Massage or Myofascial Release Differences

So, what is myofascial release? How is myofascial release different from massage?

Massage is one of the most common holistic therapies for relaxation, pain relief and healing. Rubbing, tapping and other manipulation of the soft tissue increase circulation, decrease stress, relieve pain, balance hormones and provide nurturing touch.

Myofascial release (MFR) is another form of holistic bodywork. It is the application of gentle sustained pressure into the fascial tissue to eliminate pain and restore motion. These techniques may be used alone or with other manual therapy techniques like massage.

Both massage and myofascial release bring relaxation, comfort, pain relief and improved function, but there are significant differences.

What is the fascia? The fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue wrapping around the muscles, organs and bones throughout the body. Physical injury, emotional trauma, bad posture, stress and inflammation all contribute to tightness and restriction in the fascia—a condition that throws off every other part of the body in a domino-like effect. Tight fascia can bring imbalance, pain and impaired function. Since fascia connects throughout the body, we may experience symptoms in one part of the body, when the root cause is elsewhere. (Examples: Headaches may be caused by a problem in the pelvis, or wrist pain may be caused by a problem in the neck or shoulder.)

Myofascial release reduces pain, increases range of motion and balances the entire body. MFR utilizes special techniques that stretch the fascial tissue, effectively releasing accumulated tension and trauma. In response, the fascia becomes more flexible and “reorganizes” itself. This allows muscles and bones to return to their natural, pain-free positions, tissues to become hydrated and nourished and toxins to be released. In summary, MFR provides deeper healing and lasts much longer than massage.

Experience the Difference

  1. Full Body or Focus Work? Massage often offers a full-body experience, while myofascial release may focus on specific areas that need attention. Myofascial release looks for the cause of the issue, not the symptom.
  2. Lotion or Oil? Massage typically uses oil, lotion or creme for a smoother glide in Swedish style or less oil for slower, deeper work. Myofascial release rarely uses lubricants unless massage is blended with the technique.
  3. Draping and clothing? During massage, clients often remove most clothing with draping used to cover the body. In myofascial release, clients may wear shorts and sports bras (for women) with less draping required. This allows for better assessment before treatment, as well as more stretching and body movement during the session.
  4. Participation. During a massage, you can just allow the therapist to take over and you “enjoy the ride.” In an MFR treatment, you may be asked to participate and give more feedback.
  5. Emotions. Most massages relieve stress and calm the emotions. Myofascial release may “wake up” emotions trapped in tissues, thereby allowing you to face past issues in a safe and comfortable atmosphere for deeper and longer-lasting healing.

Different Results?

  1. Relaxation. Massage relaxes the elastic fibers in muscles while myofascial release goes deeper, releasing stored tension in the collagenous level of the connective tissue. This brings greater release of tight tissue with more lasting results.
  2. Circulation. Massage increases circulation by opening superficial blood vessels, bathing tissues with valuable oxygen, water and nutrition. Myofascial release also increases circulation, but at a level deeper in the fascia, going into the cellular level.
  3. Range of Motion. Massage improves flexibility by superficially loosening muscles and other connective tissues. Myofascial release opens connective tissue much deeper than massage, allowing for a more sustained increase in motion.
  4. Pain Relief. Massage decreases pain by relaxing muscles, removing toxins and increasing pleasurable signals to the brain. Myofascial release goes more to the source of pain by releasing fascial restrictions and reducing the “muscle knots,” which are comprised of shortened, dry and painful soft tissue.
  5. Emotional Healing. Massage is very comforting and nurturing by the very nature of the technique—caring hands providing support. Myofascial release delivers the same feeling but can also unlock emotional trauma that has been stored deep in the fascial tissue for years or decades. This can bring a new level of healing.

Introductory Offer: Free 30-minute consultation with first visit.

Lymphatic Massage Helps Heal Surgeries

Seven Ways Lymphatic Massage Helps Heal Liposuction, Tummy Tuck and Breast Augmentation Surgeries

Cosmetic surgery can give you desired physical enhancements, but healing and recovery are often accelerated with skilled bodywork. Liposuction, tummy tucks and breast augmentation are invasive surgeries that may require extensive healing. Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release and specialized massage techniques can enhance the skilled work of your surgeon.

Your body is about two-thirds water. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that returns and filters extracellular fluids. It is also an important part of your immune system. Lymphatic Drainage enhances these functions and promotes surgical healing.

