Massage therapy is a hands-on manipulation of the soft tissue and joints of the body. The soft tissues include muscle, skin, tendons and associated fascia, ligaments and joint capsules.
The manipulation can physically stretch muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia, encourage the circulation through the tissue, inhibit muscular spasms and be either sedating or stimulating to the nervous system. This affects all the systems of the body - in particular, the muscular, circulatory, lymphatic (immune) and nervous systems.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Many of today's health problems can benefit from massage therapy because the manipulation of soft tissues affects so many of our bodily systems--muscular, nervous, circulatory and lymphatic (immune). Massage therapy's aims are to restore physical function, alleviate pain, relax tight and tense muscles, improve circulation and recovery time, reduce stress, an increase the sense of well-being.
Massage Therapy and Stress Reduction
Prolonged periods of stress can subconsciously aggravate, or even cause, such problems as heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, memory loss and decreased immune function. Massage therapy is one of the best antidotes for stress. It boosts the body's immune system, which can become compromised from extended periods of stress. Tension can build up in the muscles, causing a decrease in circulation and nutrient delivery to tissues. Manipulation of the soft tissue decreases muscular tension, increases removal of metabolic waste and promotes nutrient delivery to healing tissue.
With a therapeutic massage, stress can be significantly reduced. This, in turn, will increase energy, improve your outlook on life, and in the process boost your immune system function.
Relief and Recovery
The pain which brings you to a chiropractor often involves problems in the musculature. These problems might include:
Nerve Constriction - Nerves run alongside of, between and through muscles. Tight muscles can squeeze and put pressure on nerves causing constriction, which interferes with the free flow of nerve impulses and sometimes causes pain. Through muscle relaxation, massage alleviates the constriction of the nerves due to muscle tension.
Poor Circulation - Tight muscles may also constrict blood vessels, thus slowing blood flow to an area, a condition called ischemia which causes pain. By increasing circulation to an area, massage reduces ischemia and therefore the pain it causes.
Trigger Points - Trigger points are specific spots in muscles and tendons which cause pain, and which may radiate to a larger area. They are thought by some as small areas of irritated muscular which contribute to muscle spasm. Trigger points may be caused by sudden trauma (e.g. auto accident injuries or falls), by repeated use of a particular muscle, or they may simply develop over time from abnormal muscle tension in an area. Direct pressure with the thumb, elbow or fingers on a trigger point will often deactivate it, thus relieving the pain it causes.
Damaged Soft Tissues - Accidents at home, work or on the road can leave bruises, sprains, and other injuries in the soft tissues. Massage improves general and local circulation, helping to clear cellular debris from an injury site, and bringing nutrients needed to heal the damage soft tissues. Thus massage therapy helps speed recovery.
Pain-Spasm-Pain-Cycle - You may get caught in the pain-spasm-pain-cycle. This phenomena is started either by pain or spasm in the muscle, which perpetuates itself in an endless loop. For example, you may tense up from pain which causes more tension resulting in more pain which leads to more tension causing you more PAIN and on and on until something breaks the cycle.
Arlington VA Chiropractor, Dr. Leslie Holcombe, may prescribe massage and coordinate your chiropractic treatment with the massage therapist. For your convenience, in-office massage therapy appointments are available by appointment only.