What are the benefits of massage?
Massage is generally considered part of integrative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
Massage benefits can include:
- Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
- Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension
- Improving circulation, energy and alertness
- Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
- Improving immune function
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Low back pain
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Nerve pain
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
- Upper back and neck pain
What are the risks of massage?
Most people can benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate if you have:
- Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
- Burns or healing wounds
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Broken bones (fractures)
- Severe osteoporosis
- A very low platelet count (severe thrombocytopenia)
Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage.
What types of massage do you offer?
- Relaxation Massage. This massage is a smooth, gentle treatment that relieves muscular tension, increases circulation, and promotes a general sense of relaxation. This massage is performed using Swedish techniques consisting of long, rhythmic strokes and small circular movements which help to break down adhesions and promote better circulation. Unlike deep tissue massages, a relaxation massage does not address the connective tissue of the muscles. It is not intended to treat sports injuries or other discomfort and is instead used to reduce muscle tension while bringing the body back to a relaxed state. Many people seek relaxation massage treatments after a long week at work or to help improve their mental health.
- Deep Tissue massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. It’s commonly used to help with muscle damage from injuries.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy. It’s used to help you relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues throughout your body.
During a hot stone massage, smooth, flat, heated stones are placed on specific parts of your body. The stones are usually made of basalt, a type of volcanic rock that retains heat. According to the University of New Hampshire Health Services, hot massage stones are heated to between 130 and 145 degrees.
The stones may be placed:
- along your spine
- on your stomach
- on your chest
- on your face
- on your palms
- on your feet and toes
Massage therapists may hold heated stones as they massage your body using Swedish massage techniques such as:
- long strokes
- circular movements
Sometimes, cold stones are also used during a hot stone massage. Cold stones may be used after hot stones to calm any engorged blood vessels and to soothe the skin.
What are the benefits of hot stone massage?
All massages generally fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. They’re becoming a popular complementary therapy for many conditions. Here are some advantages of getting a hot stone massage:
1. Helps relieve muscle tension and pain
Heat has long been used to ease muscle tension and pain. It helps increase blood flow to the affected area. It may also reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion. Cold therapy helps relieve inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, alternating hot and cold stones during your massage may be helpful.
2. Reduces stress and anxiety
It’s the position of the American Massage Therapy Association that “massage therapy can be effective for stress relief.” Research supports their opinion. A 2001 study showed that a ten-minute massage improved cardiovascular responses such as stroke volume. A 1997 study found that 15-minute, onsite chair massages in the workplace significantly reduced stress compared to a 15-minute break without massage.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source found that people who underwent abdominal colorectal surgery had less pain, tension, and anxiety after receiving post- operative massage.
3. Promotes sleep
A 2006 literature review found massage may be an alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. The research showed that back massage helped promote relaxation and sleep. A 2001 study showed that infants with sleep problems who were given a 15-minute massage by their parents went to sleep faster. They were also more alert, active, and positive upon awakening. Massage is thought to help you enjoy more restorative sleep, although it’s not completely understood why.
4. May help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases
Hot stone massage may relieve painful conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread, chronic pain. According to a 2002 study, people with fibromyalgia who received a 30-minute massage slept longer, had fewer trigger points, and had decreased levels of substance P (a substance involved in transmitting pain signals) than people with the condition who received relaxation therapy. More research is needed, however, before massage becomes a standard fibromyalgia treatment.
A 2013 studyTrusted Source found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from a moderate-pressure massage, such as hot stone massage. Participants in the study experienced less pain, greater grip strength, and a greater range of motion after one month of massage therapy.
5. May help decrease cancer symptoms
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined how massage affected pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer. The study showed massage, especially Swedish massage, improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role.
6. May boost immunity
Massage may give your immune system a boost. According to a 2010 studyTrusted Source, a single session of Swedish massage therapy had a positive and acute impact on immunity. Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed a decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention.
What are the risks and warnings associated with hot stone massage?
Consult your doctor before getting a massage if you have:
- a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners
- burns on your skin
- open wounds
- a history of blood clots
- had surgery in the last 6 weeks
- a fracture or severe osteoporosis
- a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage, relieves swelling that happens when medical treatment or illness blocks your lymphatic system. Lymphatic drainage massage involves gently manipulating specific areas of your body to help lymph move to an area with working lymph vessels.