  1. Start with a Preoperative Session. Improve your outcome with a preoperative consultation and massage. Therapy before surgery prepares tissues for surgery, decreases stress and relaxes your body. Your therapist may take baseline body measurements and give helpful advice. This is the best time to schedule your postoperative appointments. Massage can also help you sleep well before your surgery.
  2. Easy Does It with Postop Swelling. Many surgeons recommend Lymphatic Drainage after surgery for better healing. This gentle and relaxing therapy reduces swelling, filters debris and returns fluids back into the blood stream. Loose proteins are pulled out of the tissues and returned to the blood (proteins can cause swelling.) Tissues are decongested, healing is enhanced and immunity is boosted. Be sure to get a release from your surgeon for lymphatic massage therapy.
  3. Trust Your Guardian Angel. An expert massage therapist is like having a guardian angel. An experienced surgical therapist knows what is normal and can answer your questions. Incision lines, drains, compression garments and postoperative pain often bring concerns. Your therapist is a great resource and will support the surgeon’s instructions. Good advice and affirmation can help you sleep well. (The massage helps, too!)
  4. Gentle Release of Tissue Tightness. Any surgery causes tissue layers to stick together, forming adhesions and scars. Lymphatic Drainage with Myofascial Release relaxes tight tissues, drains fluids and improves movement.
  5. Standing Up Straight. Cosmetic surgery on the abdomen can pull you forward. Skilled therapy opens your frontline allowing you to proudly stand up straight. Your back muscles will also need care to relieve tension caused by effects of surgery and postural accommodation.
  6. Maintain Your Beauty Treatments. Within two months, your body stabilizes and you should be able to transition to regular maintenance treatments. Whether you need relief of body aches, stress release from daily hassles or just relaxation, you deserve regular bodywork. Your therapist knows your body and can provide holistic health maintenance.
  7. Save Money with Packages. Check with your therapist for prepayment options or other discounts. Make a commitment in advance for therapy that will speed your recovery and provide valuable support during healing.

Low Back Pain in Women

Low back pain is very common but difficult to accurately diagnose. It can be caused by problems in the spine or pelvis, involving the muscles, joints and/or nerves. Common sources of low back pain are:

  1. Injured Spinal Bones and Discs. Physicians can identify many problems with the spinal bones and discs through assessment and diagnostic tests. Fractured or damaged spinal bones are usually diagnosed on x-rays or other scans and physicians follow treatment protocols. Herniated or ruptured discs may result in medical treatment, physical therapy or a surgical referral. Massage and bodywork can provide some relief for patients with injured spinal bones or discs, but medical consultations are recommended.
  2. Low Back Muscles may become tight from trauma, overuse or inactivity. Muscle spasms contribute to low back pain and usually respond well to massage, Myofascial Release and other bodywork. Pain medication and muscle relaxers may provide temporary relief, but do not usually correct the problem.
  3. Pelvic Joints. Pelvic rotation and muscle tension create shearing forces in the pelvic joints, particularly at lumbar sacral (L5–S1) and the sacroiliac (SI) joints. Pelvic stabilization, Myofascial Release, mobilization techniques and postural correction can realign the pelvis and release tension in tight fascia, muscles and ligaments that distort pelvic joints.
  4. Pelvic Muscles. Tight gluteal, piriformis and other hip muscles may be the cause of low back pain, but are often missed by healthcare workers. Muscle tension can distort the normal position of bones in the pelvis and lower back, causing pain and numbness in the low back, hips or legs. Bodywork from a well-trained therapist can often effectively relieve low back pain and restore function without the use of medication.

“Piriformis Syndrome” versus Sciatica. True sciatica is rare. Piriformis syndrome is different from true sciatica. Sciatica is usually defined as a radiculopathy, or compression of a nerve root as it exits the spine. However, just like sciatica, piriformis syndrome can cause pain, numbness and tingling along the sciatic nerve, which runs down the back of the leg and into the foot.

Low back pain should always prompt an assessment of the buttocks muscles. When the pain is localized in the low back, treatment of buttocks muscles is not always considered. Tight piriformis muscles may be the cause of low back pain and not be recognized by physicians and bodyworkers. These muscles rotate the leg externally and are connected between the anterior sacrum and greater trochanter. Tight piriformis muscles can not only pinch the sciatic nerve (that goes up to the lumbar spine), but can also create shearing forces in the lumbar sacral area. Medical treatment often includes anti-inflammatory and pain medications, but the majority of sciatic-like pain problems are in the soft tissue and may be resolved by an experienced therapist without medication.

