Massage therapists deal with the injury of soft tissues, either from trauma (e.g. accidents or surgery) or repetitive strain (e.g. poor posture, poor ergonomic design of tools and furniture). Massage therapy encompasses a wide range of different techniques that can affect the circulatory, musculoskeletal, nervous, and respiratory systems. It can include the use of hydrotherapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, instruction in proper breathing and the assessment and correction of posture. A massage therapist can physically stretch muscles, inhibit muscle spasm, increase the range of motion of joints and help break down scar tissue. They are trained to assess and treat most soft tissues of the human body (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and other connective tissue). Once a pattern of muscle dysfunction is assessed and treated, a massage therapist will provide advice and tools such as specific exercises and stretches to lessen or eliminate the soft tissue problem.
The Benefits of Massage Therapy
Two of the greatest physiological changes produced by massage therapy are an increase in blood circulation and an increase in lymphatic fluid circulation. Increased blood circulation will bring about reduction of swelling (edema), faster healing (better delivery of nutrition to cells and removal of cellular debris), lowered heart rate and blood pressure (increased volume of blood) and enhanced overall health (smooth delivery of the body chemical messengers, nutrition and removal of debris to and from all organs). The lymphatic system is essentially the immune system. It contains white blood cells, killer and T cells, and other guardian and soldier cells. Massage can increase the effectiveness of the immune system by increasing the distribution of lymphatic fluid.
Massage therapy can also be used for stress relief. When emotional stress is reduced, the body reduces the production of damaging stress chemicals. Physical touch and massage techniques can settle an overworked mind and leave a person relaxed and centred. The caring touch of a massage therapist can be an effective treatment of physical and emotional pain.