If you've never tried massage, learn about its possible health benefits and what to expect during a massage therapy session.

Cornerstone Center for Wellness massage room.

Cornerstone Center for Wellness massage room.

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.

A soothing massage can help you relax and unwind, but that's not all it can help with.

The benefits of massage

Massage can be an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, Some studies have found massage can improve the health of individuals suffering from:

  • Anxiety

  • Digestive disorders

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia related to stress

  • Myofascial pain syndrome

  • Paresthesias and nerve pain

  • Soft tissue strains or injuries

  • Sports injuries

  • Temporomandibular joint pain

What is massage?

Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage, but may also use their forearms, elbows and even feet. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure.

There are many different types of massage, including these common types:

Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you. Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries. Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it's geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries. Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Despite its benefits, massage isn't meant as a replacement for regular medical care.

*Let your doctor know you're trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

Ask questions and inform the staff when you make your appointment.

If you have any medical issues please discuss with your massage therapist prior to your appointment. Let them know of anything that you might be concerned about.

Most people can benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate for everyone. Let your massage therapist know if you have any conditions such as:

  • osteoporosis

  • injuries

  • bleeding disorders

  • if you take blood-thinning medication

*Discuss the pros and cons of massage with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or have cancer or unexplained pain. Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn't ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn't feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage.