The history of massage therapy dates back thousands of years and most are aware of the claims that a massage can ease muscle pain, tension, reduce stress, improve range of motion and can even help with depression and anxiety. But does it really work? which type of massage is best for you and does massage therapy help deal with symptoms of fibromyalgia? These are some questions I will attempt to answer in this short article on massage therapy for fibromyalgia. First, what exactly is massage therapy?
What is Massage Therapy?
Using their hands, a Registered Massage Therapist (RTM) manipulates the soft tissues of the body including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints using varying degrees of movement and pressure. A Registered Massage Therapist is someone who has received formal hands on training in giving massages.
According to the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario, massage therapy can be used as a treatment for both acute and chronic conditions. RMTs work with a wide variety of patients in the treatment of illness, injury rehabilitation and disability.
In Canada, provincial healthcare plans such as OHIP, AHCIP and MSI provide coverage for medically necessary services only. As a result, most registered massage therapy is not covered by public healthcare, unless it is administered in a hospital and required for the recovery of a patient. Without personal coverage, the cost of a massage can range between $50-$150.
What Are Some Benefits of Massage Therapy?
Message therapy can offer relief or help manage many conditions including:
• Tension headaches
• Varicose Veins
• Over used muscles
• Muscle injuries
Different Types of Messages
There are several types of massage that focus on different parts of the body. Not every type of massage, however, is right for everyone. Here are five of the most common types of massages, see whether they interest you.
This type of massage is great for those who are new to massage therapy. People who experience a great deal of pain and tenderness from fibromyalgia or from other sources may prefer a gentler massage such as this one. A Swedish massage is very relaxing and is ideal for those looking to release tension, de-stress and improve sleep.
Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage is designed to relieve pain and tension from the deepest layers of your muscles, hence the name. For this reason, it uses more pressure than a Swedish massage and is a good option for those that are seeking relief from chronic muscle tightness, pain or injury. This may not be a suitable massage if you are sensitive to pressure as many with fibromyalgia are.
Not too crazy about the idea of being even partially naked and having your entire body rubbed down by a stranger, but still want to enjoy the relaxation benefits of a massage? Then reflexology may be for you. Reflexology methods use gentle to firm pressure on different pressure points on the hands, feet and ears.
This is definitely a more active form of massage which include various movements, stretching and a firm pressure. Thai is designed to reduce pain and stress as well as increase circulation and energy levels. This also makes it great for diabetics or those wanting to increase flexibility. You can also be fully clothed with this type of massage.
This is a Japanese type of massage that uses a light to moderate pulsing pressure and is best for people who want to feel relaxed, relieve pain and experience an overall feeling of calmness. Shiatsu may be especially beneficial for those who suffer from headaches, depression, sleep problems, stress and anxiety.
Before Your Massage
First, It is always a good idea to use the rest room; remember, you will be lying on that table for up to 1.5 hours so you will want to be comfortable. The massage therapists may also ask if you would like relaxing music, hot stones or aromatherapy with the use of essential oils to accompany your massage. These additions can add to the relaxation and overall enjoyment of the experience and may be worth trying. Click here for more information on the benefits of aromatherapy on fibromyalgia.
Be sure to inform your therapist about your fibromyalgia and any other health concerns prior to your massage. While massage therapy is safe and can even be very helpful for those with fibromyalgia, you should always listen to your body and if you find the pressure too hard, let the therapist know immediately. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Massage therapy may be helpful for some fibromyalgia symptoms if it’s continued for long enough, at least 5 weeks.
After Your Massage
Most massages last 60-90 minutes. Once you are finished, it is important to consume an adequate amount of water. Massages help the body rid itself of toxins, thus water is now needed to properly flush them out of your system and re-hydrate. You may feel a bit tired, sleepy or groggy following a message; this is normal especially after a more relaxing type of massage, such as a Swedish massage.
Most people tend to take their massage when they can be in relaxation mode the rest of the day. Try to avoid beverages that are known to dehydrate the body after a massage, such as coffee and alcohol. The caffeine in coffee can also interfere with the sleep benefits of the message. Be sure to get plenty of rest; your body will still need to recover, especially after a more intense deep tissue massage, and it does this best while you are asleep.
Go for It!
Every type of massage is different, but so is every therapist. If you have had a massage in the past and didn’t care for it, there is a good chance that the cause may be attributed to that particular therapist, and not massage therapy per se. So experiment with different massage therapists as well as different types of massages until you find what works best for you. As always, talk to your doctor prior to your massage therapy session.
Thank you for your interest in this article. I hope you go for it and give massage therapy a try. Please let us know if or how massage therapy has helped you in the comments section below. Questions are always welcome too. Take care!