Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Massages during pregnancy have often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding their safety and purpose. Modern investigation and research have shown that prenatal massage therapy can be an instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.
A distinction should be made between therapeutic prenatal massage and perineal massage, the latter referring to the practice of manually stretching the tissues surrounding the birth canal to help reduce the risk of episiotomy or trauma associated with childbirth.
Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. The APA works with some massage therapists who are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications.
Massage and Pregnancy: Benefits of prenatal massage
Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage.
Swedish Massage aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body. Swedish Massage is the recommended massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts.
Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health.
In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).
These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.
Reduction of swelling
Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluids in swollen joints. This also improves the removal of tissue waste carried by the body’s lymph system.
Improvement of nerve pain
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves.
Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through massage.
Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:
Precautions for prenatal massage?
As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.
Body position during a prenatal massage
Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.
Seek an appropriate massage therapist
It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist. Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs.
They are aware of how to position you safely and prevent strain to the uterine ligaments. They are also able to watch for symptoms of blood clots and varicose veins.
Women who have recently experienced bleeding, pre-term contractions, or have any of the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:
Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?
Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased risk for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Prenatal Massage as part of Prenatal Care
The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement shown to improve pregnancy outcome and maternal health. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar;20(1):31-8.
2. Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun;25(2):115-22.
3. Howell, Julie, NMT, PMT, Prenatal Health Through Massage Therapy: For Women and Their Babies.
Swedish massage and deep tissue massage are both popular types of massage therapy. While there are some similarities, the pressure, technique, intended use, and areas of focus make Swedish and deep tissue different from each other.
Here are the key differences between these two massage styles, along with tips on choosing the right therapist for you.
About Swedish massage
Swedish massage is one of the most commonly offered massage techniques. It’s sometimes called a classic massage. The technique aims to promote relaxation by releasing muscle tension.
Swedish massage is gentler than deep tissue massage and better suited for people interested in relaxation and tension relief. Swedish massage may loosen up tight muscles caused by daily activities such as sitting at the computer or exercising. It can be very helpful for people who hold a lot of tension in their lower back, shoulders, or neck.
What happens during a Swedish massage?
During a Swedish massage, therapists use kneading, long strokes, deep circular movements, and passive joint movements. These techniques are meant to relax you, stimulate nerve endings, and increase blood flow and lymph drainage.
A traditional Swedish massage involves the whole body. You will begin on either your back or your stomach and flip over at the halfway point. If you have an area of particular concern, such as a tight neck, you can ask your therapist to spend more time in this area. Depending on your preferences, you can ask your massage therapist to use light, medium, or firm pressure.
During most full-body massages the expectation is you’ll be undressed. Your massage therapist will ask you to undress for your massage while they wait outside. It’s up to you whether or not to keep your underwear on. Your massage therapist will drape a sheet over your body, which they will pull back and adjust as they work their way around. You will be covered most of the time.
Your massage therapist will use an oil or lotion to allow for smooth and long stokes. They may also ask if you have a preferred scent for aromatherapy.
About deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but it goes farther. Deep tissue massage targets the inner layers of your muscles, tendons, and fascia (dense connective tissue). Deep tissue massage uses many of the same stroking and kneading movements as Swedish massage, but there is far more pressure. This pressure can sometimes be painful.
Deep tissue massage is best suited for athletes, runners, and people with injuries. It can also work for people with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain.
This type of massage facilitates healing by releasing contracted areas of muscle and tissue. It can help increase blood flow to the soft tissues and may help to reduce inflammation.
What happens during a deep tissue massage?
Before a deep tissue massage, you will discuss your problem areas with your therapist. A deep tissue massage can be full-body or focus only on one area. You will begin lying on your back or stomach, under a sheet. It’s up to you to what level you undress.
Deep tissue massages begin as a more traditional relaxation massage. After the muscles are warmed up, your massage therapist will begin to work deep into your problem areas. In addition to their palms, finger tips, and knuckles, your therapist may use their forearms or elbows to increase pressure.
