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  • Writer's pictureAndray Voronov

The Myth Of The Might Massage: Is Harder Neccessarily Better?


Introduction

Hello there! I am Dr Andray Voronov, an experienced osteopath in Narre Warren, and today, I am here to debunk a widely-held misconception about massage therapy. Many people believe that the harder the massage, the better the results. In fact, some even wear their ability to endure intense massages like a badge of honour. But is more force really the key to unlocking those stubborn knots and scar tissue?


As a specialist in movement nutrition, I believe that there is a more nuanced approach to massage therapy, one that involves using touch and the specific application of force to communicate with the nervous system. Join me as I discuss the science behind the myth of the mighty massage, supported by research studies, and offer practical tips for achieving better health and wellness.


Understanding Muscle Knots and Scar Tissue

To begin, let's take a closer look at muscle knots and scar tissue. Muscle knots, also known as myofascial trigger points, are small, tight areas in the muscle tissue. They can cause pain and stiffness, and sometimes even refer pain to other areas of the body [1].

Scar tissue, on the other hand, is the body's natural response to injury. It is formed when fibrous connective tissue replaces normal tissue, usually as a result of an injury or surgery [2]. While scar tissue is not inherently bad, it can sometimes cause discomfort, tightness, and decreased range of motion.


The Misconception of the Mighty Massage

A common belief is that applying excessive force during a massage will "break down" these knots and scar tissue, thereby providing relief. However, this is not the case. No amount of pressure applied by human hands can denature muscle tissue to that extent [3]. Instead, the key lies in using touch and the specific application of force to communicate with the nervous system.


The Power of the Nervous System

Our nervous system plays a crucial role in muscle function and pain perception. It is responsible for controlling muscle contractions, relaxation, and the sensation of pain [4]. By targeting the nervous system during a massage, we can effectively "convince" the muscles to relax and release tension.


A Gentler Approach for Greater Results

To achieve this communication with the nervous system, a gentle touch and carefully applied pressure are often more effective than brute force. This approach allows the therapist to work with the body's natural processes rather than against them, resulting in more significant, longer-lasting relief.


For example, a study conducted by Furlan et al. (2008) [5] found that lighter massage techniques were more effective at reducing pain and improving range of motion in participants with chronic lower back pain, compared to those who received deep tissue massage.


Practical Tips for Better Massages

Here are some practical tips for getting the most out of your massage, whether you're visiting an osteopath in Narre Warren, or a therapist in Berwick, Cranbourne, Clyde, Clyde North, or Endeavour Hills:

  1. Communicate with your therapist: Make sure to inform your therapist of any pain, discomfort, or specific areas that need attention. This will allow them to tailor the massage to your needs and ensure that the pressure applied is appropriate for your body.

  2. Breathe deeply: Taking deep, slow breaths during a massage can help relax your body and promote better communication between your nervous system and muscles [6].

  3. Trust your therapist: Remember that your therapist is a professional with extensive knowledge of the human body. Trust their expertise and allow them to guide you through the process.

  4. Stay consistent: Regular massage therapy, coupled with daily movement and movement nutrition, can help maintain and improve your overall wellbeing and recovery [7].

  5. Listen to your body: If you feel that the pressure applied during a massage is too intense or painful, don't hesitate to speak up. Remember, the goal is to work with your body, not against it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, excessive force during a massage is not the key to achieving better results. Instead, it's essential to use touch and the specific application of force to communicate with the nervous system effectively. By adopting a gentler approach, supported by research, you can enjoy longer-lasting relief and improved overall health and wellness [5].

So the next time you book a massage, remember that it's not a competition to see who can withstand the most pressure. Instead, focus on the benefits of a well-executed, tailored massage that takes your body's unique needs into account.


FAQ

Q: Is deep tissue massage always bad? A: No, deep tissue massage can be beneficial for certain conditions and individuals when applied appropriately [8]. However, it's crucial to communicate with your therapist to ensure the right amount of pressure is used.

Q: How often should I get a massage? A: The frequency of massages will vary depending on individual needs and preferences. Some people may benefit from weekly sessions, while others may find that monthly appointments are sufficient. Listen to your body and discuss your needs with your therapist to determine the best schedule for you [7].

Q: Can I perform self-massage at home? A: Yes, self-massage can be an effective way to maintain the benefits of professional massage therapy between appointments. Techniques such as foam rolling, trigger point therapy, and stretching can all be useful for managing muscle tension and promoting relaxation [9].


Call to Action

Are you ready to experience the benefits of a tailored, gentle massage backed by research? Book an appointment with Dr Andray Voronov at Gravity Osteopathy, your trusted osteopath in Narre Warren, serving clients in the surrounding suburbs of Hallam, Berwick, Cranbourne, Clyde, Clyde North, and Endeavour Hills. Don't let the myth of the mighty massage hold you back from experiencing true relief and improved wellbeing.


Contact us by visiting this page here

or make a booking by visiting our online booking portal now


References

[1] Shah, J. P., & Gilliams, E. A. (2008). Uncovering the biochemical milieu of myofascial trigger points using in vivo microdialysis: an application of muscle pain concepts to myofascial pain syndrome. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 12(4), 371-384.


[2] Broughton, G., Janis, J. E., & Attinger, C. E. (2006). The basic science of wound healing. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 117(7 Suppl), 12S-34S.


[3] Chaitow, L. (2018). Muscle Energy Techniques: A Practical Guide for Physical Therapists. North Atlantic Books.


[4] Mense, S. (2000). The pathogenesis of muscle pain. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 4(6), 486-495.


[5] Furlan, A. D., Imamura, M., Dryden, T., & Irvin, E. (2008). Massage for low back pain: an updated systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Back Review Group. Spine, 33(16), 1766


[6] Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2007). Massage therapy research. Developmental Review, 27(1), 75-89.


[7] Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 3-18.


[8] Romanowski, M., & Romanowska, J. (2018). A comparison of the effects of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage on chronic low back pain. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 247, 636-640.


[9] Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). The effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 827-838.

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