How are lymphatic drainage massages done?
A lymphatic drainage massage is a two-step process:
- Clearing: This step releases lymphatic fluid in your tissues.
- Reabsorption: This step moves your lymphatic fluid to your lymph nodes.
What are some conditions that can benefit from lymphatic drainage massage?
Lymphatic drainage massages are often used to relieve lymphedema following breast cancer surgery. Other conditions that benefit from lymphatic drainage massages are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This is ongoing arthritis in your joints causing joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
- Fibromyalgia: This condition causes chronic muscle and joint pain.
- Chronic venous insufficiency: This happens when your leg veins aren’t working effectively, making it hard for your blood to return to your heart from your legs.
- Lipedema: This happens when excess fat accumulates in your lower body, blocking your lymphatic pathway and causing lymphedema.
Are there any risks associated with lymphatic drainage massage?
Generally speaking, lymphatic drainage massage is a safe treatment to relieve lymphedema. There are some conditions and circumstances where lymphatic drainage massage is not recommended:
- You have a heart condition.
- You have kidney failure.
- You have blood clots.
- You have an infection.
Will lymphatic drainage massages make my lymphedema go away?
You might not see immediate results from lymphatic drainage massages. If you have several sessions without result, ask your healthcare provider about alternative treatments.
What happens if I’m feeling sick after a lymphatic drainage massage?
Few people have negative reactions to lymphatic drainage massage. Some people, however, complain of headaches, nausea and fatigue. When that happens, you should ask your healthcare provider about managing your side effects.
People have used cupping for thousands of years to ease back pain, neck pain, headaches and other problems. Cupping therapy involves creating a suction force to pull blood into the skin.
What is cupping?
Cupping is an ancient healing therapy that some people use to ease pain. A provider places cups on your back, stomach, arms, legs or other parts of your body. Inside the cup, a vacuum or suction force pulls skin upward.
Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese and Middle Eastern medicine. People have practiced cupping therapy for thousands of years.
How does cupping work?
Experts are still exploring how cupping eases pain and disease symptoms. There isn’t a lot of research on the therapy.
Suction from cupping draws fluid into the treated area. This suction force expands and breaks open tiny blood vessels (capillaries) under the skin. Your body treats the cupping area like an injury. It sends more blood to the area to stimulate the natural healing process. Some people theorize that cupping clears the pores and releases toxins.
What does cupping treat?
People mostly use cupping to relieve conditions that cause pain. Some people say it also helps with chronic (ongoing) health issues. Cupping may ease symptoms of:
- Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Back pain, neck pain, knee pain and shoulder pain.
- Breathing problems, such as asthma.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD).
- Headaches and migraines.
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
How is cupping performed?
There are different ways to perform cupping. The steps vary slightly depending on the chosen method. Your provider will leave the cups in place for several minutes. Some treatments involve briefly moving the cups to stretch and massage the area.
Depending on the treatment, your provider may place multiple cups on your skin. Cupping methods include:
- Dry: Your provider heats the inside of each cup — typically with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball that is set aflame. The heat sends oxygen out of the cup, creating a vacuum. Some providers use a suction device to remove air from cups. Once placed on your skin, the vacuum force pulls skin up into the cup.
- Wet: Your provider uses a needle to lightly puncture your skin before, and sometimes after, cupping. Toxins leave the body through the puncture wounds during the cupping procedure.
What should I expect after cupping?
The suction force from cupping breaks open tiny blood vessels under the skin. You will have round bruise-like marks that fade in a week or two.
What are potential risks or complications of cupping?
Cupping is a relatively low-risk therapy. Still, you may experience:
- Burns from heated cups.
- Muscle tension or soreness.
- Skin infections, itching or scarring.
Who shouldn’t get cupping?
Because researchers know little about cupping’s effects on pregnancy, moms-to-be shouldn’t get the therapy. You should also forego cupping if you have:
- Bleeding disorders like hemophilia.
- Blood clotting problems, such as deep vein thrombosis or history of strokes.
- Skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis.
- Seizures (epilepsy).
When should I call the doctor?
You should call your healthcare provider if you get cupping and experience:
- Extreme pain or soreness.
- Fever or other signs of skin infection (redness, tenderness, yellow discharge).