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What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical (anatomical), functional (physiological), and psychological purposes and goals.

Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, acting on and manipulating the body with pressure - structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving - tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids focused on superficial layers of muscle using massage oil or lotion.

Why Do People get Massage Therapy?

People get massage therapy for relaxation or for a variety of health conditions:

  • Back pain
  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendinitis
  • Stress relief and stress-related conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains, and sprains
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Circulatory and respiratory problems
  • Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation

Massage therapy relieves stress.  It is thought to help the body's stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol.

Massage therapy also appears to enhance immune function.

How Does Massage Therapy Work?

Massage therapy improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues.

It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.

What a Typical Massage Therapy Session is Like

A typical massage therapy session is between 30 minutes to one hour.  Your massage will begin with a brief consultation and review of symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle.

You will be asked to disrobe to your comfort level (many people keep their underwear on) while the massage therapist is out of the room, and lie face down under appropriate draping on a padded massage table.

The massage therapist will knock on the door to make sure you are ready.  The massage therapist re-enters the room and will then adjust the face rest and pillows to ensure that you are comfortable and properly positioned.  Tell the massage therapist if you are too warm or cold.

The massage therapist uses a light oil or lotion on the skin and begins the massage.  A full body massage usually begins on the back and then moves down to the legs.  You will then be asked to turn over so you are face up.  The massage continues on your arms, legs, neck, and head.

You are underneath the draping at all times, only the part of the body being treated at any one time is uncovered.

After the massage, the massage therapist leaves the room so you can get changed.

Take your time getting up.  If you sit or stand too quickly you may feel lightheaded or dizzy.

Will Massage Therapy Hurt?

Massage therapy shouldn't hurt.  Occasionally there is mild aching when the massage therapist applies pressure over "knots" and other areas of muscle tension.  If the pressure is too strong for you, let the massage therapist know.

How Will I Feel After a Massage?

Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment.  Occasionally, people experience mild temporary aching for a day.

Precautions

Massage therapy is not recommended for certain people:

  • People with infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
  • Immediately after surgery
  • Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
  • People prone to blood clots.  There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged.  If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
  • Pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage, but generally are appropriate after the first trimester.  Massage in pregnant women should be done only by a Licensed Massage Therapists or Duhla.

Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.

Additional Massage Tips

Don't eat a heavy meal before the massage.

If it's your first time at the office, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms.  Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.

It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.

How does Deep Tissue Massage work?

When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands or painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movements, and inflammation.

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement.  To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.

Will Deep Tissue Massage hurt?

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.

It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort range.

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so.  The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.

What conditions is Deep Tissue Massage used for?

Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited Mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Postural problems
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm

According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain.

People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.

What can I expect during my visit?

Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.

You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas. 

It is important to drink plenty of water after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.

Nakeyae Street is our Licensed Massage Therapist at Westside Family Chiropractic.

She is a 2012 graduate of Spencerian College, earning over 650 hours of education and hands on experience before joining the work field.

Focusing on problem areas and issues is what she loves to do! Swedish, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, and Sports Massage are her favorite modalities and has accumulated many hours of practice in all of them.  

Do not hesitate to call our office at 502-223-2001 to speak with Nakeyae with any questions/concerns you might have regarding massage therapy and how it can benefit you.