Does massage help with pain?
Massage has been a part of treating ailments and pain for many years, numerous different types of massage have been coined over the years, including names like soft tissue manipulation, myofascial release techniques and sports massage, to name a few, but do they work?
Why does it work?
Considering massage can be painful to experience why do we utilise in for treating painful areas and restricted movement? The benefits of massage in physiotherapy practice appear to be numerous. If an area of the body is painful we believe it is due to the body trying to protect the area. This causes muscle bracing, increased tension and often spasm. These feelings can often be intense in themselves and quite debilitating. If this continues for a long time it can become as much or more of the problem than the original injury. Areas of the body that are held in this state become highly fatigued. Fatigued muscles struggle to get enough blood flow, they produce chemicals that can sensitise nerves in the local area, they can cause other muscles to work more poorly and the body to move in an inefficient way. Massage can reverse some of these problems. It increases local blood flow, the vibrations appear to relax muscle tension and tone reducing spasm in the process. Altered stimulation of the nerves cause changes in input to the spinal cord and subsequently the brain that appears to reduce the bodies need to protect the area. The effects of this leads to increased flexibility of the area and enables more normal movement. Once the area is moving more normally the efficiency of muscle effort is restored and blood flow improved helping to keep the area in an improved state.
Why do we use it?
The effects of massage make it a great tool to use as a physiotherapist, within minutes you can reduce pain, increase movement and relax muscle tone. Once this is done movement retraining and strength and conditioning work is easier to work on. Utilising massage can, in our experience, greatly speed your recovery, return to activity and importantly reduce pain.