What is a deep tissue massage?

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.

It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.

How does deep tissue massage work?

When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.

Will deep tissue massage hurt?

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.

It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you ecperience is outside your comfort range.

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.

What conditions is deep tissue massage used for?

Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Ostearthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm

According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain.

People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.

Don’t mask the pain, fix it with massage!

Health issues affect all of us and most people would rather pop a pill or try to forget about it until it strikes again. Massage might not be the first thing to come to your mind as a way to deal with the pain or illness, but the fact is that a majority of medicines do not deal with the root cause of a health problem but rather masks the problem. This is where the benefit of massage therapy can be helpful in fixing the problem rather than covering the symptoms.

Massage can offer multiple benefits that are good for you both mentally and physically. A therapeutic massage offers more than the typical feel good factor, and when done by an experienced massage therapist the results are incredible.

Below are some of the many reasons quoted from different internet websites and are some amazing motives as to why you should come for a therapeutic massage in Hoover AL, from Widdoss Therapeutic Massage.

#1. Helps you lose weight and look good

Massages can help you lose some weight and look good. The soft, gentle strokes by a massage therapist enable the lymphatic system to release toxins from the body, the release of toxins has a firming effect on your body.

Massages helps to increase blood flow in the body, and some specific ones can even help to breathe life into your dull complexion and lackluster hair. Massages are known to be great for those who are looking for ways to tighten their loose skin after weight loss. Keeping in mind, you have to follow a healthy lifestyle too.

#2. Reduces chronic pain

Lots of people complain about shoulder, neck and back aches. Regardless if it is chronic pain due to some illness, incorrect body postures, or cramps from strenuous exercise, a good massage can help ease and release the tight muscles.

Massages bring relief through muscle relaxation, applied pressure and improved circulation. Talking about this, researcher Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., says, “We found that the benefits of a massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga.”

#3. Helps relieve depression and stress

It is believed that a good massage can help to relieve stress, tension and anxiety which are often associated with depression. Physical touch boosts the release of happy hormones, endorphin, in the body. It also decreases the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, it can disturb your system and lead to depression.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to regulate these hormones!

#4. Promotes better sleep

The kneading and rubbing of muscles helps to decrease the tension in the body, thus providing relaxation. Massages help in releasing serotonin and endorphins in the body, which affect your sleep positively.

Studies have shown that massage therapy helps to enhance delta waves in the brain, which are known to encourage deep sleep.

#5. Boosts immunity

A massage may be your answer to those common colds and other ailments that strike often. Researchers say that massages increase lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells that prepares your immune system to fight diseases.

A strong immune system keeps you healthy and energetic. Add to this the fact that it curbs depression and stress, giving you all the more reasons to indulge in a massage for the sake of your health.

 #6. Reduces blood pressure

Regular massages can bring about a significant change in the blood pressure readings of people who are diagnosed with hypertension. When blood pressure is lowered, it translates to lower anxiety, depression and stress, and helps stave off kidney failure, stroke and even a heart attack.

#7. Sooths headaches and PMS

Regular massages work wonders for people suffering from migraine and other kinds of headaches. And, if you are one of those who struggle with those awful pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS), this therapy is a great solution to banish them all for good.

Relaxing the muscles through an invigorating massage is a surefire way to do your body and mind a whole lot of good.

If you have never gone for a massage you don’t know what you are missing out on!

Surprising Health Benefits of Massage

It goes without saying that massages feel pretty darn good, whether they’re coming from a trained licensed massage therapist or your significant other. Unfortunately, professional massages come with a hefty price-tag, one that most of us aren’t willing to shell out on a regular basis. But far from being a frivolous luxury reserved for the rich and famous, massages actually come with a litany of proven health benefits. Still not convinced? Read on!

The first, and most well-known, benefit of massage is the relief of muscle tension and, beyond that, injury prevention—which is why elite athletes flock to the massage table in droves. What’s more, massage might boost the immune system, manage chronic pain, and alleviate anxiety and depression. Furthermore, research over the past ten years confirms that massage is also considered the perfect antidote for stress. To that end, and in the right hands (pun intended), the recuperative and pampering powers of massage make it the perfect gift for such special occasions as birthdays, anniversaries—and, of course, Mother’s Day!

