Massage therapy is well-known for relieving stress and promoting relaxation. It also has been shown to provide a number of health and performance benefits for exercisers, including improving range of motion and muscle flexibility, and shortening recovery time between workouts.
Until most people experience massage, they typically don’t realize how tight and sore their muscles have become. When under stress, our muscles tense up, producing an achy feeling in the neck and back.
A few of the many types of massage include:
This is a mild and gentle form of stretching that helps relieve muscle tissue from the abnormal grip of tight fascia (connective tissue). The fascia system is a densely woven sheet of connective tissue that lines and covers nearly every muscle, bone, nerve, vein and organ. Fascia tightens and becomes thicker when there is inflammation, trauma and tension.
This form of massage is a combination of different techniques and applied with comfortable pressure using hands, knees elbows or feet, allowing the body to be gently stretched to loosen joints and muscles.
This is designed to energize through increased blood circulation and provides a better overall feeling. Typically a full body massage, it involves friction and joint rotations, kneading and tapping of the muscles and soft tissue using long strokes, enhancing circulation while promoting relaxation.
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system — comprising the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.
MASSAGE AT HOME
To treat yourself to a massage at home, there are products on the market that allow you to do just that. Thera-Band has created a variety of high quality massagers suitable for home use, designed to help you work on specific muscle groups and areas of the body. For less than $10, the Thera-Band Foot Roller provides temporary relief from tired, achy feet associated with common conditions and excess activity. Compact enough to easily pack when traveling or tuck into your gym bag, the Thera-Band Foot Roller can be chilled or frozen to help reduce inflammation or pain, and is flexible, so conforms to the shape of the foot. For more information on Thera-Band massage products, visit www.performancehealth.com or www.thera-band.com.
WHEN TO CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
There are some instances in which massage can be contraindicated (such as when joints are inflamed) and with certain forms of cancer, phlebitis, certain cardiac problems, infectious diseases and some skin conditions, so check with your doctor if in doubt. One cleared, your massage therapist can help determine which type of massage is right for you.
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