Massage can do many things. On a “healthy” person, it can increase movement, flexibility, and relaxation by decreasing stress. On the other hand, an “unhealthy” person (which could be the result of an accident, injury, or disability), can also have these effects as well just at different rates of progression.
Massage can help to reduce pain by targeting the nociceptive (painful) nerve firings in the body. Anything from a constant muscle contraction, or fascial restriction, to reduced blood flow can cause this. Once the blood flow has been increased to the area, pain should start to decrease.
In regards to circulation, massage can have short or long term effects. This depends on the amount of pressure used during the treatment. Usually a lighter pressure will only have short term effects on increasing the blood circulation. If there is swelling in an area, massage can help to increase the circulation of fluids around it by a technique called Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). This is a lighter pressure treatment but has been proven to be very successful.
Should I use ice or heat?
By applying heat, there is a temporary increase in local blood flow to the surrounding skin and muscle tissue. It also decreases nerve conduction which reduces pain. Heat should not be used with any acute injury, acute inflammations, and burns.
By applying ice, the temperature of the skin is reduced and blood flow is decreased. This can also decrease pain and muscle spasms. Ice should not be used if you have Raynaud’s disease, or any circulatory problems.
IIce and heat can be used together in a contrast method. The most common ratio for this is 3 minutes of hot to one minute of cold. Always end with a cold application.
Can I still get a massage while I am pregnant?
Yes. Massage has been shown to be very useful during and after pregnancy. During the first few months of pregnancy, you will be able to lay on your stomach. If this is uncomfortable for you, the therapist can either apply extra pillows (if they are not using a pregnancy pillow). Or have you lay on your side. Your Blood Pressure may be taken at the beginning (and possibly the end) of your treatments if you are experiencing any problems with it during your pregnancy.
No deep pressure can be applied to the low back, or around the ankle and wrist joints during treatments until you are around 38 weeks (approximately) pregnant to reduce the risk of premature labour. These area’s can still be worked out with light pressure. Belly massage is a great way to end your treatment. It allows you to relax, and any of the muscles around the stomach to get relaxed as well.