Have you thought about getting a massage to help you recover from an injury or to just relax? If you’ve never had one, you probably have some questions. Here are a few common Massage Therapy FAQs for those who are new to massage therapy.
The touch of a massage therapist can signal a relaxation response, causing your heart and breathing rates to slow, blood flow to increase, blood pressure to reduce, stress hormones to decrease and muscles to relax. In some cases, a professional massage may be just the cure you need to relieve aches and chronic pain and make you feel better. Massage can:
– Lessen lower back pain by improving circulation, relaxing muscles, increasing endorphins (the “feel-good” chemicals) and improving sleep.
– Help the lymphatic system by improving blood and lymph circulation, reducing swelling, relieving swelling and helping organs function better.
– Relieve side effects of cancer treatments and enhance quality of life.
– Minimize headaches by blocking pain signals and releasing serotonin to reduce anxiety.
– Benefit mental health by activating neurotransmitters to decrease anxiety and reduce stress hormone levels.
You will most likely need to answer some questions about your health history and what areas of your body might benefit from massage. The massage therapist can then do an assessment to determine which type of massage would be best for you. Make sure that you mention all of your health concerns, the medications you’re taking and procedures you’ve had so the therapist’s techniques do not hurt you.
If you are more comfortable leaving your underwear on during the massage, that’s fine. After all, one of the benefits of massage is reducing anxiety, so you don’t want to be nervous. Even if you are undressed, you will be covered by a sheet or towel. It is only removed when the therapist works on that part of your body. No area will be exposed without your consent.
A typical full-body massage lasts about an hour. For a partial massage session of maybe the neck and shoulders, back, or legs and feet it could be just a half hour. However, 60 to 90 minutes is considered best for optimal relaxation. The session length also includes time to dress, undress and talk to the massage therapist about your treatment.
Generally, massage feels good – at least it does on healthy tissue. If you have an area of chronic pain or one that is already painful, massage could hurt for a few minutes. The therapist can use a variety of techniques to minimize discomfort and make you feel your best.
Although a shoulder rub from your significant other may feel good, you should contact a registered massage therapist for massage therapy. He or she will ask you about the type of pain you have, what caused it and where it is. That helps determine the most effective type of massage therapy to use to treat your issue.
Just as there are many massage specialties available, there are many practitioners who can perform the various techniques. Look for a massage therapist who has credentials and has been trained. Ask for recommendations from family, friends or your doctor. If the sign on the door displays “medical massage” or “sports massage,” it’s usually a better bet. Building a relationship with your massage therapist may take a few sessions, so it’s not uncommon to need to “shop around” until you find one who is right for you. Another way to find a list of massage therapists is to consult the American Massage Therapy Association’s Find a Massage Therapist® national locator service.
Most people feel extremely relaxed after a massage session, and many say their pain is reduced or eliminated. You could experience some soreness – similar to what you might feel after a really good workout. However, once the soreness subsides, you could experience an increase in energy, heightened awareness and greater productivity that can last for a few days.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that even one Swedish (deep-tissue) massage session can provide medical benefits. It significantly decreases arginine vasopressin (AVP), the hormone that constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure and reduces urine excretion. It also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases lymphocytes, the white blood cells that attack cancer. Moreover, massage therapy can be a drug-free option to relieve inflammation. Additionally, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) says that although massage therapy is not typical “medicine,” it can help fight infection by boosting the immune system.
Tipping is always up to you. A good measure is to tip your massage therapist as you would your restaurant server: a percentage based on the cost of the session.
If you have a fever, cold, flu or contagious disease, it’s not a good idea to schedule a massage. At most other times, massage will be a good thing that makes you feel good. However, it’s a good idea to get your doctor’s permission for massage with a medical condition.
A natural “medicine,” massage therapy helps relieve symptoms and improve health. Now that more people are choosing to live healthier lifestyles, many are opting for a more holistic approach to health care and pain management. That is causing the demand for licensed massage therapists to surge. According to O*NET OnLine, the career outlook for massage therapists is much faster than average. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024.
Florida Academy in Fort Myers offers a comprehensive 600-hour massage therapy program (with day and evening classes) that can get you started in a massage therapy career in as little as 20 weeks. When you conclude your training and earn your license, you will be qualified for a massage therapist position in a medical facility, chiropractic office, cancer treatment location or more.