4 Common Massage Myths You Should NOT Believe
Some days are stressful… and some are just downright crippling. If you’ve ever felt so stressed that one of your stressors is that the simple thought of stress actually stresses you out – don’t stress – you’re not alone. Massage therapy is an excellent way to unwind and really let all that built up tension and anxiety go; but if that’s such a simple solution, why do so many people hold back? There are some myths out there that are so widely believed that they become factual to so many people. Below are some of these myths and ideas that you absolutely shouldn’t take at face value:
All Massages are the Same
FALSE! There are so many techniques, pressures, and tools that you have a laundry list of massages to try and find what works for your rejuvenation and relaxation. More importantly, massages can be personalized to focus on specific muscles groups or can help heal your muscles from various strains or injuries. For those just starting out, Swedish massages are excellent for full-body relaxation and don’t require a lot of pressure for those with low pain tolerances. But for those who feel that deep rooted tension, there are deep tissue massages to loosen up knots in the muscles and connective tissues. If you are an athlete or lead a very active lifestyle, sports massages may be more up your alley with preventative massages to keep your muscles in tip top shape, warding off new or repetitive injuries. If using the same muscles over and over every day, these preventative massages may be a great way to relieve pain from everyday strains.
For more targeted tension relief, many lean on trigger point therapy and reflexology. Trigger points are involuntary tight, tender spots in a contracted muscle. This creates pain and dysfunction within the muscle and can cause decreased circulation, increased muscle contraction, spasm and increased nerve sensitivity causing a sharp pain or a constant ache. Trigger point massage relieves these knotted muscles by applying firm pressure to problem areas for a prolonged amount of time until release. Much like this, reflexology releases tension in the hands and feet. Soreness in these muscle groups are said to be connected to and caused by disruptions in other organs or body parts. In Chinese practice, other medical issues within the body can be determined by the deferred pain found within the hands and feet. To relieve these body aches and pains, you can apply prolonged pressure to the corresponding pressure point until the pain melts away.
The Benefits of Massage are Temporary and Fleeting
Though some believe that massages are simply to get muscles moving, massage techniques are much more in depth than this myth leads you to believe. Massages help to rejuvenate sore, tired muscles that may have been overworked for a number of reasons. Some massages fixate on specific groups of muscles and if these are your most often used muscles, massages may be needed more often than others. This myth stems from the idea that if you relieve tension once, the tension will never reoccur, but repetitive use of the same muscles will continually cause strain or tension. For this reason, massages may be needed on a more regular basis. However, if you live a more sedentary lifestyle, one massage may last you much longer than that of someone who heavy lifts every day. So, massage therapy is relative to the person and their lifestyle but more often than not, the pain relief from the release of tension and knots is worth the time and becomes an easy solution you’ll enjoy many times over.
If it’s Not Hurting, it’s Not Working
Massages are not meant to leave you worse off than how you started. What is commonly misunderstood is that massages are not a one and done deal where all pain just disappears after one session. A massage is meant to target those areas of built up tension that are causing you pain and discomfort so when you or your massage therapist are applying pressure and kneading a knot, soreness after your session is common. However, not all bodies are the same and not all respond to massage therapy in the same manner. While some may feel soreness the next day, others may feel perfectly normal. This can be explained by a few factors: how often you are massaging, your type of lifestyle, how strenuous your everyday duties are, and more. For instance, as someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle or spends long hours at a desk, you may acquire less knots and need less deep tissue work than that of someone whose job requires more get-up-and-go. Regardless, massages shouldn’t cause you so much discomfort that your body is in pain when you’re done. Do NOT hesitate to have an open conversation with your massage therapist if you feel an amount of pressure is just too much. Massages can be personalized to you and your needs so be outspoken with your therapist so that you receive the right pressure in the right muscles for better long-term results.
Massages Are Not Safe for Expecting Mothers
Pregnancy is already a hard and grueling time without the added fear that a simple massage can jeopardize your baby. Rest assured, massages are baby and mommy-to-be safe… and recommended! In fact, because of the growing belly, a woman’s center-of-balance is thrown for a loop and the additional weight can cause back and foot pain sooner than you’d think. To help soothe those aches and pains, Swedish massages can cater to those discomforts all over the body. It is also said to help regulate hormones that are ramping up during pregnancy, even some that are directly related to stress and anxiety like cortisol. Because the blood flow within the muscles is improved during massage therapy, this can also improve the dreaded swelling of joints for moms-to-be as fluids begin to circulate more throughout the body. And while swelling is a common problem throughout the pregnancy, sciatic nerve pain hits later on when pressure from the baby begins to rest on the lower back and pelvic floor. Massages to release this tension can help with pain while sitting or lying, improving sleep patterns for the mother as well.
For those who want a simple massage of the baby bump, there are at-home massage tools that can give you the same relaxation without ever leaving the house. We suggest an Apollo Roller that can be glided across the belly for a soothing massage experience.
Safety and Precautions
There are many massage techniques to try and some come highly recommended by doctors and therapists for chronic aches and pains. Speak with your physician if you have any medical concerns and consult them for massage techniques that may be best for you. In cases of pregnancy, choose a therapist that is educated in and certified for prenatal massage so that they can better position you to relieve possible strains to vital ligaments while on the table. It suggested that lying on your side for massages is best practice and your therapist can watch for telltale signs of complications.
Now that you know the truth, what are you waiting for?