are:

– Increased Relaxation: Working with your parasympathetic nervous system (or your “rest and digest” system), we use the treatment time to encourage your body to let it’s guard down and take a break. Using specific massage strokes and techniques, we encourage blood flow through the body and brain, which allow for the release of oxytocin and serotonin – our “feel good” hormones. When these hormones are released, our physical body is able to relax and thus, you leave your treatment feeling like you’re on cloud nine.
– Improved Range of Motion: A common complaint when a client comes in for a massage is the feeling of “tightness” through an area(s) of the body. Massage Therapy is great for decreasing this “tightness” and improving your movement. As your body relaxes, we, as therapists, can manipulate the muscles through targeted movements and stretches that release trigger points (muscle knots), relax the muscle and physically lengthen it. If you’ve ever gotten a massage, you might notice that you stand a little taller, can get a deeper breath in or just move better through your days. Awesome!
– Decreased Stress and Anxiety: Like in my first point, massage therapy allows for the release of oxytocin and seratonin from the brain. Again, these are our “feel good, happy hormones.” When these chemicals are released from our brain, they tell our body to relax and that we’re not in danger. It’s like a giant brain hug! So, with regular massage therapy, these hormones are released more often, allowing less stress through the body, which means less “tightness” and pain.
– Improved Sleep: Pretty obvious to me! If we add the first three benefits together, it would be hard NOT to sleep well! Though, if you are still having trouble sleeping, it might be your pillow or how you are sleeping. Chat with your massage therapist if you’re having issues- they should be able to offer some great tips to a better sleep!
– Overall Improved Muscle Health: Our muscles work hard for us each and everyday. Even when you’re laying down and relaxing, they’re still turned on and ready to go. In certain situations (ie: when a glass is falling to the floor and you catch it), this is a great thing, but sometimes, we want to be able to sit still without having a muscle spasm or experience that “tightness” everyone talks about. My answer? Get a massage! Like previously stated, massage helps to relax our muscles, bring new and healthy blood to the area, and, in turn, creates healthier tissue. With regular massage, you’ll notice your muscles wont fatigue as fast, your reflex reaction time will be quicker, bruises will heal faster and you’ll move 100 times better. Pretty cool, eh?!

With all this being said, you’re probably anxious to book your next massage. Do it! If you looking to rest, relax and get that “tightness” worked out, I suggest booking in every 4-6 weeks. This is a good time frame, as it allows our body to recover from the massage treatment and make it to the next one without going back two steps. This is typically a “management type schedule”. Of course, if you love massage and want to come in every week or two, please do! We love seeing you!

On the other hand, you might be seeking massage therapy to help with an injury. Every injury and rehabilitation process is different, so check in with your therapist and the treatment plan they have for you, as they might want to see you more often.

The beautiful thing about Massage Therapy is that each treatment is different and planned to best suit the individual client. As Massage Therapists, we want to make sure your needs are met and that we’re giving your body the best treatment. When you come, at the start of each session, your therapist will ask you questions in regards to pain, lifestyle and overall body function; answer as best as possible and don’t be afraid to ask questions back! As therapists, we encourage feedback and clear channels of communication. If you’re uncomfortable with the pressure, let us know! If you want a specific area worked on longer because it’s giving you more trouble than usual, just ask. Or, if you want some good stretches and exercises to do between massage appointments, we have a ton we’d love to share with you!

After your massage, different therapists will give different advice on what to do. Follow that advice, as they know what is best for your body after the treatment they’ve just given. Personally, I’m a fan of movement- a gentle walk, yoga class or light workout, followed by a nice warm shower usually keeps the body relaxed and feeling loose. Along with that, make sure to drink plenty of water and let your therapist know if there is any pain in the following days.

At the end of the day, I am a little biased. Massage Therapy is a wonderful treatment to add into your lifestyle, wellness and movement plan. Yes, it has many benefits that we all need (especially now), but it’s a way to honour our body, thank it for continually working for us and giving it the TLC it desperately needs. Taking the hour to focus on your body and what it needs, is a great form of self-care and if I’m being honest, we could all use more of that.

So book your next massage, enjoy it and let your body rest, relax and recover. The massage table is calling your name, but until your next appointment- keep moving, stay relaxed and be well.