The Benefits of Massage and How You Can Get It

Date Published: September 30, 2022

What is Massage Therapy?

As described in the previous blog “What is Physical Therapy?,” a physical therapist is a movement expert. Physical therapists incorporate hands-on work and specific exercises in an attempt to educate people on postural and movement habits and how the way they move in everyday life can or can’t contribute to injury. Unlike a physical therapist, a massage therapist focuses solely on direct manipulation of muscles and soft tissues. Within massage therapy, there are several different types of tissue manipulation. The most well-known include Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Sports massage:

  • Swedish Massage
    Swedish massage is normally what people picture when they go to a spa. It consists of smooth gliding strokes to promote improved circulation and relaxation. The pressure is always adjusted to the individual client. Swedish massage can be especially helpful for people looking to reduce stress and improve sleep. (Activates your parasympathetic nervous system giving you sensations of rest and relaxation)
  • Deep Tissue Massage
    Deep Tissue massage targets deep into the layers of muscles and fascia to release adhesions (knots) and tension. This kind of massage often uses friction and very slow compressions and strokes, as it takes time to melt into those deeper tissue layers. Deep Tissue massage can still be relaxing, but this is not the main goal. Instead, the focus is to reduce muscle pain/tightness, improve stiffness, break up scar tissue, and rehabilitate injured muscles. (Activates parasympathetic nervous system)
  • Sports Massage
    Sports massage targets very specific areas and uses techniques that “wake up” the muscles and nervous system including fast and vigorous cross-fiber techniques. Unlike Swedish and Deep Tissue, this type of massage activates the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”). Because this type of massage is invigorating, it is best used right before or right after exercise to get the muscles fired up and ready to perform (before exercise) or release immediate tension (after exercise). However, sports massage can be beneficial even if it is not performed directly before or after intense activity. This ultimately results in “activating” the body system rather than “relaxing” it.

At Accelerate Physical Therapy, we firmly believe that massage therapy and physical therapy go hand in hand. Massage therapy complements physical therapy in many ways. Much of physical therapy treatment includes manual therapy (hands-on), movement retraining, education and exercises as part of an individualized treatment plan. The manual therapy attempts to reduce pain, improve tissue extensibility (i.e. length of tissue), improve blood flow, increase range of motion, and heal injured and involved tissues such as muscle or fascia among many others. Our clients who prefer more “hands-on” before or after they complete physical therapy treatment are ideal candidates for massage therapy, as there is much overlap amongst the two. Most notably with chronic and long-standing injuries, massage therapy can be an excellent way to maintain the gains and improvements made in physical therapy treatment. This can also buy you more wiggle room when attempting to increase physical activity and recreational activity, thus preventing you from seeing a physical therapist somewhere down the road! Overall, massage therapy is a great supplement for clients receiving physical therapy treatment who are looking to accelerate (pun not intended) their treatment.

Some Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Helps with sore muscles

  • Facilitates recovery from injury

  • Eases pain

  • Breaks up scar tissue

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Improves range of motion

  • Alleviates pain from stiff joints

  • Boosts immunity (increases white blood cell count)

  • Reduces headaches/migraines

  • Improves circulation

  • Reduces stress

  • Helps anxiety/depression

  • Relieves insomnia/sleep disturbance

  • Alleviates menopause symptoms

  • Lessens PMS

  • Promotes healthy skin elasticity

Schedule an Appointment

Schedule a 45-minute one on one session with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy and get started on your path to recovery.