Today, massage therapy continues to impact people in positive ways and comes with a raft of research that confirms its ever-expanding role in our overall well-being. Says Nancy Porambo, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA): “Professional massage therapy is being increasingly viewed by physicians and their patients as an important component of integrated care. Nearly 9 of 10 American consumers we surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain. And, a growing body of research continues to validate that.”

According to Dr. Keri Peterson, a board certified internal medicine physician affiliated with New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center, “There is more and more clinical evidence that shows that massage therapy can be effective for a variety of health conditions, and massage is rapidly becoming recognized as an important part of health and wellness.” To illustrate the doctor’s point, here are nine additional health and medical benefits that you might not be aware of, and the studies that back them up:

Helps lower back pain. In a study conducted through Group Health Institute and published in the February 2014 edition of Scientific World Journal, researchers investigating whether chronic low-back pain therapy with massage therapy alone was as effective as combining it with non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, found that patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function. Massage patients also reported that they were able to reduce the amount of OTC anti-inflammatory medications they were taking.

Lessens inflammation after exercise. Research through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, indicated that massage therapy lessens inflammation of skeletal muscles acutely damaged through exercise.

Alleviates the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice3 showed that adults with rheumatoid arthritis may feel a decrease in pain, as well as greater grip strength and range of motion in wrists and large upper joints, after receiving regular moderate-pressure massages during a 4-week period.

Relieves the pain of osteoarthritis. Research supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that for those with osteoarthritis of the knee, sixty minute sessions of Swedish massage once a week significantly reduced their discomfort.

Improves balance, neurological, and cardiovascular measures in older adults. Research published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found that older adults who receive massage therapy for up to six weeks could benefit from decreased blood pressure and improved stability. This study suggests that regular massage therapy can produce several advantages for the older generation, including a relaxation effect for the entire body, lower blood pressure, decreased stress and improved balance.

Decreases stress in cancer patients. According to research published in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, massage therapy can have a positive influence on the quality of life of people suffering serious illnesses such as brain cancer. These study results suggest that massage therapy can improve physical as well as emotional well-being in patients with late stage disease. When used in combination with standard care, massage can also help reduce stress, anxiety, pain and fatigue.

Reduces anxiety in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Studies published in Applied Nursing Research5, shows that back massage given during chemotherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and acute fatigue. This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy within the full cancer treatment spectrum, particularly during the often mentally and physically exhausting chemotherapy process.

Alleviates pain from fibromyalgia. According to the AMTA’s own 2011 study, myofascial release techniques (often called deep tissue massage) improve pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic disease characterized by generalized pain, fatigue, and depression.

Reduces burn scars. In a study published in the March issue of the journal Burns, researchers concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy was effective in improving the pain, itching, and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn.

Now this is news that rubs us the right way!

Massage and Summer Activities

Many of us are now eagerly harvesting our gardens planted, mowing our lawns and keeping our flower beds free of weeds.  You may also be experiencing new aches and pains from muscles and joints that haven’t been utilized in quite this way for many months.  This is a good time to consider massage therapy to keep you going and to keep your muscles, bones, and connective tissue in good working condition.  Here are some of the many benefits massage therapy provides.

  • Relieves stress, pain, pain induced anxiety, and muscle congestion
  • Improves range of motion increasing flexibility and muscle tone
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Improves metabolic waste removal strengthening immune function
  • Improves alertness
  • Reduces swelling
  • Clears thinking
  • Encourages faster healing time
  • Relieves tension headaches
  • Provides a sense of well-being
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Supports white blood cell proliferation aiding our immune system
  • Reduces depression
  • Relives symptoms of nausea and vomiting for the cancer patient
  • Enhances body image

Equally important as the season changes is to maintain adequate hydration.  Muscles and tissues require lots of fluids as well as good wholesome nutrition to function properly and to avoid spasms and sprains.  When we work or exercise hard our muscles build up lactic acid.  This is normal, but often can become lodged within the tissues when spasms or strains occur.  This creates those painful “knots” we often experience that can shorten our range of motion as well.

