How do I optimize my massage therapy session?

  • Clear communication with your therapist is critical for obtaining the best results and maximum value. Pre-massage discussions should include (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  1.  Current injuries or problem areas along with any recent surgery
  2. Recent physical activity, travel, or stress that may have prompted you to find a massage therapist
  3. Tendencies to be ticklish
  4. Primary areas of focus for the session
  5.  Perceived pain threshold
  6. Note: If you have a cold, flu, and/or related systems, you should cancel your session as far in advance as possible

What is the difference between Swedish and Sports Massage?

  • Swedish massage is typically full-body, utilizing a variety of strokes at light-to-moderate pressure. It is the modality generally found at spas, hotels, and resorts. The primary goal of Swedish massage is relaxation.

  • Sports massage may incorporate some aspects of Swedish massage, though the pressure applied to various tissues is greater. Sports massage may also incorporate other modalities including Deep Tissue work, and may be focused on specific regions of the body (there may not be an even distribution of time allotted to all body areas). Soft tissue is manipulated to help correct injuries and prevent further damage.

What are “knots”?

  • Knots are collections of collagen proteins (there are at least 27 different types) that are typically sent to damaged tissues as part of the healing process. The collagen acts as a type of “glue” to bind muscle cells together until healing is complete. While the “glue” holds tissue in close proximity during healing (think of how a butterfly bandage holds the edges of a cut in place), it may also limit the muscle’s range of motion (ROM). This can cause imbalance and lead to further discomfort. Massage can help break down this “glue” and allow for improved range of motion. Collagen can take many forms at a repair-site, it does not have to manifest itself as a lump. They may exist as relatively flat sheets that cannot be detected by human touch. In fact, many of the “lumps” we feel under our skin are simply areas where muscle tissues cross each other at different angles. The varying angles of muscle tissue allow joints such as our hips and shoulders to have an extraordinary ROM.

How often should I get a massage?

  • As with most questions related to physiology, the answer “depends”. If your massage is geared primarily towards relaxation, frequency of your treatment will be related to the amount of stress you are encountering. If your massage is part of a training and recovery cycle, you’ll want to schedule your session such that you have 24-36 hours of recovery before your next training session. In the latter case, a session every 2 – 3 weeks will likely be sufficient.

What are some benefits of massage?

  • There is some evidence that massage may improve range of motion (ROM) by breaking up knots (described above).
  • By enhancing the proliferation of mitochondria within muscle cells, the pace of tissue healing may be accelerated.
  • Massage may reduce inflammation (and associated pain) by down-regulating the genesis of certain cytokines that are inflammatory in nature.
  • Massage is thought to produce psychological benefits such as relaxation and feelings of well-being (doing something good for one’s self).