What is massage therapy and what is it for?

At the beginning of this month we are going to talk about massage therapy. For some this word sounds a little strange, let’s see first what it means: it is the union of the words maso “massage” and therapy “treatment”, reason why the masotherapy is the use of the massage to treat or to cure pathologies.

Massage therapy is used in the rehabilitation processes of a large number of pathologies. It is one more tool that the physiotherapist has in his rehabilitation case. If the objective is therapeutic (to treat an injury), it can only be carried out by a duly qualified physiotherapist.

On the other hand, if it is a relaxing or sports massage in which there is no previous injury, it can also be performed by chiropractors.

The massage is applied to soft parts (muscles, organs and, in isolated cases, tendons, as in the application of the Ciryax technique). The aim of the massage can be to decontract, relax or to facilitate circulation due to edema.

Within the masoterapia we can find of diverse types:

Sports massage: massage aimed at people who practice sport. We find 3 types

  • Pre-competition massage: This type of massage is used to prepare the athlete for the competition.
  • Post-competition massage: Helps reduce fatigue caused by competition and relax the muscles.
  • Treatment of injuries: It tries to recover different pathologies with sprains, cramps, contractures, inflammations, etc.

In sports massage, myofascial self-releasing massage has recently become fashionable. It consists of using a foam roller and sliding the area to be treated by this roller in order to disengage the fascia (tissue that surrounds the musculature). In this way the muscle is less stressed and improves its functionality.

Relaxing massage: it is used to relax and thus be able to overcome a day of stress or disconnect, releasing endorphins and eliminating tension.

Therapeutic massage: due to an injury, massage is used to relieve pain and improve mobility. The objective is to recover normal activities of daily life.

Aesthetic massage: it serves to eliminate toxins from the skin and eliminate the secretions of the sebaceous glands and reaffirm the skin. One of the most common aesthetic massages is the treatment of cellulite.

Before starting a massage session it is important that the patient is comfortable and relaxed, normally will be stretched on the stretcher. The professional who gives it usually uses oil or cream for massage, to facilitate the work of the hands and prevent the rubbing cause rubbing on the skin of the patient.

The therapist will smear the hands with the oil or cream, never throw it on the patient’s skin and will rub the hands so that the same and the cream take temperature and the patient does not have a cold sensation that could make him uncomfortable.

Massage Effects

The massage due to its characteristics of action, creates a series of effects in different zones of the body that now we will pass to see:

  • Skin. The action of the hands on the skin causes it to be stimulated, increasing vasodilatation of the existing capillaries in the area of the massage. This increases the temperature of the treated tissues between 2 and 3ÂșC. This heat makes it easier for the tissues to relax and soften and thus facilitates the elasticity of the skin.
  • Circulatory system. The pressure exerted by the massage therapy increases the blood supply to the treated area, this helps to oxygenate the area and eliminate waste products from the cells.
  • Muscular system. The massage stimulates the muscle fibers, increasing and improving their activity. In the same way as in the skin, the muscle capillaries also react to massage by providing more nutrients to the muscle cells. In the same way, it is also possible to relax the contracted or tension muscles.
  • Osteoarticular system. By relaxing and improving the muscular and skin dynamics, it is possible to indirectly improve the mobility of the joints by increasing the range of joint movement (ROM).
  • Nervous system. As mentioned before, the excitability of the muscular fibre increases, thanks to the improved connections between the muscles and the nervous system (synapses).
  • Digestive system. The massage on the abdomen, helps to improve intestinal motility (action performed by the intestines to absorb nutrients and expel waste).

Indications

Next we are going to see which are some of the main indications to use the masoterapia like treatment:

  • Reduction of pain especially in traumatic injuries such as sprains, blows, falls, tendon alterations, etc..
  • To help in the mental and physical relaxation.
  • Improve blood circulation in the treatment of varicose veins, venous return problems, absorption of hematomas, etc.
  • Maintain muscle tone by stimulating muscle fibers, avoiding atrophy (in bedridden patients, for example)

Finally, to finish this entry, remind you that you must always follow your therapist’s instructions, respect the recovery and treatment times, and your therapist must be duly qualified.