People love to pamper themselves with a day at the spa that includes an hour-long massage. Maybe you’ve been on vacation and had a massage overlooking the beach or on the deck of a cruise ship.
Yes, massage definitely provides a sense of relaxation. But therapeutic massage, the type of massage we offer with every treatment at Natural Healthcare Center, has scientifically proven benefits that go far beyond enjoying a relaxing hour of “me time.”
First, we have to understand what’s happening from a physiological perspective during a therapeutic massage. As the soft tissue in our bodies – the muscles, skin, tendons and ligaments – are rubbed, pressed and manipulated, blood circulation and lymphatic flow are stimulated. The stress relief you experience is caused by a replenishing of oxygen and nutrients in the cells.
This not only helps the targeted muscle, joint or problem area, but it also has a downstream effect, improving the function of the various systems in our bodies, including the immune system, nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system and endocrine system.
Therapeutic massage is one component of holistic health, or functional medicine, an approach to medicine that views the human body as a network of connected systems. The goal is to restore functionality and health by correcting imbalances that cause disease and illness, although therapeutic massage is often viewed from a musculoskeletal perspective.
Chiropractic care works on the same wavelength. Chiropractors use the spine to restore balance in the various systems of the body. In fact, scientific research has shown that a chiropractic adjustment from a specially trained professional can impact every system in the body.
Prior to a chiropractic adjustment or any treatment visit at Natural Healthcare Center – from sciatica to rotator cuff syndrome – therapeutic massage is performed on the patient. This helps the muscles and those downstream systems better prepare for the adjustment. Most importantly, it helps to provide patients with more thorough treatment, which leads to better outcomes.
The need for massage increases as we get older due to muscle dehydration and stiffness. Think about those at-home mirror tests. Why is it that a 15-year-old can easily complete a series of squats, but a 55-year-old wobbles and falls down? In addition to having a great deal of muscular imbalance, the 55-year-old is so darn stiff!
This is why at-home mirror tests are important. They expose muscular and functional imbalances in the body. Stimulating the muscles with therapeutic massage is a great way to prep the body for physical therapy that improves the stability, strength and flexibility that are necessary to restore balance and pass those mirror tests.
Therapeutic massage can also be used to treat a number of specific conditions and diseases. Lymphatic massage, which specifically targets the lymphatic system, enhances the immune system and is often part of a treatment program for cancer and autoimmune disease. Pregnancy massage promotes muscular relaxation, and studies have shown that women who undergo massage during pregnancy tend to have smoother deliveries.
Other conditions that can be improved with therapeutic massage include:
Let me be clear about one thing. I have nothing against a massage at a spa. Everyone deserves a little pampering and the massages at these establishments offer many of the same benefits as therapeutic massage.
That said, the health benefits of a targeted therapeutic massage performed by a highly qualified, licensed therapist go far beyond any isolated health issue. It’s just one more tool in our shed – part of an integrated approach to health and wellness that my entire team and I believe in so strongly.
In future posts, I’ll discuss how and why massage is used to treat specific conditions. If there is a condition you would like me to address, please comment here or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.