Whether it's Swedish, deep tissue, Shiatzu, hot stone or Rolfing, there are many different types of touch therapy. In this
video, icyou's Medical Editor, Dr. Mona Khanna, explains the why's and why not's of massage therapy.
Tags:Learn about Massage Therapy,Benefits of Massage,health advice,health tips,icyou,massage therapy 101,massage therapy benefits,therapeutic massage information
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Rebecca Fox: Some people swear by having frequent massages others have never had one in their entire life, whether it’s Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, hot stone, Rolfing or there are many different types of touch therapy. icyou’s medical Dr. Mona Khanna joins us now with a whys and why not of massage therapy.
Dr. Mona we know massages feel good, but are there proven health benefits?
Dr. Mona Khanna: Okay, well the first thing I got to do with full disclosure, I am a massage enthusiast. I get anywhere from between one and four massages a month. So having that said, I will tell you that when I was doing my research for this piece I was actually shocked at the proven health benefits. And when I say proven I mean massage benefits that have shown to have a difference in medical outcomes.
Now, some of the things we know it does is it can decrease lower back pain, it increases circulation, it helps stretch the muscles and therefore increases range of motion and flexibility. It can decrease swelling and adhesions especially after surgery. Adhesion are when the tissues kind of come together. It can decrease spasms, cramps and migraine pains, certain medical conditions that respond very well in some cases to massages.
Patients with asthma can have increase airflow in their lungs. Patients with back pain can have relief of the back pain. Burn patients actually feel less pain and less itching with routine massages. People with high blood pressure have been shown to have decreases in their blood pressure over the long term with massages. Patients with PMS have decrease of cramps and decrease of bloating and water retention. Patients with arthritis have better joint movement, and preterm babies that are born before their full gestational age they have actually been shown to be able to respond very well physically and heal better, as well as psychologically be more responsive at later ages to massage.
Now these are the things that I just told you that are basically proven through studies and research. What we suspect but has not been per se are that massage therapy can help decrease your stress, decrease depression, decrease anxiety, maybe decrease scar tissue as it decreases adhesions, decrease stretch mark and fatigue, increase your energy level through a substance called serotonin increase the way you feel about yourself and increase your quality of sleep. So I know those are very, very long list but just to show you massage isn’t just about feeling good it actually has medical benefits as well.
Rebecca Fox: Dr. Mona you sold me on this. Is there any way to get the health benefits without spending a lot of money?
Dr. Mona Khanna: Yeah, we hear that a lot. It’s very difficult for people to be able to get regular massages. So there are some techniques though. The first thing is check your health insurance. If your health insurance has chiropractic coverage the vast majority or chiropractors have a massage therapist on staff and that could be covered through health insurance. You may have to pay a co-pay but it will be a fraction of what you would normally pay for a full massage.
If you want to have a massage at a spa you typically can buy series. For example you buy six you get one free. That’s another way of cutting down the cost of each individual massage. Because we have these proven medical outcomes that I just mentioned to you especially for those people with certain medical conditions we are finding now that hospitals and even health programs are starting to incorporate massage therapy into their treatment plans and prevention plans. So for example neonatal intensive care units, they are now starting to employ massage on a regular basis for the neonates that as I’ve said earlier were born pre-term.
Other programs that are starting to integrate touch would be hospice programs, pain programs, and programs for patients who have had surgery because the healing seems a little bit calmer, a little bit faster the pain seems to go down and burn units as I’ve mentioned. So if you have any of those conditions you can ask about massage therapy for those conditions.
And the last of all probably the least appealing but still important is to massage yourself. Now, what I mean by that is if you commute and have heavy commute time let’s say an hour and half or two hours to get to work in the morning and then to get back home in the evening and you find yourself gripping the steering wheel, when you finish that you can easily massage your forearms and give yourself a little bit of a break that way and stretch your hands and your fingers.
For people who work in offices, who do a lot of computer work, we find that these muscles the forearms get very tensed. So if you can take a break during the day perhaps during lunch, perhaps during one of your regular and just kind of massage this area here. I mean it sounds so simple but it’s so beneficial. It’s beneficial first of all to take a break and alternate task, but it’s additionally beneficial to do a little bit of massage yourself even possibly while you’re eating lunch.
Rebecca Fox: And we can always try to get our significant others to do a little massage too.
Dr. Mona Khanna: Absolutely. And you know what it’s even better to marry one. Marry a massage therapist.
Rebecca Fox: Good idea. So how often should someone get a massage to receive those health benefits?
Dr. Mona Khanna: Well the best thing to do is take your queues from your own body and the first one obviously, “wow I feel great I want to get it every month or so.” So take your queues from your bodies about how you feel. You shouldn’t be in pain after you leave a massage. Personally, I like a very, very firm very deep tissue massage, it’s uncomfortable but I find I reap the benefits afterwards like for example starting the next day. So if you find you’re in pain though a day or so after having the massage then you may be having the wrong type of massage or you may be having them too frequently.
You may want to titrate your massages to when you feel them in terms of stress level, when the holiday comes around you know everybody is going to be additionally stressful along the holidays you may want to schedule a massage in advance around the holiday so you can get the full benefits of it. When you know you have increase family pressure. If a family reunion is coming up, if you're going on vacation and there are a lot of things to do beforehand and you feel amount of stress.
So you want to take your queues from your body first of all in terms of kind of relief that you get. And secondly, schedule it around times that you know are going to be high stressed, high pressure situations for you.
Rebecca Fox: With so many different type of massage out there though, how do I know which type is the best for me?
Dr. Mona Khanna: This is just really by trial and error. Unless you have one of the medical conditions that I mentioned earlier and your physician or the massage therapist him or herself can recommend a certain type of massage for you. It really is trial and error. For example shiatsu massage I find that that’s a little too extreme for me and I've tried it, but I don’t like it. So personally, I just do it on trial and error and that’s what I tell patients and others who are interested in going to massages try several different ones, and continue with the one that works best for you or alternate them if you find you like more than one.
Rebecca Fox: I know what I will be doing for the next month. Thank you very much Dr. Mona we appreciate it. And you can find many more strategies for a massage and stress reduction on icyou.com. For iceyou on topics I’m Rebecca Fox.
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