Massage therapy can release these pockets of lactic acid and return muscles to their optimal best functioning.  If left unattended, lactic acid can become more toxic to the body.  This causes an inflammatory response by the immune system and the pain cycle advances.

A professional massage therapist will apply the right kinds of techniques to muscles and joints to release tightness, cramping, spasms, and knots.

Keep yourself going great all summer, consider regional or full body massage to be your optimal best and complete all your summertime tasks with ease and comfort.

Contact Widdoss Therapeutic Massage to schedule your appointment next time you are in the Birmingham AL area.  Call 205-394-5900 or visit our website at www.wtmmassage.com for our current specials.

Benefits of Massage

First time massage is often motivated by a stressful or painful condition, but the benefits of massage go much deeper and offer you far more than you may have ever suspected. Regular massage can greatly benefit your overall health and well-being.

The most obvious benefit is that a massage makes you feel great! The stress-relieving, soothing results alone are enough for many to include massage as a regular part of their lives. What of the less obvious benefits?

The first sense to develop is your sense of touch. It’s not surprising when you consider that each square inch of your skin contains roughly 50 nerve endings. With as many as five million touch receptors in your skin relaying messages to your brain, your body’s initial response to massage is to relax, lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate. Massage also signals the brain to produce endorphins, your body’s natural pain suppressors.

Going deeper, massage helps restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. Massage is the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm and helps to release the toxins produced by muscle tissue during exercise.

Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste. Massage encourages a better exchange of nutrients at the cellular level.

The nervous system is your internal communication network, sending messages constantly that determine proper functioning throughout your body. Stress affects the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage.

Massage also aids in maintaining flexibility in your joints, such as the knee, hip, spine, shoulder, and neck. These joints are thoroughfares for nerves, veins and arteries, so their freedom of movement allows energy and blood to flow unimpeded.

All forms of massage therapy and bodywork can be therapeutic when applied by a skillful and knowledgeable therapist.

Some of the more common massage techniques include, but are not limited to: Swedish Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Trigger Point Therapy and Rehabilitative Stretching Procedures.

It is common for some to play down the effects of so called Relaxation Massage and to even call it “Fluff,” however, as we learn more about the stress response and it’s role in creating disease, we see a definite need for this type of service.

The capacity to combine intuitive and scientifically proven principles defines the art and science of massage therapy.

What are the benefits of massage therapy?

• Releases tight and sore muscles which can cause ischemia, a lack of blood supply to soft tissues, which causes hypersensitivity to the touch and allows for further injury to the tissues.

• Helps relieve nerve compression or entrapment. (Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone, which can contribute to muscle atrophy and referred pain.)

• Deactivates myofascial trigger points. These are areas of high neurological activity, which refer pain to other parts of the body. Research has shown, trigger points may be responsible for as much as 74 percent of everyday pain.

• Decreases pain and inflammation. Massage can restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. It’s the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm.

• Alleviates stress and improves circulation. Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste to be eliminated from the cells. Remember, the future “you” is determined by how well your army of cells regenerate themselves, so this is indeed a critical part of remaining healthy. Massage has been practiced for thousands of years and is one of the earliest health treatments known to man. That is why it remains one of the best ways of dealing with everyday stress.

• Aids in Digestion. Massage can improve digestive motility.

• Increases flexibility and range of motion. By reducing hypertonicity and hypotonicity the muscles allow for normal ranges of motion to be restored. This also reduces the forces being applied to the joint capsule and diminishes the potential for joint and disk degeneration.

• Calms the nervous system. Stress can affect the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage, and this contributes to keeping your internal lines of communication open and operational.

• Alleviate headaches. Frequent headaches are not normal and, with a little proactive planning, there is something that can be done to manage and even prevent them. Headaches come in many varieties. Following is a short list of the most common types.

Migraine headaches occur when the blood vessels in the brain become dilated, usually due to a chemical reaction, such as food allergies or a stress response. They often start with visual disturbances and quickly develop into severe head pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. They’re usually felt on one side of the head, but can be on both sides. Migraines are often managed with medications and avoidance of foods known to trigger them. However, some bodywork techniques can also be effective in easing migraines or decreasing the frequency.