It’s important to be open with your massage therapist about the level of pressure and discomfort you wish to endure. This may be different for certain areas and throughout the massage, feel free to communicate with your massage therapist before and during the massage. Some massage therapists find pain to be counterproductive to the process and expect you to speak up if the pain is too much.
You should expect a fair amount of soreness in the days following your deep tissue massage. Your therapist may recommend treating with ice, heat, or stretching.
Which massage works best?
Swedish and deep tissue massages are very similar. The primary difference is the level of pressure involved. If you’re looking for relaxation and relief from tense, tight muscles, Swedish massage is probably right for you. If you’re recovering from an injury, deep tissue massage can be a helpful part of your treatment plan. Feel free to ask questions before you book a massage and to communicate feedback to your therapist during a massage.
source: Corinne O’Keefe Osborn www.healthline.com
Sitting in front of a computer every day can wreak havoc on your body, especially since most of us don't have the best posture.
Hunching the shoulders and slumping in your seat can cause back pain, headaches, tension, and tightness in your back, neck, and shoulders.
Studies show that regular stretching can help reduce neck and shoulder pain and they also show that regular breaks to stand and stretch increases productivity at the office.
Not only do you reduce pain and tension, but those flexibility breaks allow your eyes to rest and your entire body to feel more comfortable.
The following flexibility exercises are designed for office workouts with an emphasis on the neck, back, shoulders, hips, and glutes. Do them as often as you can and you'll notice less tightness and maybe even more productivity.
1. Chest Stretch
Stretching the chest may be one of the best exercises you can do for your body since most of us spend much of our time hunched forward.
For this exercise, you can use a resistance band and take it overhead to get a deeper stretch of the chest muscles. If you don't have a band, don't worry. Just lace your fingers together or take the arms straight out to the sides.
You can also find a doorway and put your forearms on either side, gently pressing forward until you feel a stretch in the chest.
Do It Right
In a seated or standing position, take the arms behind you and, if you can, lace your fingers together. Straighten the arms and gently lift your hands up a few inches until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Avoid this move if you have shoulder problems.
2. Shoulder Shrugs
The shoulders and neck hold a lot of stress and tension from typing, clicking, and scrunching.
In fact, most of us probably hunch much more than we realize, making the traps and the shoulders muscles tight with tension.
Get the blood moving through your traps and shoulders with shrugs. After typing or working for a long time, this move just feels good.
Do It Right
Seated or standing, lift the shoulders up towards the ears, squeezing them as hard as you can. Hold for 1-2 seconds and roll them back as you relax down. Repeat for 8-10 reps and then roll the shoulders forward.
3. Upper Back Stretch
While the shoulder shrugs will help get the circulation going, this upper back stretch will get all the muscles between the shoulder blades as well as the traps and the shoulders.
Just think how tight your shoulders and upper back are right now and you'll make this stretch your go-to stretch all day long.
Do It Right
Seated or standing, stretch the arms straight out and rotate the hands so that the palms face away from each other. Cross the arms so that the palms are pressed together, contract the abs and round the back, reaching away as you relax the head.
Don't collapse but, instead, imagine you're curving up and over an imaginary ball. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. If twisting the arms doesn't feel good, simply lace the fingers together.
4. Spinal Twist
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can also affect the lower back, leaving it tight and achy.
This twisting stretch will help gently work out some of that tension. Don't go too far on this — you only need to rotate a little to feel this stretch.
Do It Right
In a seated position with the feet flat on the floor, contract the abs and gently rotate the torso towards the right, using your hands on the chair handles to help deepen the stretch.
Only twist as far as you comfortably can and keep the back straight while keeping the hips square. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
5. Torso Stretch
Even if you pay attention to your posture, you may find yourself sinking back into a hunched position, which can make your backache.
