imagesMassage is much more than a way to relax. Being rubbed the right way can improve your physical and mental health and provide relief for many common medical conditions. These are the basic facts about massage therapy and steps you can take to get the best results.

Basic Facts About Massage Therapy

1. Know the meaning of massage. There are more than 50 different kinds of massage, but they all have a lot in common. The basic purpose is to relax the muscles and other soft tissues by applying strategic pressure.

2. Distinguish between different types of massage. There are a few broad categories to keep in mind.

* Swedish massage is the most common and relatively gentle.
* Deep tissue massage focuses on certain body parts that are sore or stiff.
* Neuromuscular therapy massage is a medically oriented procedure that targets the trigger points in your muscular and nervous systems.

3. Get familiar with the benefits. You probably know that massage is good for back pain, but there’s growing evidence that it may be effective for everything from asthma to fibromyalgia.

* In addition to relieving pain and restoring a broader range of movement, a good rub down can also lower your blood pressure and stress hormones and improve your immune system.

4. Respect the mind-body connection. Many advocates of massage attribute much of its success to the power of a healing touch. Humans are social creatures, so we need positive physical contact and expressions of caring.

5. Play it safe. Proper licensing and certification can help you to know that you’re in good hands. Most states license massage therapists, so check that your provider has the necessary credentials. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is a good place to start looking for qualified professionals.

6. Consider your budget. Before you take on a big expense, check your insurance coverage. Therapy results are usually cumulative so you’ll probably need multiple sessions to reach your goals.

How to Work With a Massage Therapist

1. Talk with your doctor. The first step is to let your doctor know that you want to visit a massage therapist. They might be able to recommend a therapist with the appropriate specialties and coordinate your care.

2. Schedule an initial consultation. Your first visit is a good time to verify that you and your therapist are a good match. Be prepared to discuss your goals, medical history and lifestyle.

3. Find a pregnancy specialist. If you’re expecting, you need to take special precautions. Prenatal massage centers will know how to position you for comfort and safety and provide valuable healing alternatives for various health challenges during your pregnancy.

4. Protect your privacy. Maybe you feel a little hesitant about disrobing. Be aware that a therapist will leave the room so you can arrange yourself in private. Undress to whatever extent you’re comfortable with and use a blanket or towel to keep partially covered.

5. Notify your therapist about any allergies. Oils and lotions are often used to reduce friction. If you’re sensitive to specific chemicals or fragrances, say so in advance.

6. Minimize distractions. Maybe you enjoy instrumental music or want to chat about your week. On the other hand, let your preferences be known if you think silence is more golden.

7. Discuss any discomfort or pain. Some forms of therapeutic massage can be uncomfortable. Let your massage therapist know how you are feeling so you can work together to make it the best experience possible.

To receive the highest quality care, talk with your doctor about all alternative treatments you’re considering and ensure your massage therapist is licensed and certified.

By discovering the benefits of massage, you’ll be joining millions of people who have been using this natural and effective therapy for centuries.