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Massage Therapy Grows as Tool to Pain Management

Jan 16, 2008
According to a survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Associatoin (AMTA), more people are receiving massage therapy for medical purposes than for relaxation. The survey also revealed that baby boomers have more massages than those who are younger, and are more likely to receive those massages for medical reasons.

"It's no surprise that people are turning to massage therapy to improve their wellness," said Dr. Leena S. Guptha, president of AMTA. "It's a proven way to manage pain, recover from injury, and improve one's quality of life, often reducing the need for medications or invasive treatments."

Almost one-third of Americans report they've used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief - just behind those who have turned to chiropractic (38%) and physical (44%) therapy. Those who have sought massage therapy for medical reasons report various reasons including pain management, injury recovery, soreness, general wellness, and control of headaches or migraines. The benefits of massage therapy are also being supported by a growing body of medical reports. A scholarly review published in the Julu 2007 issue of Evidence Based Complementary Medicine shows that professional massage therapy can be more effective than some other therapies in managing certain types of pain, especially lower back pain, shoulder discomfort, or headaches. The AMTA is quick to point out that it's important for consumers to find a professional massage therapist as the use of massage therapy increases.

Among those who have had a massage in the past five years, baby boomers had an average of just under 20 massages, while it averaged around 10 massages for those aged 18 to 44. It also appears that those from the immediate postwar generation tend to more often seek massage for their health conditions. Thirty-eight percent of those aged 45 to 64 said the massages they had received for medical reasons, while only 25 percent of people ages 18 to 44 cited massage as the reason for pain management.

In fact, of all people surveyed, 87 percent of the people agreed that massage can be effective in reducing pain and 85 percent agreed that massage can be beneficial to health and wellness. Only 39 percent of those surveyed believed that massage is "just for pampering."

This belief is echoed in the physician offices as well. One in five people indicated they have discussed massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers. Among those who have had that discussion, more than half said their doctors had "strongly recommended" or "encouraged" the use of massage for pain management and wellness.

When seeking help with pain, consumers have a choice of massage therapies to achieving a pain-free lifestyle. Trigger Point Therapy identifies a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may trigger pain in the neck. The neck reacts as a satellite trigger point, causing pain in the head. These trigger points are caused by overuse or injury. Trigger Point Massage uses an isolated pressure and release technique. In this type of massage, the recipient participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact source and intensity of the pain. Through the Trigger Point method, toxins are released from the muscles, while endorphins are also released, helping to relieve the affected area.

Deep Tissue Massage is used to target knots and release chronic muscle tension. This technique also helps to reduce inflammation and reduce scar tissue. The focus is on the deepest layers of the muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia. Using strokes across the grain of the muscles and deep finger pressure, the recipient may experience some soreness that lasts a couple of days before resulting in relaxation and pain relief.

Used in the relief of tension headaches, arthritis, and back pain, Reflexology is a type of massage that focuses solely on the hands and feet that uses targeted points on the extremities to send signals to the brain and balance the nervous system. During the treatment, endorphins are released, reducing stress and returning the body to equilibrium.

The most popular form of massage, Swedish Massage was developed in Stockholm several centuries ago and is the best-known type of bodywork performed today. Rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes using mineral-essential oils allows the entire body to relax as blood returns to the heart. This form of massage is ideal for increasing oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, and improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

"Healthcare providers and consumers are finding out what professional massage therapists have always understood that massage is not only relaxing, but also an important tool for pain management and overall wellness," said Dr. Guptha.
About the Author
Geologix Inc. manufactures products using a proprietary formula featuring 34 natural minerals contained in the ancient sea water from the famous Michigan Basin -- a concentration of minerals higher than that found in any known body of water in the world. Mineral Essentials focuses on spa, skin care, and massage products to moisturize and provide anti-aging protection for great skin. Mineral Essentials, and Acheaway
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