This simple move will stretch all the muscles in your back, sides, and arms. You can also take the arms to either side to deepen the stretch down the sides of the torso.
Do It Right
Seated or standing, lace the fingers together and stretch them up towards the ceiling.
Take a deep breath as you stretch up as high as you can, then exhale and open the arms, sweeping them back down. Repeat for 8-10 reps.
6. Forearm Stretch
You may not even realize how tight your forearms can get from typing until you stretch them out. This simple move helps stretch those muscles in the forearms and wrists.
Do It Right
Seated or standing, stretch the right arm out and turn the hand down so that the fingers point towards the floor.
Use the left hand to gently pull the fingers towards you, feeling a stretch in the forearm. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other hand.
7. Neck Stretch
How tight is your neck right now? If you do this neck stretch, you'll find out.
Holding tension in the neck can lead to headaches and upper back tension as well.
Many of us drop the head forward when working on the computer, which can put extra stress on the neck muscles.
Your head can weigh up to 11 pounds (more if you're smarter!), so just imagine how much stress that puts on your entire body.
Do It Right
Sitting in your chair, reach down and grab the side of the chair with the right hand and gently pull while tilting your head to the left, feeling a stretch down the right side of the neck and shoulder. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
8. Hip Flexor Stretch
The lower body also gets tight from sitting too much, especially the front of the hips.
When you sit, the glutes stretch while the hip flexors get tighter. Stretching this area several times a day can help reduce that tightness and, plus, it gets you up and out of the chair, which offers some immediate relief.
Do It Right
While standing, take the right leg back a few feet. Bend the back knee, almost like you're doing a lunge and lower the knees until you feel a stretch in the front of the right hip.
Squeeze the glutes of the back leg to deepen the stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
9. Seated Hip Stretch
All of the muscles in the thighs get tight from too much sitting and this very simple move helps open up the hips.This helps stretch the complex series of muscles in the hips and glutes. It feels great after a long day of sitting.
Do It Right
While seated, cross the right ankle over the left knee and sit up nice and tall.Gently lean forward, keeping the back straight and reaching out with the torso until you feel a stretch in the right glute and hip. You can also press down on the right knee to deepen the stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Skip this move if it bothers the knees.
10. Inner Thigh Stretch
This stretch doesn't look very professional, so you definitely want to do this when no one's around.
Beyond that, it's an excellent stretch for the inner thighs, hips, and groin.
This builds on the previous exercise, opening the hips and get rid of tightness and tension in the lower body.
Do It Right
While seated, take the legs wide, toes out and lean forward with the elbows on the thighs. Keep the back straight and the abs contracted.
Gently press forward while using the elbows to push the thighs out until you feel a stretch in the inner thighs. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat as many times as you like.
source: Paige Waehner, www.verywellfit.com
Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. It often feels like an ache, stiffness or tension in the back or surroundings areas. The back pain usually triggered by bad posture while standing or sitting, bending or lifting incorrectly. Back pain is not generally caused by a serious condition and, in most cases, will improve by taking actions.
How does the back work?
The back is complicated structure built around the bones of the spinal column. The spine consists of 24 bones (vertebrae) sitting one on top of another. It sits on the pelvis and topped by the skull. The bones of the spine are connected by discs at the front and facet joints, give the spinal column its flexibility.
Types of back pain
Massage therapy to treat back pain
Research shows that massage therapy has many potential health benefits for back pain sufferers, including:
Our physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem and get you back to your normal activities.
After you finish working out, what do you do? If you’re like most of us, you walk it off and relax. Maybe jump in the shower or grab a snack to refuel. However, that may not be the smartest choice. This pro post will let you know the top 10 reasons it’s important to stretch after a workout. The reasons range from reducing soreness to increasing endorphins.
Different stretches will benefit you in different ways, so consult your personal trainer to find what’s best for you before you begin doing post-workout stretches. Stretching after you exercise is one of the best ways to improve your health and reduce post-workout pain.
