Some people are super familiar with massage and the benefits of massage therapy. Though many of us often think massage = luxury and wonder what this modality really has to do with wellness and health. We’ve asked our in-house expert, Erin Devlin, to help us uncover the familiar and unfamiliar about massage by answering some questions. Take a peek below at what she has to say.
#1 What is massage?
A massage is intentional time that you give to yourself or loved ones to relax and let go. To allow your mind to clear and your muscles to let go of practiced patterns of holding or being. Through the use of hands, forearms, and the occasional elbow the muscles are kneaded, stretched and worked to release stress, pain, and to ultimately heal.
#2 What are some of the biggest benefits of massage?
Over my ten years of practice I am continually in awe of the depth that massage can transform and heal. For some, it is improving movement from frozen shoulder. For new mothers and fathers it provides a quite space for 60 whole minutes of alone time. For some it is relieving nagging sensations of pain in the low back, neck, or shoulder. For others, it is relieving sciatic pain. For some it is finding that one stretch that gets to the right spot! The benefits are as individual as the people I see on my table. I have yet to see someone who did not benefit in some way from a massage.
#3 Who should get a massage?
Everyone! See above.
#4 How often should one get a massage?
It truly is different for everyone and is based on the reason they are coming in for massage. I say at a minimum once a month. Which may seem like a lot to the novice but if you think that out of an entire month which consists of 730.5 hours or 43830 minutes you are scheduling a mere 60-minutes entirely to yourself. I can’t say that is too much time for me!
If you have something going on that we are specifically addressing, I recommend once-a-week until we get you into a place that we can maintain.
#5 Is massage safe?
#6 How do I know which massage is best for me?
Well it depends on what is going on and what your goals are. If you are focused more on needing to relax than you may not necessarily need deeper pressure to achieve that. If you come in with a nagging area of pain that has built over months or even years I may recommend deeper pressure. Also the level of pressure can change from treatment to treatment. Ultimately it depends on your muscular tissue and how easily it releases or doesn’t along with your goals for that day.
#7 What injuries can massage treat?
Massage is amazing. It can help with frozen shoulder to all kinds of back pain, to the triathlete training for or just finishing the latest marathon, to nursing mothers whose shoulders are rounding forward from nursing their new little one or ones. To those mornings you wake up and cant turn your head right or left…call your massage therapist! Headaches, neck tension from working at a computer for hours a day. Sciatic issues from sitting at a computer for hours of a days. I have even had clients come in with anxiety and depression see improvement of their symptoms. It can be helpful with digestive troubles like constipation. It can ease back pain and swelling due to pregnancy.
#8 What might happen to me after my massage?
(or, ‘Are there side effects?’ or, ‘How come I sometimes feel sick/sore/exhausted afterwards?’)
You may feel relaxed, refreshed, total relief or a reduction of pain, you might feel tired. Massage activates the lymphatic system which processes toxins in our bodies, so with this increase in activity of the lymph system it is important to hydrate post massage because massages are dehydrating. Massage improves circulation throughout the body, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes stress reduction and relaxation.
#9 My massage therapist always tells me to drink water after my massage. Why?
(or ‘Do I really have to?’)
The lymph system is activated with the contraction of muscles and massages work on the muscular level. The lymph system processes toxins stored in the tissues. Therefore it is dehydrating to the body. That’s why it is important to rehydrate with water post massage.
#9 Is there anything I can do to prevent/ease muscle knots and tension on my own?
Drink plenty of water, stretch regularly, self massage! Exercise, reduce stress – when we are stressed we contract our muscles….think of how your shoulders tend to creep up to your ears when in stressful situations or at the computer for long hours.
#10 Is there anything I should do to prepare for a massage?
Come with all your questions, concerns, goals.
#11 Is there any ailment that massage is good for that I might be surprised to learn?
Emotional stress/ depression/anxiety.