If you’re looking for relief from fibromyalgia or arthritis, you might just need a human touch. Massaging your muscles can help relieve your symptoms and send you into a state of deep relaxation. Natural therapies have become popular in recent years as people are becoming ever more wary of pharmaceuticals and their side effects. Massage might just be the answer you are looking for.

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Massaging For Pain Relief

massage for neck pain

Image CC by NC 2.0, by micagoto, via Flickr

Studies have shown that massaging painful muscles and joints helps provide relief. One study found that patients with knee osteoarthritis who received weekly massages had significant improvement in pain, stiffness and physical function. Another study showed that patients who had massage therapy for arthritis of the wrist and hand experienced less pain and greater grip strength. Massaging for pain relief has multiple benefits for people who live with chronic conditions.

Benefits of massage:

  • Increases serotonin, which reduces pain naturally
  • Naturally increases deep sleep
  • Increases range of motion
  • Lowers anxiety and improves mood

Massage for neck pain

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health Statistics, a whopping 15 percent of Americans are plagued with neck pain. Massaging these overworked muscles relieves pain and stiffness. However, the results of massage for neck pain aren’t always seen immediately.

“Massage of the neck itself may exacerbate symptoms at first, but gentle massage of the arms, chest, legs, and back proves to reduce pain in the neck,” says Elaine Calenda of the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. “Myofascial release and thorough massage of all the neck, face, jaw, head and throat muscles, promote full healing and restoration of function.”

New research shows that timing is key to effective massage for neck pain. One-hour massage therapy sessions multiple times a week seem to be the most effective schedule to get the most out of treatment.  “In the short term, 60 minutes of massage is better than 30, and you want to do multiple treatments a week for the first four weeks,” explained Karen Sherman, a senior scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute which conducted the recent study.

Techniques

Use the following techniques to massage away neck pain:

Circular Friction: Use the tips of fingers or thumbs to apply pressure and some circular stationary manipulation to the area between the spine and the shoulder blade.

Gliding Stroke: Place the thumbs of both hands on the area between the spine and shoulder blade. Applying pressure, glide them down the muscle, following the pathway of the shoulder blade.

Shoulder Pain Massage

Massage is helpful when dealing with shoulder pain. Approximately 20 percent of Americans experience shoulder pain at some point throughout their lives. Half of these cases resolve in six months or less. The causes of shoulder pain can include bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, impingement, and rotator cuff injuries. Shoulder pain massage helps with all of these conditions by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow, which promotes healing. Massaging a painful shoulder can also help to release restrictions in surrounding tissues, improving range of motion. It should be noted that massage is contraindicated if shoulder pain is the result of a fracture.

Techniques

Use the following techniques when massaging painful shoulders:

Kneading Technique: Using the thumb, knead the shoulder. If you can stand it, use the fingers of the other hand to apply more pressure.

Circular Technique: Using the fingertips, apply pressure to the shoulder. Work your way up to the neck muscle following a circular pattern.

Here are some massage techniques for neck and shoulder pain.

Massage for rheumatoid arthritis pain

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation and pain. Massage has proven helpful in relieving the pain of this condition. One study found that rheumatoid arthritis patients “reported relief from pain and stiffness after four once-a-week moderate-pressure massages.”

“Massage has been shown to be useful in reducing pain temporarily,” explained A. Lynn Millar, PT, PhD, chair and professor of the department of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University.

Techniques

Several types of massage are particularly helpful to rheumatoid arthritis patients:

  • Myofascial release
  • Swedish massage
  • Hot stone massage
  • Deep tissue massage

Here’s a video on giving yourself a hand massage for some quick relief.

Massage for back pain

Back problems are an extremely common problem in America and doctors are now prescribing massage therapy to ease the pain. Massage can be used to treat back pain that is caused by a variety of conditions, including muscle strains, spinal arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Swedish massage, neuromuscular therapy, and shiatsu massage are all effective forms of therapy for back pain.

Massage tools for back pain

Back pain doesn’t have to be hands-on. There is a wide array of massage tools for back pain available on the market today. Reaching your back on your own can be darn near impossible, especially when you are stiff and in pain. These devices allow you to massage yourself when you are alone or can’t get to a masseuse.

  1. Foam roller: Foam rollers are excellent for self-massaging your aching back. Smooth rollers tend to be more comfortable to use than those with a rough surface that looks like the tread on a tire.
  2. Trigger point cane: This device, also known as a back buddy, can help you reach your massage your back muscles on your own.
  3. Tennis ball: A good old-fashioned tennis ball is a wonderful tool for massaging knots out of back muscles.

Here are some massage techniques for back pain that you can have a partner or friend do for you.

Massaging at home

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t have stacks of extra cash just lying around, and a professional massage can be expensive. If you can’t afford the cost of a professional massage therapist, do not despair. You can still experience the pain relieving benefits of massaging sore muscles and joints, even if you are too broke to visit a masseuse.

Self-care options

The massage tools above are great for when you need a good massage, but are by yourself and can’t afford a trip to a professional massage therapist. There are also various devices, such as shiatsu neck massagers and chairs with massage features. Rest assured that there is a way for you to massage yourself no matter what the circumstances. The power of touch is available to everyone.

Massaging how-to

If you are lucky enough to have a friend or spouse who is willing to give you a massage, then here’s another video. This and the ones above can teach proper techniques for massaging you effectively.

Use Massaging to Relief Your Pain Today

Massaging your sore, tired muscles can help you relax and feel better. Massage therapy can even be a useful treatment for the painful symptoms of many chronic conditions. Make an appointment, buy a massage tool, or enlist the help of a friend and start using the gift of touch to naturally relieve your pain today.

Featured image CC by 2.0, by Tara Angkor Hotel, via Wikimedia Commons

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