This pro post comes to you from Gyles Abbott of Fitbot Training, a personal trainer on Bidvine.
If you’re interested in learning more, read on to find the top 10 reasons to stretch after a workout.
So often stretching after exercise is overlooked, when in fact, it should be seen as part of your session. In my teens and early twenties I used to be as guilty as the next man, stretching didn’t even cross my mind after a game of football or squash. As my body got older my muscles got sore and my flexibility decreased because I was ignoring this essential element of training.
Top 10 Reasons to Stretch After a Workout
1. Stiffness and Soreness
During a hard workout, muscles go through numerous contractions which leave them in a miss-shaped and shortened state, which is why you will feel stiffness and soreness if you don’t try and rectify the state by stretching.
2. Lactic Acid
Your body produces lactic acid which makes your muscles tired and sore, stretching helps to eliminate the lactic acid.
Endorphins are released after a workout once your body starts to cool down, stretching helps slow the cooling process ensuring you feel energised after your workout.
4. Blood Flow
Stretching helps the blood flow back into your muscles at a more regulated pace, allowing your heart rate to come back to normal, your muscles feed on oxygen and nutrients brought in by the blood
5. Lower Back Pain
The most common complaint amongst my clients when they first come to me is the lower back area. Nine times out of ten stretching the hamstrings and hip flexors, muscles that are attached to the pelvis, will relieve that pain.
6. General Posture
General posture is improved, people tend to stand up straighter particularly if you focus on stretching backs, shoulders and chests
7. Tension and Anxiety
General tension and anxiety lead to tension in your muscles, whether that’s stiff necks or tight shoulders. Releasing and stretching those muscles often leads to an overall feeling of stress relief.
Increased flexibility, which will happen the more you stretch, will enable you to exercise more effectively.
9. Toned Muscles
Stretching over time will give your muscles tone and your body will look more slender. You only need to look at the bodies of those that practice Yoga on a regular basis.
10. Reduce the Risk of Injury
Last but by no means least you reduce the risk of injury as you will have an improved range of motion, which in turn decreases resistance on your muscles.
Static stretching is suitable for after exercise and each time you go into a stretch hold for 25 to 30 seconds, just enough time for the muscle to regain its shape.
Foam rolling is a great addition to your stretching routine, especially if you have a part of your body that is particularly tight, it also increases circulation and helps to lower your heart rate.
Think of stretching as a way of resetting and gaining equilibrium after putting your body through stress. Rather than seeing it as an optional part of your workout think of stretching as part of your session, you will be maximising the benefits off all the hard work you’ve put in.
reference: Gyles Abbott, personal trainer https://www.bidvine.com
Everybody seems to talk about what you should be doing during a massage treatment, but what about after?
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your session.
1. Drink Water.
We know that 75% of our body is made up of water. When we don’t get the necessary amount, our body starts to shut down, starting with non-crucial functions first. Massage helps to increase the circulation of both the lymphatic system and the blood. After your massage treatment you should be drinking at least a litre of water. Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can be counterproductive to your hydration efforts so it’s also a good idea to avoid these drinks following your massage.
2. Refuel your body
After your muscles have been relieved of all their stress and tension your body needs a fuel boost. Have a little snack on hand to have after your treatment.
Massage is not just work on the body; it is work on the mind too. After a massage you need even more sleep to help your body process the toxins and repair. You feel more relaxed , your muscles are looser, you feel content and calm. Listen to your body. If you feel like having a sleep, do it.
Make time for yourself and your body will thank you.
A type of massage that is becoming more and more popular for both therapists and clients is Tui Na massage. This treatment is a powerful form of Chinese medical bodywork that addresses specific patterns of disharmony in the body. Tui Na seeks to improve the flow of qi through the meridian channels based on the same Oriental medical principles as acupuncture.
Main Benefits of Tuina massage