Massage therapy is good for more than just self-care and relaxation. In fact, massage therapists can help treat many health conditions by using different massage techniques. One of the many benefits of massage is increased mobility and flexibility.
Mobility, Flexibility, and Your Health
Most people don’t realize that flexibility plays an important role in your overall health. By increasing your flexibility, you can improve your cardiovascular health, as well as avoid back pain and joint injuries. Just by regularly stretching, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce chronic joint pain. If you have tight hamstrings, they will pull down on your pelvis, which in turn forces your back into a painful curved position. Stretching and massaging these muscles can prevent and lessen back pain. Tight muscles also prevent your joints from reaching their full range of motion, which can cause injury and inflammation. Massage therapy is an effective, proactive solution to increase your flexibility and improve your overall health.
Massage as a Preventive and Rehabilitative Treatment
Massage therapists can work wonders on that massage table to improve your muscle strength and pliability. Using a combination of massage techniques on calf muscles can improve ankle joint flexibility and balance, for example. The physiological effects of massage that improve flexibility include:
- Breaking down and realigning collagen fibers: Our body makes collagen fibers to heal damaged tissue but they often lie over muscle tissue haphazardly, which reduces movement. Massage therapists can break down these cross-links of fibers and realign them to your natural muscle fibers.
- Increased temperature: Massage therapy increases blood flow to damaged muscles, which raises the temperature in your muscle tissue. This warmth helps to relax and loosen your muscles and joints.
- Increased tissue elasticity: As the temperature increases during a massage, your tissue elasticity increases which in turn improves your range of motion.
Massage therapy can increase flexibility before a sports event to prevent injuries or treat existing muscle and joint issues, such as arthritis. Many seniors suffer from inflammation and joint pain, an unfortunate commonality among older people. Regular massage can relieve pain, improve mood, increase mobility and blood flow, and lower blood pressure.
Best Types of Massage
Different types of massage have various benefits, but just about every kind will increase your flexibility and mobility. Massage types with moderate pressure are ideal, including but not limited to:
- Swedish massage: Massage therapists use long, fluid strokes to reduce muscle tightness. This is the most common form of massage and is deeply relaxing as well.
- Deep tissue massage: A little more intense than Swedish massage, this form uses deeper strokes that penetrate all layers of muscle tissue to address severe tension.
- Sports massage: Another intense form of massage that targets injured muscles to promote healing and increase mobility.
- Hot stone therapy: Hot stones relax your muscles by melting away tension. Massage therapists can alternate with cold stones to improve circulation and reduce swelling.
- Shiatsu massage: Shiatsu is a Japanese technique that involves applying pressure in circular, rhythmic motions to restore one’s flow of energy.
- Trigger point massage: This targeted form of massage relieves pain by applying pressure or vibration to myofascial trigger points in the body.
- Myofascial release: Massaging the fascia, the tissues that surround your muscles, relieves tension and pain. The massage therapist does this by rolling your skin back and forth on your back and legs.
You should be able to talk to your massage therapist about your specific needs in a consultation beforehand. Using a combination of these massage techniques can drastically improve your flexibility and range of motion, among other things. Massage therapy can also ease stress and help you get a better night’s sleep. Get hands-on with your health and talk to your doctor about how you could benefit from massage.