Piriformis syndrome is more common with women, runners and very active people. Extended sitting and weak gluteal muscles can also cause this problem. Females are affected more than males (6:1) because of the shape of the pelvis, monthly hormones and pregnancy. Medical evaluation is necessary for persistent symptoms that do not respond to stretching and bodywork.

Self-Care Stretches. Stretches can effectively relieve tension and pain when the proper muscles are engaged and the stretches are sustained for at least 3 to 5 minutes. Chronic issues may require regular stretching and therapy as part of your routine. Even though muscle tightness is not the

culprit for all low back pain, regular stretches can improve function and decrease pain for most. Effective stretching involves finding the tight muscles while in the stretch and holding that position until you feel decreased pain or tightness. Although shorter stretches (less than one minute) feel good, tight fibers within the muscles and fascia require at least 3 to 5 minutes to release stored tension. While in the stretch, wait until you feel the pain soften. You can then change the angle of your stretch to grab a new area of tightness and maintain this hold for full release. When stretches are done effectively, restricted tissue is opened layer by layer. Daily stretching and regular therapy should restore comfort and function for these low back and buttock issues, as well as enhance other health and healing. An experienced therapist can release muscles and tissue at a deeper level, along with providing suggestions and encouragement for self-care.

Basic Stretch for Buttocks Muscles. Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Pull your right knee up to your chest, grasp the knee with your left hand and pull it towards your left shoulder. Hold the stretch until the pain softens. Start with short stretches and increase the length of the hold, as tolerated. (Sustained relief of muscle tension requires at least 3 to 5 minutes.) When the pain or tension softens, adjust the angle of the stretch to a new area of tightness or pain. Repeat for each side. A variation of this stretch is resting the ankle over the opposite knee for support and control of the stretch. This stretch can also be done in the “down dog” (on hands and knees) or sitting positions.

First Aid for Acute Pain. For sudden onset of low back pain or an acute flare-up, rest your lower back and apply ice. Try lying flat on your back with your knees bent to rest the lumbar area. More relief may be found while lying flat on your back with your hips bent 90 degrees and your legs resting on the seat of a chair that is pulled against your upper legs. Flexing the hips rotates the pelvis and flattens the lower back, decompressing the lower spine. Ice reduces inflammation within 72 hours of an acute injury. Using ice any time can be a simple and effective pain reliever.

Recovery Exercises for Low Back Pain. Recovery from low back pain may be gradual, but you can improve healing and function by adding simple exercises with continued stretches. Start with low back extension exercises while lying flat on your back on the floor with your knees up (hips are flexed about 45 degrees.) Press the low back flat against the floor and hold it. Ensure that you are flattening your low back by sliding your hand between the low back and the floor. Press the low back flat against the floor and hold for 10 seconds and then relax. Try doing three sets per day of 10 presses each set and work up from there. Most persons will notice results within a few days, but adding this routine to other daily exercises and stretches will improve the health of your back and abdominal core. This exercise extends the low back

(decompressing the low back), activates and relaxes low back muscles, rotates the pelvis upward and activates core abdominal muscles.

Low back pain often causes the muscles next to your spine to go into spasm and you may notice guarding as your body prevents full movement even after the pain has dissipated. Resting your back with your knees elevated and gradually increasing activity will help these muscles relax. Heat is very effective to promote circulation and healing, but not within 72 hours of an injury. Stretches, light exercise, massage and Myofascial Release will restore tight or injured tissues to greater function with decreased pain.

Strengthening your core is important for back health. Consult a trainer for the best exercises for you and your situation. Balanced muscles in the abdomen and back with proper hip position will bring health and better function in your daily activities.

Balanced Pelvis. The word pelvis in Latin means basin, describing its shape, and symbolizes the centrality and foundation for structure and function. The female pelvis is wider, shorter and more spacious than the male pelvis to accommodate fetal development and birthing. This shape makes it more vulnerable to rotation and imbalance, especially with the presence of the relaxin hormone during each menstrual cycle and throughout each pregnancy. The entire pelvic structure and surrounding tissues are stressed during pregnancy and delivery. As a result, many women develop an imbalanced pelvis, which causes asymmetrical movement with excessive tension on lower body muscles, ligaments and joints. Forward tilt of the female pelvis and a rotational twist of the pelvic ring are common pelvic imbalances and can lead to pain and dysfunction throughout the body. This may involve pain in the hips, legs or lower back. It can also contribute to neck, jaw and headache pain. Pelvic imbalance can be gradually corrected through stretches, exercises and conscious postural adjustments. A trained therapist can provide specific treatment to balance your pelvis and recommend self-care. Having a balanced pelvis will contribute to healthier function and decreased pain.