Tension Headaches, exaggerated by stress, are related to poor posture, jaw problems, and neck pain. Tension headaches are most often caused or exacerbated by poor posture, work station positions, and body mechanics, creating undue stress on the upper neck muscles.

Mixed Headaches is used to describe a tension headache that leads to a migraine. Typically, the tension headache starts first and the chemicals produced from the pain of it create conditions for a migraine to develop. In people with patterns of mixed headaches, the best way to avoid the onset of a migraine is to treat the tension headache.

• Improves posture and coordination

Massage is cost effective. By assisting the client towards a quicker recovery from acute headaches, neck and back pain, skeletal muscular strains, sprains, etc. he or she is able to return to a normal productive life more quickly. Massage can also help to prevent future chronic pain conditions by effectively dealing with the cause of the problem and eliminating it. It is shown in scientific literature that over 80 percent of the pain comes from soft tissue injuries, and over 74 percent is directly attributed to trigger points.

A massage does not have to be painful to be beneficial. On the other hand, you may enjoy a really hard massage. And you can continue having massages even after your muscles have totally released the memory of injury.

There is something particularly satisfying when your massage therapist locates the exact place where your pain is, and you can really feel that part of you being released. After a while, your muscles and joints feel so much better.  A good massage is just amazing – You walk in, lie down, and walk out feeling so much better.

Sciatica Pain associated with Pregnancy

Some lucky women breeze through pregnancy with hardly any physical discomfort. But for others, unexpected aches and pains become a constant part of the nine-month journey. One of the most common complaints a massage therapists hears about relates to sciatica pain. Fortunately, one of the most effective treatments for this issue is massage.

The sciatic nerve runs from the neck through the midsection of the back of the body and into the leg. As a woman’s pregnancy advances, this nerve bears the brunt of the growing fetus and expanding uterus. Additionally, swelling from water retention can increase pressure on this nerve, contributing to inflammation. Pregnant women who drive long distances or have jobs that require sitting for long periods of time may have a higher risk of developing sciatica. And, of course, the position of the fetus significantly affects sciatic-related pain.

Sciatic pain typically affects only one side of the lower body and may extend from the lower back into the back of the thigh and down the leg. In some cases, the pain may also radiate into the foot or toes. As the fetus moves, the pain may subside or worsen. Unfortunately, sciatica is fairly common during the second and third trimesters.

However, each woman has a different pain threshold and will experience different symptoms. In some cases, sciatic pain can be quite severe and debilitating. In others, the pain could be fleeting and mildly discomfiting. Some women report a pinprick sensation in the leg, foot or lower back. Others experience mild numbness and tingling, a dull ache or burning sensation. In extreme cases, the pain can be incapacitating. Sciatic pain is unpredictable and could resolve on its own.

Before beginning massage, the therapist needs to identify the severity and point of origin of the pain. Bending the knee and lifting the foot will help to lengthen the piriformis muscle. A professional massage therapist will warm up the area with a series of passes using your fist, forearm or elbow, followed by static compression with the elbow or a loose fist. Constant pressure on the piriformis and gluteal muscles helps them relax and reduces spasms.

Pain associated with sciatica may continue after the baby is born, since the rate at which the uterus returns to its normal size varies from one woman to the next. Regular massage post delivery can help relieve discomfort and allow the new mom to enjoy her infant. As a reminder, a sciatica injury that was present before you became pregnant, will eventually go away.

Therapeutic Massage can relieve sore muscles

A new study shows that massage therapy can help ease sore muscles as well as improve blood flow for active and non-active individuals. The positive effects can last for more than 72 hours, and those with poor circulation or limited ability to move may benefit the most from massage, according to researchers. For the study, researchers asked 36 healthy but inactive young adults to use a leg press machine until their legs became sore.  Half of participants were given a Swedish leg massage after exercise, and all participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from one to 10.

A third comparison group did not exercise but received a massage.   A HealthDay news report notes that although both exercise groups were sore right after their workout, the persons who got the massage said they had no soreness 90 minutes later.  However, those in the group that did not receive a massage said they were sore 24 hours after they exercised.

