Most of us associate massage with pure relaxation and the release of tension in the muscles. But massage is so much more…
When muscles and surrounding tissue get stuck, the body is actually laying additional tissue down and forming a scar. We are probably aware of the scar that forms on the outside but a very similar response occurs on the inside. Therefore, during a deep tissue massage the therapist is actually breaking the bond of the scar tissue.
According to a 2011 study in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,” in deep-tissue massage, the manipulation of muscle tissue causes an immediate reduction by about 18 percent of the hormone arginine vasopressin, a hormone that restricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. This reduction initiates what is known as the “relaxation response,” a mechanical response that encourages circulation, enhances the delivery of oxygen and lowers blood pressure. Additionally, massage initiates a reduction of the stress hormone cortisol, thus creating feelings of relaxation.
TYPES OF MASSAGE
Understanding the basic types of massage, and how they work, will lead to a better understanding of foam rolling.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of the massage.
As the name implies, a deep tissue massage is intended to get to the layers of muscle and tissue that are deep, or closer to the bone. Deep tissue massage is great to help relieve chronic muscle tensions. Due to repetitive movements that occur for many years and the overall lifestyle of many people, the different layers of tissue can begin to get stuck together. If it stays this way for too long, it must be broken up or “released”.
Active Release Technique (commonly called ART) is a form of manual therapy that is incredibly effective. The therapist builds compression and applies tension into a specific muscle as the patient moves through a range of motion. ART is similar to a deep tissue massage in that scar tissue, adhesions and hydrogen bonds get broken up.
Graston Technique differs from some of the others because it is an instrument assisted method, meaning the therapist uses a stainless steel tool. The tool allows the therapist to be very specific, which makes this another effective method of muscle and tissue work. Again, the skilled clinician is using the tool while the patient is encouraged to participate in therapeutic exercises that serve to increase mobility through the tissues.
SMR—Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a form of self-massage that is designed to replicate the common technique a therapist would use called myofascial release. Myofascial release occurs when a therapist uses their hands to apply pressure into the body while using a traction or pulling technique. The therapist might hold that pressure for up to two minutes in some cases.
Myofascial release can often lead to pain and discomfort due to compression into the connective tissues. This is similar to the pain that occurs at times during a massage. Most of us have experienced some soreness when pressure is put on tender muscles and tense areas. Many of these receptors have become desensitized over the years with the muscles being consistently tense. Many times just a small amount of extra pressure can increase discomfort. You can think of foam rolling the same way … when you compress sensory receptors, it can feel uncomfortable. TriggerPoint suggests using pain as your guide. Foam rolling can be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. The best way to tell the difference is whether or not you can breathe comfortably as you roll. If it hurts too badly, regress. This can be achieved by either applying less pressure or increasing the surface area of the device used (rolling on a larger or softer roller).