How Massage works: Top 3 Massage Myths
There are hundreds of myths circulating around massage therapy and its effectiveness. It is easy to understand why many people get confused as to what is a truth and what is a myth when there are so many therapists with different education or experience. Here are our key 3 myths that we believe need clarifying:
1. No pain, no gain = if it’s not painful, it’s not doing anything
Well, this is actually false.
Pain is resistance to change. Pain is what we are trying to get rid of and you can’t fight fire with fire. When under stress or in pain, the body switches to “fight or flight” mode and your adrenaline kicks in. Painful massage doesn’t relax or calm the nervous system and therefore it won’t create a positive change. Tensing up to tolerate a painful treatment causes more tension and defeats the purpose of actually having a massage.
Receiving a deep, firm or even very firm pressured treatment is still possible so long as the therapist is skilled at applying it. It should be slow enough to allow your muscles and soft tissues to melt as they sink into deeper layers.
We want to reach a therapeutic edge – the place where change is created in a safe way. It involves a satisfying level of pleasant /good pain achieved when pressure is applied to a nagging area or a knot. A similar sense of relief i.e. when scratching an irritating itch!
2. Massage can fix it in one go = no, no
A single massage can relieve your symptoms in the short term, but unfortunately won’t fix it. Relief is great as it gives you a temporary break from the pain or discomfort that you are in, but may not last more than few days.
Months or years of tension can build-up from poor posture, siting at your desk and muscle imbalance from repetitive movements.
When coming for a massage, it’s very important to discuss how far we want to go with our treatments. Remedial massage can open a can of worms – where you can feel worse before getting better. Take the analogy of clearing a messy garage – when you start taking things out, it becomes initially messy, before it’s organised in a better way. It is very important to finish what we started when we are releasing knots or creating new healthy muscle behaviour.
A course of treatments that is started but abandoned after one session, can cause more harm than good. It needs the full course of treatments to put things back in the right order – building each time on top of what is started in a first session. Based on scientific research, the most effective treatment plan to fix the problem is called “Fix in 6”:
- 1 massage treatment per week for 3 consecutive weeks (no more than 7-10 days apart).
- It is then followed by 2-3 treatments when we can gradually start to reduce to fortnightly sessions or every 3 weeks until the results last for a month.
When this achieved the client can then simply maintain the results once a month which will also prevent the problem from coming back.
3. Massage is only a hocus pocus relaxation voodoo
Yes, you can simply go to a spa for someone to rub the oil on your back, but a real therapeutic massage has heaps of science behind it. Clinical massage treatment, like the one at Elite Performance Therapy is based on many scientifically proven theories.
One of the benefits of massage is that it facilitates healthy movement patterns in the body by establishing new muscle memories. There is also a lot of research on the physiological effects from massage on all body organs. More recent research in massage science involves the understanding of fascia. Performing massage myofascial release on the connective tissue that binds the whole body together can aid visceral wellbeing add enormously to it’s effectiveness.
At Elite Performance Therapy our qualifications are continually updated to current industry developments – adapting physical techniques to the most recent research. As professionals we are required to undergo continual professional training to keep up with latest research and developmental changes. We believe Elite Performance Therapy treatments can be effective and feel good – even when we apply our massage in a scientific way!
BY: Isy Fergusson
Chiropractic, Fitness, Health, Message Therapy, Physical Therapy
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