Massage Therapy – Pampered Luxury or Personal Wellness?-May 30, 2016
Have you had a massage recently? And by recently, we mean in the past month? There is a very small population of people who schedule themselves in for regular massages. For the rest, massages are usually seen as more of a luxury. But should they be?
Recent studies have shown that there are many health benefits that correlate with scheduling regular massage therapy. A massage is like an oil change. Just like regular oil changes help make a car run better; regular massages helps to improve the performance of your body. Bear with us on this analogy. Oil lubricates the car engine allowing internal parts to rub together without overheating. A massage increases blood and lymph (the “oil”) circulation. As lymph circulates through the body, it removes waste from body tissue taking any aches and pains you may be experiencing with it
To help us understand the full benefits of massage, we talked with one of our Registered Massage Therapists (RMT), Lindsey Bradbury, to get the scoop about everything massage; its health benefits and why you might want to add this to your wellness regime.
Name: Lindsey Bradbury
Practicing RMT: 3 years
Scandinave RMT: 2.5 years
*Lindsey was a personal trainer for 6 years and is a retired elite rugby athlete.
- Should massage be treated as luxury or wellness?
The massage profession is moving into more of a wellness/treatment plan direction. As an RMT, my treatment style is to establish set goals with my clients during each session. These goals are both long and short term and I will develop a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs to achieve these goals. I do not consider massage therapy a “luxury”; however some patients/guests may think differently. I usually try to educate them as to why massage therapy is beneficial even if they don’t have any major complaints of pain. The majority of time, guests are getting a massage because they are stressed, suffer from chronic pain or have some muscle stiffness.
- What are the health benefits of getting a massage regularly?
There are so many benefits of having a massage regularly and it would take forever to list them all. The most common ailments that I treat are: chronic low back pain, stress, anxiety/depression, post-operative, injuries, arthritis, muscle pain, etc. Massage therapy helps decrease pain and stress, increases body awareness, increases range of motion (ROM), and has several positive effects on mental health especially for those who suffer from neurological pathologies such as MS, or Parkinson’s disease. Massage Therapy can be used prenatal, pre/post labour, it can help toddlers and young teens to grow healthy joints and muscles, and it has even shown benefits in palliative and end of life care.
- How often should a person get a massage?
It all depends on the goal of the patient. If the patient wants to increase range of motion then massage therapy should be more frequent. If he/she suffers from depression or anxiety, then “massage therapy as needed” would be beneficial. It depends on each individual, their goals, response to treatment and of course their own personal self-management.
- Should people doing athletic training make massage part of their regime?
I would say that this would be a personal preference. Most of the athletes I know use massage therapy because of the adverse effects their sport has on their ability and the benefits of massage for improvements in mobility and improvements in strength and performance.
- How does massage help with recovery and injury prevention?
Massage therapy can remove unwanted swelling or inflammation, help increase range of motion and build strength, balance and proprioception. To prevent injury it is important to follow a remedial exercise program which your RMT can help you with.
- How do the Scandinave Baths pair with the massage? Is this similar to taking a bath before/after a massage?
The Scandinave Baths help increase circulation and the warmth helps to warm up muscle tissue preparing it for manipulation. Guests should be taking the opportunity to prepare mentally while using the Baths as well. The focus should be on relaxing and letting go of worry and stress, allowing your mind to understand your body and what it needs. Scandinave Spa is awesome for their addition of cold baths. Doing a contrast between hot and cold creates a lymphatic pump in your body which will increase lymph movement, removing toxins from the system.
On the other hand, with the Baths at the spa you are not able to add anything to the water. Taking a bath at home allows you to add Epsom salts, essentials oils, etc. Epsom salts contain magnesium which is a mineral that aids in muscle and bone health. Your skin, being your biggest organ in your body, will absorb the minerals to aid in your healing.
Lindsey’s final thoughts
If you want to maximize the benefits of massage therapy, then commitment is required. RMT’s are not healers or miracle workers, we are healthcare professionals that guide and assist you to a better quality of life. EVERY massage therapist has their own unique way of treating. You may need to try two or three different RMTs that you can build a connection with and that will help achieve your goals.
There are many benefits of regular massage as Lindsey has highlighted. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety which are common factors for many diseases. Massage is also an excellent addition to your training regime helping with mobility, range of movement, and strength.
Photo Credit: Grey County Tourism
If you’re thinking about adding massage to your wellness plan, spring is the perfect time to start as we’re more active once again. Whether you’re sore from playing your first round of golf, doing your first 20 km bike ride or just spending an afternoon in the garden, massage will help with your recovery.
We’ll leave you with this thought. Massage therapy dates back thousands of years to 2700BCE, with written record of it found in China and Egypt. It has a long history and is still being used today, showing that massage is an excellent form of healing. Just because a massage feels like you are being pampered, it doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic.
Things to know before your massage
- It’s OK to get naked. Massage therapists are professionally trained and well skilled in draping (a.k.a. keeping you covered) during the massage. Undergarments can get in the way of pressure points and long strokes.
- Drink lots of water after your treatment. Massage is similar to exercise. Muscles can become dehydrated and metabolic waste can build up. By drinking water, you are helping to remove this waste and re-hydrate.
- Allow yourself to get fully relaxed. Flatulence is a common reaction during massage and this is totally normal.
- Tell your RMT how you are doing. Don’t be afraid to let them know how the pressure feels and make sure to communicate if something doesn’t feel good or relaxing. It is also good to communicate a previous injury or sore muscle area in advance.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Sometimes when a tender area is being worked on, all you want to do is hold your breath. This is taking away from the work being done on that muscle. By breathing you are oxygenating your blood which will aid tense muscles.
Make massage a part of your wellness plan.