Massage Therapy Myths Debunked


As massage therapy has become more popular as a therapeutic practice over the years, it has been associated with numerous claims of varying accuracy. While massage has an enormous amount of proven benefits, there are some common myths often associated with it. To help set the record straight, we’re debunking five common massage therapy myths you may have heard.

Remember, it is important to speak with your doctor or a registered massage therapist to address any questions you may have about massage. Reach out to our team at a Massage Experts location near you.

Myth #1: Massages are all the same

This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Therapeutic, deep tissue, Swedish, sports, and various other types of massages target different areas of the body and are accompanied by several techniques that are specific to the massage. While the setup of a massage might often appear to look the same, the actual methods can be quite different, and it all depends on what you are looking to achieve or treat.

For example, a deep tissue massage applies a firmer amount of pressure using slower movements to target the deeper layers of muscles. Meanwhile, a Swedish massage provides a light to medium amount of pressure while using more sliding and kneading movements on the body.

Determining what massage is best for you can be accomplished by talking with a registered massage therapist (RMT). For example, If you are an athlete, a sports massage might be the best way to prep before a game or to recover afterwards, especially since this type of massage can help positively impact your performance, promote recovery, reduce issues like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), improve flexibility, and more.

If you have a specific muscle condition or area of the body that needs attention, an RMT can work with you to determine what needs to be treated and recommend the appropriate type of massage therapy.

Myth #2: Massage is only meant for the purpose of pampering

While massage therapy can be a great form of self-care, there are countless reasons why someone turns to massage. Many will use it to treat health conditions, while others do want to feel pampered. However, it’s important to note that massage can be a part of your routine, and maintaining massage consistency can do wonders for your health and wellness.

If your goal is to feel more relaxed, massage can certainly help accomplish that. When the body faces stressful situations, several reactions occur which can include symptoms that we can physically feel, as well as an internal release of chemicals (i.e., cortisol) that when triggered too many times can create long-term concerns. Stress can appear in the body as aches and pains, muscle tension, exhaustion, and so on. Massage can target those areas of tension, help release the tight knots that build up in muscles, and release “feel-good” hormones (i.e., dopamine) to help you feel an overall feeling of relaxation.

Massage can also help those who experience severe headaches and migraines. By targeting specific trigger points in the head and neck, while promoting circulation, many who suffer from the difficult symptoms caused by a migraine can often find relief from massage therapy.

Other common health conditions that massage can help treat include muscle tension and chronic pain, jaw pain (i.e., TMJ), arthritis, and more. Massage can also help the body speed up the healing process following an injury, assist in rehabilitation treatments, and can assist in the maintenance of your health and wellness, even when you are not experiencing pain.

Myth #3: Massage removes toxins

This is a common belief that has been circulating for years. However, there is no medical evidence to prove that massage can actually remove stored toxins from the body.

What massage can do is help to improve blood and lymphatic circulation throughout the body, and proper circulation does a number of positive things for the body, including aiding in the process of removing toxins and waste from the body. This also helps keep muscles strong and less likely to weaken during activity.

Myth #4: Your body should be in pain the next day

Everyone experiences things differently, including massage. Some individuals can feel some soreness the day after a massage, especially if the type of massage involved deeper pressure. Others may not feel any pain afterwards which doesn’t mean the massage didn’t “work” or that it wasn’t beneficial.

Any type of soreness following a massage is extremely dependent on the type of massage that was performed, what the focus of the massage was, and how your body typically reacts. Some individuals look for a firm amount of pressure to help treat specific areas of concern, such as muscle tension, and others would much rather have a lighter touch, especially if the massage is for relaxation purposes or stress relief. Either way, each of our bodies is unique and will experience things differently, and pain does not equate to the effectiveness of the massage.

Myth #5: Relief from massage is short-term

The belief that massage therapy only offers short-term relief from pain or tension, is incorrect. While massage can certainly provide instant relief in some respects, it is important to remember that when it comes to any type of treatment, you may need to receive the treatment more than once in order to feel relief – the same goes for massage.

With repeated sessions, RMTs can help train the muscles in the body to remain flexible, strong, and pain-free over time. Thanks to what we call muscle memory, massage can help tell your muscles to feel more relaxed and stretched out, and eventually, your muscles will begin to stay in this more relaxed state for longer periods. This is why regular massage is extremely important, and why many incorporate it continuously to either perform better, recover faster, or provide an overall better sense of wellness long-term.

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