By: Lydia Hernandez
The New Year has come and the resolutions have been made. The number one resolution is usually to get into better shape or improve your health. Keeping one or both of those resolutions would be great but we probably all agree that it's pretty hard to do. So, what if it were easier to keep those resolutions? Well, it's easier to get into shape or improve your overall health when you add massage therapy to your health and fitness regimen.
How can massage therapy help you to keep your resolutions? There are many ways but two stand out. First, massage therapy by itself can help you improve your health due to the many healthy benefits of massage including: improved circulation, greater flexibility, better sleep, feelings of wellness, and reduced muscular pain. Secondly, massage therapy can help you get into shape because the nagging soreness and pain from a new workout routine can be reduced or eliminated. When your pain levels are reduced you are more likely to want to continue your workouts. Receiving regular massage therapy can also prevent muscle soreness and minor injuries that could prevent you from keeping up with your workout schedule.
Now that you know that massage therapy can help you improve your health and fitness, you might want to know what types of massage therapy are available to you. There are many styles and techniques used in massage therapy but there are some that are available pretty much anywhere that you can integrate into your health and fitness routine. The best known massage therapy techniques are:
1. Swedish Massage - this is the most common of massage techniques in the United States and perhaps the world. Swedish massage is known for its long gliding strokes, kneading strokes, friction strokes, and percussion as well as joint movements that feel great while improving range of motion. It's most often thought of as a "spa" type of massage but it's much more than that. Swedish massage is great for improving circulation, improving range of motion of your joints, and helping you actually feel better in your own skin. Swedish massage can range from light pressure to a heavier pressure depending on your comfort.
2. Deep Tissue Massage - right behind Swedish massage, Deep Tissue Massage is one of the best known and most often requested massage techniques. This massage is used to root out chronic tension in the deeper musculature and connective tissues that contributes to pain and loss of range of motion in joints. While some practitioners use a heavier, sometimes uncomfortable, pressure in Deep Tissue Massage it should be noted that a more moderate pressure can reach deep tissues and achieve great results with little discomfort.
3. Sports Massage - just like it sounds, Sports Massage is geared toward athletes at every level from professional to the "weekend warrior" and those who strive for a higher level of fitness. Rather than a specific form of massage, Sports Massage is generally a combination of massage techniques tailored to the athlete's needs. The Sports Massage might be applied to one area to relieve pain or might be more general in nature to assure overall performance.
4. Neuromuscular Therapy - also called "NMT", Neuromuscular Therapy is a well known technique for relieving muscular pain throughout the body even "referred" pain that originates from someplace other than where it's felt. This technique uses very targeted massage techniques, positioning, and stretching to release myofascial trigger points in muscles as well as restrictions in tendons, muscular attachments, and sometimes fascia surrounding the muscle.
All of the massage techniques described here can help you keep on track with your pursuit of better health. Of course there are many more massage therapy techniques available that are relaxing, stress reducing, and that relieve chronic tension and pain. You actually don't have to know what type of massage to ask for, you just need to know what you want to achieve. Do you just want to relax? Reduce muscle soreness? Relieve pain? Improve posture? Ask your massage therapist what they recommend for your particular health and fitness needs and they'll help you keep your resolutions.