Is Massage really relaxing or does it just relax the muscles?

During my career as a massage therapist I have been asked about the benefits of massage. My answer usually covers the physical and emotional benefits but more on that later. It isn’t always as straight forward as this, is anything really straight forward?

Just last week I visited a local Thai massage business. I’ve been there a few times before and I like the Thai massage style as I find it quite relaxing. Believe me when I tell you that being a massage therapist also means that I rely on good massage from other therapists. On one occasion during the football season I really needed some solid work done to my calf. I thought I communicated this to the therapist and to my surprise she didn’t really treat that area the way I needed it treated. I think the point here is that although I found the treatment to be quite relaxing and therapeutic I don’t believe that I got what I wanted and ended up booking with a Remedial therapist in another area.

This makes me think have you ever asked someone to itch a spot on your back, and everything but that spot gets scratched and just when it happens the hand has moved on? Well this is what it felt like for me.

There are physiological effects of massage such as; increased circulation of rich oxygenated blood to soft tissues and the release of neurotransmitters that help to regulate body systems and then there’s the emotional aspects such as making us feel good after we’ve felt some relief from pain. Too often this is controlled by the use of synthetic drugs but that’s another conversation. These are the benefits that one should experience as an after effect of massage which is great, but as in my case when you have tenderness and tightness in your soft tissues you probably need something more specific to fix this.

On this point any procedure that targets tissue dysfunction such as dry needling or manual compression will get the job done, but also stretches and exercise will help, effectively we are itching that spot. Please keep in mind that there is no right or wrong here as it’s really a matter of getting the right treatment for the situation and this will enhance your treatment results.