Frequently people come to me with an injury or painful area they want to address. My job as a massage therapist is to treat that pain to the best of my ability and hopefully educate my clients on how they can avoid that injury or pain in the future. Usually, my clients are less interested in how massage helps as long as it does help, but the why is important to me.
There is no doubt that massage has mechanical properties that improve tissue quality. By that I mean there are physical changes that take place in muscles that are being massaged, but in my opinion that is not where the greatest difference is made.
Based on my experience and training, the reason massage can work so well in treating injuries is its ability to remind the body to fix itself.
The body is an amazing machine. It can identify and adjust for problems faster than it takes our mind to realize there is a problem at all. Just think about when you touch a hot stove and recoil before you even realized something was happening. You didn’t tell your arm to shoot away from the stove; it just did it because it saw a problem and immediately fixed it. This is an incredible feedback mechanism that engineers can’t even dream of recreating.
Unfortunately, sometimes where it hurts is not where the pain is caused. This creates a problem for the body that is trying to relieve the pain because it doesn’t know how to repair the source of the pain. The body constantly loses the battle for relief. This is where I come in as a therapist. If I can find and remind the body what the source of the pain is, the body will respond by going to that location or muscle and fixing the problem. Eventually, with the source repaired, the pain will go away as well. Sometimes the relief is instant and sometimes it takes a few treatments, but finding and treating the source is the best way to create long term relief.
I hope I haven’t made this too confusing. The best way I can sum it up is by saying that the body is excellent at repairing itself. Sometimes it gets confused as to what needs fixing. My job as a massage therapist is to remind the body what the source of the pain is and allow it to heal the problem in its own brilliant way.
There is no question that I can make changes to muscles by massaging them, but I mostly see my job as getting out of the way so the body can take care of itself. It will do a far better job than I can ever imagine doing.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear about your experiences with massage and healing yourself.