The research team also measured the participants’ brachial artery flow mediated dilation in their arms, which is a standard measure of general vascular health, that was taken 90 minutes as well as 1, 2, and 3 days after exercise. The people who received a post-exercise massage had improved blood flow at every testing interval and the benefits of the massage didn’t dispel until after 72 hours had passed.

Nina Cherie Franklin, PhD, first author of the study, says, “We believe that massage is really changing physiology in a positive way. This is not just blood flow speeds — this is actually a vascular response.” The research team also found that the control group who received massage only showed virtually identical levels of improvement in circulation as the exercise and massage group.

Franklin states, “Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data. It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise.”

How to maximize the benefits of massage

Getting a massage is undoubtedly one of the best options of making the body more rejuvenated and stress free. Massage therapy has been around for centuries and it now forms as an important adjunct therapy for the treatment of chronic diseases. There are many benefits derived from a professional massage service and it is a proven way of improving one’s general well-being. While massage used to be popular only for being a form of a relaxation and leisure, it has currently developed to become a norm of treatment in relieving stress on the muscles, joints, ligaments and soft tissues.

Massaging the body enhances the blood flow throughout the body while it helps to remove the metabolic wastes that are the common cause of pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints. It also helps to enhance your mood and it promotes a relaxed mind as well. If you want to maximize your massage experience and to enjoy the optimized benefits from a massage, you can do the following in order to ensure that you spend some quality time for a better mind and body rejuvenation experience.

Determine your health goals

By defining your health goals you will be able to choose the specific type of massage that will best address your health needs. Because there are many emerging massage types with distinct styles and therapeutic approaches, you should narrow your choices when selecting for the best option by first understanding why you need a massage. This will help you accomplish making the right choice on which type of massage therapy will help you attain your purpose.

Understand the different massage therapy types

As you define your health goals, your next step is to understand the various types of massage to help you in selecting the one that will meet your preferences. A Swedish massage for instance will consist mostly of gliding and gentle strokes that aim to promote general wellness and relaxation to the body. This type of massage is best suited for someone who wants to experience a soothing effect on a sore muscle. For chronic pain in the body, a deep tissue massage is perfect as it targets to relieve deeper tissues that are strained and tensed.

Drink plenty of water after a massage

During the massage, the body usually perspires and it needs more water in order to help it eliminate the toxins that were released from the body caused by the increased circulation as a result of the therapeutic response of the body to a massage. Water helps the kidney to become more effective in flushing out the body toxins and other waste products too. By drinking water after a massage, you replenish the liquid lost from the body and it further complements in making the body more effective in eliminating toxins.

Hire a professional massage therapist

You can maximize the benefits of enjoying a great and pleasurable experience of a massage treatment when it is performed by a professional massage therapist. Professional therapists are skilled because they receive the proper training and education in massage therapy. You will feel more confident and safe when the massage therapy is performed by someone with the proper training and can perform accurately the proper strokes and manipulations for more efficient therapeutic effects of a massage.

Take a nap

A nap is the perfect way of complementing the therapeutic effects of a massage to your body. While the massage brings your body and energy in harmony, a nap will further re-enforce its effect of recharging your body to make it more rejuvenated. Some experts recommend that a thirty minute nap will suffice. However, giving your body a longer time to sleep is the best way of maximizing your massage experience.

Keep away your gadgets and avoid other distractions

You don’t get to receive a massage every day and you might as well maximize that relaxing moment you have for the day. Avoid distractions that can keep you away from a relaxing mood and stress free condition such as your laptops, smartphones and other gadgets that can keep your mind and body off from a relaxed mode. It is best to free your day from appointments and activities and devote the day for getting a therapeutic massage while allowing your body to completely recuperate better after the long days of stressful work and activities.

If you want to pamper yourself with a relaxing massage treatment, it is best to do it now! Give us a call at 205-394-5900 or visit our website at www.wtmmassage.com fill out a contact form and we will call you!

Massage and sleep

Massage therapy has been shown to induce relaxation and calm, and it can also lead to a better night’s sleep.

