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Therapeutic Benefits of Massage – More than meets the Muscle


Massage is one of the oldest arts of healing – there are Chinese records dating back 3,000 years documenting its use! Well, just because it has been practiced for 3000 years, is that enough to warrant its clinical use today? Thankfully, research has helped shed some light on the benefits of massage and although some of the exact mechanisms of action are yet to be defined, studies have provided quite a strong case of evidence supporting its use. Interestingly, the therapeutic benefits of massage have been found to extend much more than originally anticipated.

Massage is more than just the muscle

Massage is now very much an accepted part of many rehabilitation programs following injury. It has also proven beneficial in the ongoing management and maintenance of many chronic conditions, including arthritis.

Over the last 3000 years, we have learnt there are a significant number of potential benefits of massage that extend beyond release muscular tension and relieve pain. Not only does massage help to physically improve circulation and promote faster healing of damaged tissues and increase joint flexibility, it has many benefits on mental well-being also.

Some of the non-muscular benefits of massage can include:

  • decreased stress
  • reduced mental and physical fatigue
  • reduced anxiety
  • improved concentration
  • promoting better sleep

Types of massage

Just as there are varied benefits of massage, there are different techniques that can be used. These techniques differ both in their implementation and the potential therapeutic benefits they produce. A few techniques often used in sports medicine and injury management include¹:

  • effleurage (stroking)
  • petrissage (kneading)
  • tapotement (percussion)
  • frictions
  • vibrations
  • trigger point release

These different strategies are all believed to work via different avenues in order to prepare the muscle for the increased physical demands of the athlete.

Although there are many practitioners out there that claim to be able to provide massage, it is important to know not all are created equal. It may not seem like a complicated task, but there is method to the mayhem. To maximise the benefits and reduce any potential risks ensure that you only trust a rained professional to provide your massage. As part of our physiotherapy training, we gain a detailed and in depth understanding of anatomy, and cover the best techniques to use on your potentially injured tissues.

Regardless of the sort of massage you have (pampering or therapeutic), or the reasons you seek it out (stress relief or pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.

So why not book a massage with one of our physiotherapists today?!

Further reading:

  1. Moraska, A. (2005). Sports massage: A comprehensive review. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 45 (3); 370-380


Vatche Douzmanian


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