Back to Basics. Low back pain and other annoying health problems usually affect the entire body and are a reminder to focus on fundamental health and wellness. Start with finding enough time for sleep and rest. Managing your stress will avoid many acute and chronic health problems. Healthy diet and hydration are essential for your body to fight diseases and maintain good health. Your exercise routine should include stretching, strengthening and increased heart rate (aerobic) at least three times per week. A well-trained therapist can assist you with holistic bodywork and guidance for daily self-care.

Steve Metzger, RN-CMT, is an advanced Myofascial Release Therapist with Revive Therapy in Sacramento, California, specializing in holistic women’s health and sports bodywork.

 

Massage vs. Myofascial Release

So, what is myofascial release? How is myofascial release different from massage?

Massage is one of the most common holistic therapies for relaxation, pain relief and healing. Rubbing, tapping and other manipulation of the soft tissue increase circulation, decrease stress, relieve pain, balance hormones and provide nurturing touch.

Myofascial release (MFR) is another form of holistic bodywork. It is the application of gentle sustained pressure into the fascial tissue to eliminate pain and restore motion. These techniques may be used alone or with other manual therapy techniques like massage.

Both massage and myofascial release bring relaxation, comfort, pain relief and impr­oved function, but there are significant differences.

What is the fascia? The fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue wrapping around the muscles, organs and bones throughout the body. Physical injury, emotional trauma, bad posture, stress and inflammation all contribute to tightness and restriction in the fascia—a condition that throws off every other part of the body in a domino-like effect. Tight fascia can bring imbalance, pain and impaired function. Since fascia connects throughout the body, we may experience symptoms in one part of the body, when the root cause is elsewhere. (Examples: Headaches may be caused by a problem in the pelvis, or wrist pain may be caused by a problem in the neck or shoulder.)

Myofascial release reduces pain, increases range of motion and balances the entire body. MFR utilizes special techniques that stretch the fascial tissue, effectively releasing accumulated tension and trauma. In response, the fascia becomes more flexible and “reorganizes” itself. This allows muscles and bones to ­return to their natural, pain-free positions, tissues to become hydrated and nourished and toxins to be released. In summary, MFR provides deeper healing and lasts much longer than massage.

Since fascia connects throughout the body, we may experience symptoms in one part of the body, when the root cause is elsewhere.

Experience the Difference:

  1. Full Body or Focus Work? Massage often offers a full-body experience, while myofascial release may focus on specific areas that need attention. Myofascial release looks for the cause of the issue, not the symptom.
  2. Lotion or Oil? Massage typically uses oil, lotion or creme for a smoother glide in Swedish style or less oil for slower, deeper work. Myofascial release rarely uses lubricants unless massage is blended with the technique.
  3. Draping and clothing? During massage, clients often remove most clothing with draping used to cover the body. In myofascial release, clients may wear shorts and sports bras (for women) with less draping required. This allows for better assessment before treatment, as well as more stretching and body movement during the session.
  4. During a massage, you can just allow the therapist to take over and you “enjoy the ride.” In an MFR treatment, you may be asked to participate and give more feedback.
  5. Most massages relieve stress and calm the emotions. Myofascial release may “wake up” emotions trapped in tissues, thereby allowing you to face past issues in a safe and comfortable atmosphere for deeper and longer-lasting healing.
  6. Massage relaxes the elastic fibers in muscles while myofascial release goes deeper, releasing stored tension in the collagenous level of the connective tissue. This brings greater release of tight tissue with more lasting results.
  7. Massage increases circulation by opening superficial blood vessels, bathing tissues with valuable oxygen, water and nutrition. Myofascial release also increases circulation, but at a level deeper in the fascia, going into the cellular level.
  8. Range of Motion. Massage improves flexibility by superficially loosening muscles and other connective tissues. Myofascial release opens connective tissue much deeper than massage, allowing for a more sustained increase in motion.
  9. Pain Relief. Massage decreases pain by relaxing muscles, removing toxins and increasing pleasurable signals to the brain. Myofascial release goes more to the source of pain by releasing fascial restrictions and reducing the “muscle knots,” which are comprised of shortened, dry and painful soft tissue.
  10. Emotional Healing. Massage is very comforting and nurturing by the very nature of the technique—caring hands providing support. Myofascial release delivers the same feeling but can also unlock emotional trauma that has been stored deep in the fascial tissue for years or decades. This can bring a new level of healing.

