How massages are good for your health

By Phil "Superman" Johnson, CPT

If you have never had a massage you have missed something beneficial to your body and health.

Unfortunately most of the upscale gyms and health spas don’t offer the luxury of a massage. Especially in the older days most of the gyms I went to in California didn’t offer massage therapy. Even the gyms I worked at as a personal trainer back in the 80’s and 90’s didn’t offer massage. It wasn’t until after 1996 that those gyms offered that luxury. Well, at least in the gyms I went to in California.

I took advantage of the gyms that offered it and had massages for sore and tired muscles. I used it for injuries and it actually helped me out quite a bit. It helped me to recover quickly from soreness in my muscles and joints.

When I had surgery to my chest from a torn pectoral muscle, a massage helped to heal my scar tissue. I would highly recommend massage therapy to everyone.

Massage is a soothing and relaxing therapy. It is generally a term for pressing.

A licensed masseuse or massage therapist is a person who performs the method. It is a method of rubbing and manipulating your skin, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Massage therapist use their hands, feet, fingers, forearms, and elbows from light massaging to deep pressure techniques. There are different types of massages too.

First there is the sport massage. This is a massage geared towards athletes to help heal injuries associated with sports activities. It also helps prevents certain injuries from happening.

This is the massage I often use because of the power lifting, martial arts, and boxing I have been involved in.

This massage is similar to a Swedish massage. A Swedish massage is a massage that uses long strokes, deep circular movements, kneading, and vibration and tapping to help relax and energize certain muscles in your body. I benefited greatly from this type of massage.

Next there is the deep tissue massage which uses a slower and more forceful and aggressive stroke to isolate and target the deeper layers of muscle and tissue around the muscle. This massage is primarily used to help repair damaged muscle from injuries or surgery. I also had this type of massage and it helped me rehabilitate my torn surgically repaired pectoral muscle.

The last massage I would like to talk about is called a trigger point massage. This technique targets trigger points and sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that is formed in your muscles after overuse of that muscle or injuries to that muscle. This is my least favorite because it does hurt a lot more than the others I mentioned.

Although the uncomfortable pain associated with this technique it is in fact beneficial in helping your muscle fibers. In all reality a good massage should not be painful or uncomfortable. The pain I am talking about is the soreness associated with it the next day.

The benefits you gain from massages from various researches found that they can be helpful to relieve stress, pain, stiffness, blood pressure control, sports-related injuries, cancer treatment, boosting immunity, and managing anxiety and depression.

Massage is also considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It has been used with standard treatment for many medical conditions and situations. Massages are beneficial for specific conditions or diseases.

Massages are very enjoyable because it involves caring, comfort, and a sense of empowerment. It creates a connection with your massage and your therapist. I do urge that massage is in no way a replacement for your regular medical care. You should consult your doctor about a massage for you. According to your medical condition your doctor may advise against it.

Things to remember: Massages are safe and performed by several types of health care professionals like an occupational therapist, physical therapist, and massage therapist. Your doctor can recommend one for you.

Almost all states regulate massage therapist by licensing them, and require them to have certification. I have some friends who are massage therapist and have their own businesses. They are indeed qualified. I also send my family to them.

When looking for one, make sure you ask them if they are licensed, certified, or registered. Ask them about their training and experience. Ask them how many sessions are required for you. Ask them what they charge, and if it’s covered by your health insurance. Massages are usually 15 to 90 minutes long depending on the type of massage you need and the time you have available.

Massages start off light but increases in its intensity depending on the type of massage. If it is too uncomfortable or painful let the therapist know. Again, consult your doctor to see if a massage is safe for you.

Massages are not for everybody especially if they have cancer, blood clots, fractures, recent surgeries, burns or open wounds, if they are pregnant, internal bleeding, or nerve damage. Those are just a few of the reasons.

Use massage as another health tool to stay fit and in shape. Use it to be pain free and to avoid certain injuries. Use it to stay fit for life!

Phillip Johnson is a Madison Weekly columnist and Certified Personal Trainer working at Empire Fitness on Hwy 72 in Madison. He works with clients of every age and fitness level. For a free consultation call Phillip at (951) 970-7635.