Massage therapy leads to a feeling of relaxation and calm, and clients often report a sense of clarity and perspective. Not only does massage therapy feel good physically, but it also seems to hit a mental ‘reset button,’ leading to clearer thoughts and enhanced sleep.  Massage therapy can also manage two common sleep stealers: stress and pain. Massage therapy tackles stress on the physical level by easing muscle tightness and on the biochemical level by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol–prompting the release of endorphins, which make us feel good.

Massage therapy has been shown to mediate pain, which is very good news for people living with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.  The pain-lessening benefits of regular massage therapy lead to better sleep. Better sleep will ultimately give your body time to restore and heal.

Swedish massage therapy is what comes to mind when most people think about massage. One of the primary goals of Swedish massage is to relax the entire body, which is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage is also exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins and improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin–a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes–white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.

Swedish massage techniques also include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during a Swedish massage session, talking to the massage therapist will allow the massage to be customized.

A wide variety of massage services are available at Widdoss Therapeutic Massage, including Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, reflexology, trigger point therapy, sports massage, Deep Muscle Therapy, prenatal massage, and AromaTherapy.

Give us a call today at 205-394-5900 and schedule your appointment, then prepare to experience a better nights sleep!

Timing is Key to Massage Benefits for Neck Pain

Massage can relieve neck pain if it’s done often by a professional therapist and for the correct length of time, according to new research.

One-hour sessions two or three times a week appear to be best, said study researcher Karen Sherman, senior scientific investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

“In the short term, 60 minutes of massage is better than 30, and you want to do multiple treatments a week for the first four weeks,” she said.

Her study, which tested the effects of a month of massage, is published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Persistent neck pain is common and stems from numerous causes — car accidents, sleeping in awkward positions or spending hours hunched over a computer, among them, Sherman said.

Doctors often recommend anti-inflammatory medicines, but these drugs frequently don’t provide enough relief, she noted. “People with back and neck pain aren’t usually satisfied with what they get from their doctor, so they are looking around for something that works,” Sherman explained.

Previous studies of massage for neck pain have produced conflicting results, so Sherman’s team decided to look closer. Specifically, they wanted to determine what dose of massage is ideal. In a previous study, Sherman had found that benefits of massage were evident after four weeks.

For the new study, she randomly assigned 228 men and women, aged 20 to 64, to one of six groups. These included 30-minute massages two or three times weekly, one-hour massages one, two or three times weekly, and a comparison group receiving no massage.

Assessing neck functioning and pain levels a week after treatment ended, the researchers determined that patients getting one hour of massage three times a week showed the most gains after four weeks of massage.

Compared to those who got no massage, “people getting massage three times a week were almost five times as likely to have a clinically meaningful (meaning important or noticeable) improvement in function and over twice as likely to report a clinically meaningful decrease in pain,” Sherman said.

Many patients who get therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain may not reap benefits if they undergo shorter or less frequent sessions, the authors suggested.

Jeanette Ezzo, a massage therapist and researcher in Takoma Park, Md., called the study “an important contribution to understanding the massage dosage necessary to relieve neck pain.” Ezzo has published research on the effectiveness of complementary medicine practices, including massage.

Nationwide, the average cost for a one-hour massage by a professional massage therapist is $65, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. However, in large cities the fee can be much higher.

Insurance coverage varies, said Sherman. Whether massage therapy would work in elderly patients isn’t known as the average age of her patients was in the 40s.

Sherman cautioned against having a family member or friend attempt to massage away your neck pain. “We used extremely experienced massage therapists,” she said. Treatment sessions also assessed range of motion and looked at how the patient’s body compensated for the neck pain, which the average person is unable to do, she said.

Dr. Fredrick Wilson, a spine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, stressed the need to use a professional massage therapist. “If done incorrectly, [massage] can actually cause muscle tightening and spasm,” he said.

For neck or back pain, “it seems the training and experience make a difference in the amount of pain relief patients get,” he added.

However, Wilson said he is waiting for a study that shows longer-lasting effects before he recommends massage for patients complaining of neck pain. The authors agreed that studies with longer follow-up are warranted.

People with chronic neck pain might also ask their doctor about special neck exercises, Sherman said.

Neck pain accounts for more than 10 million medical visits a year in the United States, according to background information in the study. When patients were followed up one to five years later, at least half reported persistent or recurrent problems, previous studies found.