Lymphatic Massage Helps Heal Surgeries

Cosmetic surgery can give you desired physical enhancements, but healing and recovery are often accelerated with skilled bodywork. Liposuction, tummy tucks and breast augmentation are invasive surgeries that may require extensive healing. Lymphatic drainage, Myofascial release and specialized massage techniques can enhance the skilled work of your surgeon.

Your body is about two-thirds water. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that returns and filters extracellular fluids. It is also an important part of your immune system. Lymphatic drainage enhances these functions and promotes surgical healing.

  1. Start with a Preoperative Session. Improve your outcome with a preoperative consultation and massage. Therapy before surgery prepares tissues for surgery, decreases stress and relaxes your body. Your therapist may take baseline body measurements and give helpful advice. This is the best time to schedule your postoperative appointments. Massage can also help you sleep well before your surgery.
  2. Easy Does It with Postop Swelling. Many surgeons recommend lymphatic drainage after surgery for better healing. This gentle and relaxing therapy reduces swelling, filters debris and returns fluids back into the blood stream. Loose proteins are pulled out of the tissues and returned to the blood (proteins can cause swelling.) Tissues are decongested, healing is enhanced and immunity is boosted. Be sure to get a release from your surgeon for lymphatic massage therapy.
  3. Trust Your Guardian Angel. An expert massage therapist is like having a guardian angel. An experienced surgical therapist knows what is normal and can answer your questions. Incision lines, drains, compression garments and postoperative pain often bring concerns. Your therapist is a great resource and will support the surgeon’s instructions. Good advice and affirmation can help you sleep well. (The massage helps, too!)
  4. Gentle Release of Tissue Tightness. Any surgery causes tissue layers to stick together, forming adhesions and scars. Lymphatic drainage with Myofascial release relaxes tight tissues, drains fluids and improves movement.
  5. Standing Up Straight. Cosmetic surgery on the abdomen can pull you forward. Skilled therapy opens your frontline allowing you to proudly stand up straight. Your back muscles will also need care to relieve tension caused by effects of surgery and postural accommodation.
  6. Maintain Your Beauty Treatments. Within two months, your body stabilizes and you should be able to transition to regular maintenance treatments. Whether you need relief of body aches, stress release from daily hassles or just relaxation, you deserve regular bodywork. Your therapist knows your body and can provide holistic health maintenance.
  7. Save Money with Packages. Check with your therapist for prepayment options or other discounts. Make a commitment in advance for therapy that will speed your recovery and provide valuable support during healing.

Welcome to the Third Trimester

As you enter the third trimester, you are probably feeling well and are counting the days until the big day—delivery of the baby that you have carried for six months. The next three months will be exciting as you watch and feel your baby growing and make preparations for Baby’s arrival. Prenatal massage offers effective holistic relaxation and therapy during this important time.

Medical Appointments become more frequent. Be sure to follow medical advice and keep your appointments. Pregnancy is very normal and health professionals will assist you to prepare for a safe and healthy delivery. You should continue diet, exercise and medical routines from your first two trimesters unless advised otherwise by your doctor. These appointments can be exciting as your baby’s birth approaches.

In the Next Three Months You Can Expect significant increase in the size of Baby and your tummy. You will also experience increased size of your breasts, hips, legs and feet. Your doctor will advise you how much weight gain or swelling is normal. You can also expect more baby movement, which will give you comfort because you will know Baby is alive and well. You may start walking with the “pregnancy waddle.” You will notice other changes as you get ready for labor. Some pregnant moms will get leg cramps or numbness in arms or fingers at night. Share with your therapist your concerns so that you are more comfortable and relaxed.

Pregnancy Can Take a Toll on Your Body. Swollen legs, restlessness, fatigue, and headaches are common, especially as the due date approaches. Your shoulders, back, hips and legs will ache and you will tire more easily. Stress is often very high as you prepare for transitions in essentially every aspect of your life.

Massage for Happy Mom and Healthy Baby. Most moms enjoy relaxation during third trimester massage sessions. A skilled therapist also provides effective relief of aches, pains, muscle spasms and cramps, swelling and even numbness. As your baby grows and you approach your due date, your joints begin to loosen from the relaxin hormone that prepares you for labor, but creates discomforts and feeling “loose” with movements. Therapists with special training help the pelvis stay aligned, more comfortable and ready for delivery.

Instruction and Specialized Therapy. Your prenatal massage therapist will help you prepare for labor. Your specialized therapy will include massage treatment, information, instruction and encouragement to help with labor and delivery.

Labor Preparation. Massage therapy relaxes and provides flexibility to birthing muscles, and develops kinesthetic awareness for birthing. Many studies show that labor is shorter with fewer complications for massage clients and there is a lower incidence of C-sections. Massage can improve labor outcome by preparing the pelvis and hip muscles, reducing stress levels and increasing your confidence and knowledge before labor starts. Massage during labor by a midwife or doula is also very effective in facilitating successful labor and delivery. Health scores of babies at delivery are higher when moms receive massage therapy in the last months.

Postpartum Massage

Postpartum massage can be as important and beneficial as massage during pregnancy.

Postpartum bodywork is an effective and holistic approach for the many adjustments to motherhood. You may be surprised to receive much more than a spa retreat.

Massage is well-known for relaxation, stress reduction, pain relief and other health benefits. Unique postpartum benefits include hormone regulation, reduced swelling, better sleep and improved breastfeeding. More advanced therapy helps restore your body to its pre-pregnancy condition, speeds healing and assists with C-section recovery.

The Benefits of Postpartum Massage

Postpartum massage has been shown to be effective for a quicker recovery and better health. Integration of maternal bodywork may add welcome value to your healing journey and transition to motherhood. Consider the many benefits:

Relaxation and Stress Reduction

Massage relaxes muscles, increases circulation and lowers stress hormones, bringing relaxation and stress relief. All body systems appreciate treatment after nine months of change, culminating with the delivery of the greatest miracle in life. Some women prefer lighter pampering massage while others enjoy deeper techniques to work out the knots. Adding myofascial release and craniosacral therapy reaches deeper into the body for more complete healing. Any of these massage styles will bring relaxation and stress reduction.

Anxiety and depression respond very well to skilled therapy. About two-thirds of new moms experience temporary postpartum blues related to hormonal changes, new responsibilities and adjustment frustrations. Emotional support and the other benefits of massage can help during this transition. Postpartum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting condition that affects 10–15% of mothers. Studies show massage to be beneficial for treating postpartum depression. Don’t hesitate to consult healthcare providers for assistance, including a postpartum body worker.

Pain Relief

Residual body aches from pregnancy are normal. Adding breastfeeding and childcare can intensify arm, shoulder and

back pain. Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication. A skilled therapist may also resolve even associated numbness and tingling. Chronic or severe pain may require multiple sessions for resolution.

Hormone Regulation

Massage greatly improves postpartum hormone balance. Estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high during pregnancy and decrease after delivery. Prolactin and oxytocin hormone levels rise to facilitate breastfeeding. Studies indicate that massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Certain essential oils may also bring hormone and mood balance.

Massage also reduces naturally occurring biochemicals associated with depression (dopamine and serotonin) and cardiovascular problems

(norepinephrine), supporting Mom with the challenges of motherhood.

Decreased Swelling

Body fluids need to find balance after pregnancy, in which there was an increase of about 50% in fluid volume. Massage increases circulation and lymphatic drainage to facilitate elimination of excess fluids and waste products. Tissue stimulation assists your body to shift water to the right places. Swelling is also affected by hormones, which go through major changes after delivery. Massage helps hormone regulation, which also decreases swelling (see Hormone Regulation). Continue your high fluid intake for healing and lactation, even though you may still have swelling.

Better Sleep

Most new moms feel exhausted after labor and delivery, complicated with around-the-clock baby care. Massage will ease the fatigue, promote relaxation and assist with sleep. Studies have shown an increase in delta brain waves (those that accompany deep sleep) with massage therapy. That is why it is very common to fall asleep during a massage. Getting enough sleep is key to postpartum recovery. Everything improves when you feel rested! Arrange some help and get regular massages for better rest and sleep. One study correlated better sleep with losing the baby fat on the tummy!

Improved Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your newborn, but can also be a challenge for some moms. Massage therapy relaxes the body, increases circulation and increases milk production. Studies show that massage increases prolactin levels, a lactation hormone. Relaxation in the chest muscles opens the shoulders and improves lactation. New research indicates that breast massage helps relieve breast pain, decreases breast milk sodium and improves newborn suckling. Consult with your therapist about this service as work directly on the breasts may not be legal in some areas.

When Can a New Mother Start Massage?

You may start receiving postpartum massages as soon as you feel comfortable. Your therapists will position you comfortably if your abdomen or breasts are sore. If you have maternal complications, first consult with your medical provider.

What Positions Are Safe for Massage?

Any position is safe after delivery, but may be adjusted for your comfort or specific treatment. Some moms crave being able to lie face-down again after lying on their sides for almost nine months. Others may be uncomfortable face-down because of breast discomfort or the distraction of leaking milk. The side-lying position can be comfortable and very effective to treat specific issues of the shoulders, pelvis or legs.

May I Bring Baby to My Appointment?

Many mothers want to leave their baby in good hands and take a break. However, some moms prefer to bring their newborn with them. Ask your therapist if newborns are welcome. Some therapists support the little visitor. Newborns usually sleep a lot and an experienced therapist will adjust the routine to Baby, if needed (breastfeeding, etc.). Extra time may be necessary if bringing the little one, so get approval in advance.

Aromatherapy during a Postpartum Massage

Holistic treatment with aromatherapy can be effective therapy for postpartum moms. Essential oils are pure extractions from plants and can assist with relaxation, hormone balance, cleansing, and treatment of anxiety or depression. Most high-quality oils are safe and non-allergenic after pregnancy, but let your therapist know if you are nursing. Most aromatherapy can be diffused into the air, added to lotion or applied topically. Inquire about the therapist’s expertise in this area and if there is an additional charge.

Include Postpartum Massage in Your After-Pregnancy Care

Massage can improve post-delivery recovery and health for many women. Supplement the guidance and advice of your medical care provider with massage to support the transition to your new maternal role. A trained therapist will assist you with physical, emotional and educational support as you find the joy of motherhood. Consult with your physician if you have had any complications or have concerns before beginning any new therapeutic practice.

American Pregnancy Association website: http://americanpregnancy.org/firstyearoflife/postpartum-massage.html

5 Amazing Benefits of Massage Therapy

Doctors today are quick to prescribe medicine or recommend surgery before trying something often more effective like massage therapy. In most cases, the body can heal itself, especially with the right kind of holistic bodywork to jumpstart the process. One form of bodywork is massage, which has countless benefits.

The key to getting an excellent massage is finding the right massage therapist – someone with whom you feel safe; someone who is engaged and listens attentively, someone who has the depth of skills to effectively treat, and someone who responds caringly to your needs. Energy and compassion are also essential attributes; someone whose touch leaves you with a sense of returning home to your body and soul. With that foundation, here are just five of the wonderful benefits of massage:

1. Relaxation by releasing stored physical and emotional pain
Massage will revive your body and improve your health.

2. Pain relief
Massage brings comfort by relieving tension, improving function and restoring circulation.

3. Stress reduction by reducing pain and eliminating tension
Massage will also assist you to effectively cope with the daily pressures of life.

4. Improved Immunity
Massage boosts the immune system, enhances clarify, and alleviates depression.

5. Alignment of your mind, body and spirit
Massage will help you recover from any of the following:

  • Pain, chronic or acute
  • Tension of muscles
  • Hormonal regulation and balance
  • Abuse: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Over-exertion or physical stress
  • Poor posture
  • Surgery
  • Chronic illness

Want to give your massage session a booster shot?

Research indicates that myofascial release deepens and extends the healing effects of massage. Learn about myofascial release

Why use medicine?

Massage therapy is an effective holistic remedy for health, healing and balance. Many Western doctors are quick to prescribe chemicals that have side effects. Your body is just waiting for the right bodywork to heal itself. Don’t rush to the pharmacy! Rush to a good therapist for safe and effective healing!

Is surgery recommended?

Many bodywork techniques can delay or eliminate the need for surgery, especially when myofascial release applied. Surgery leaves residual scarring and impaired function. Find a skilled therapist that engages the inner physician for natural and effective healing without surgery. When surgery is necessary, go to an experienced therapist for preoperative and postoperative care.

Are you modest or nervous about bodywork?

Massage can be done with clothes on or off, enabling you to receive healing touch within your parameters of comfort.

Introductory Offer: Free 30 minute consultation with first visit

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