My massage therapist has been doing massages for 30 years. He is really aggressive. I thought that I was going to die. The pain was so intense that I honestly feel that it was worse than having children. When the massage was complete, I felt relaxed. When I got home I felt exhausted, like I had been in a major accident. Truthfully I feel like crap. I ache from head to toe, what the heck is this? I feel absolutely horrible. I had a bath before bed and it did help somewhat. But this morning I still feel like hell …


Swedish massage is a popular choice. It involves rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of the blood returning to the heart. Swedish massage goes beyond just a relaxation; it increases the oxygen level in the blood while decreasing toxins in the muscles, improving circulation while easing the tension. This is great for those who are in need of headache or insomnia relief.
Deep tissue massage may cause soreness or sensitivity, which is usually resolved within a day or two, particularly if you are diligent about drinking water to help your system flush lactic acid and other released toxins. Your therapist at In-Symmetry will tailor your massage to your body’s needs and preferences, creating a balanced session that releases muscular adhesions, increases blood flow, and relaxes the nervous system.

Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a pseudoscientific[1] system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.[2]
There are many different styles and types of massage. Two of the most common methods of massage are Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. Before you meet with your massage therapist, it is helpful to know difference between the two. When you have a good understanding of both you can explain exactly what type of massage you want and what your goals are for your massage. 

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Pain is a stressor in the body system and any injury occurs to any part of the body will cause the whole system to be stressed.1 Endorphin is a body's natural pain-relieving chemical will be released as a response to reflexology. Endorphin teaches the body how to adapt any injuries. Those who practice reflexology in their life believe that healing from any injuries comes from the role of reflexology.3

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Oils: The base oil should be a vegetable oil, cold pressed, unrefined, and free of additives. These oils contain such nutrients as vitamins and minerals in addition to fatty acids. They do not clog the pores as mineral oils often do. Essential (aromatic) oils may be added to provide additional relaxation or other therapeutic effects. Massage oil should be warmed in the therapist's hands before it is applied to the client's skin. 

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Until better evidence is published in peer reviewed journals, he remains skeptical of claims that by massaging or applying pressure to specific points on the hands or feet, a reflexologist can alleviate problems in corresponding organs or other systems throughout the body. He has seen no evidence showing that reflexology is effective for pain or any health problems unrelated to the feet and hands. He urges caution with regard to claims that reflexology can cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, promote weight loss, or successfully treat earaches, hemorrhoids, emphysema, heart disease, thyroid disorders or any other health condition.

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A more recent study looked more at the physical benefits of massage.  This study was done with 400 adults who complained of moderate to severe low back pain, lasting 3 or more months. These adults were divided into 3 groups. The first group received a weekly full body massage. The second group received a more targeted massage that focused on specific muscles of the low back and hips. The final group did not receive massage, but instead were prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxants.  After 10 weeks, participants in both massage groups reported a greater average improvement in pain and functioning than those who received medication. The type of massage, either full-body or focused, yielded equally beneficial results.  At the end of the study, 36-39% of the massage recipients reported that the pain was nearly or completely gone, while in the medicated group only 4% reported that significant decrease in pain level. This bodes well for not only focused but also a full Swedish “relaxation” massage.
Stroke is the condition where the blood supply to the brain is interrupted because of some reasons that may cause many health problems.27 It usually occurs due to blood vessels ruptures. Many patients have tried reflexology as the alternative therapy in order to recover from strokes. The practitioners believe that pressure that they exerted on a particular point on reflex areas may induce a positive outcome and physical changes to the body.28
If you’re interested in learning this art for yourself, fret not. Reflexology is fairly easy to learn. It usually involves a few hands-on courses in the practical application, as well as provide a theoretical understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the body. The most popular method of reflexology is typically of the feet, but hand and ear reflexology are also practiced.
Several mechanisms for deep massage’s natural stress-relieving effects include its ability to dilate blood vessels and also lower activity of the limbic system (including the hypothalamus), which is responsible for autonomic nervous system regulation and cortisol secretion. Massage has been shown to improve relaxation by boosting activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by heart rate, blood pressure and heart rate variability. (8, 9)
Like massages, chiropractic care can be beneficial for lowering pain and improving recovery. It’s also been shown to lower stress, headaches and more. One way that chiropractors help treat pain is by lowering mechanical compression and irritation of spinal joints, which can send nerve signals throughout the body that increase inflammation and irritation.
In a poll of 25–35-year-olds, 79% said they would like their health insurance plan to cover massage.[28] In 2006 Duke University Health System opened up a center to integrate medical disciplines with CAM disciplines such as massage therapy and acupuncture.[126] There were 15,500 spas in the United States in 2007, with about two-thirds of the visitors being women.[119]

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You will experience some pain during the massage as this form of massage concentrates on relieving strain and tension from tissues that go deeper. The pain could also be because the massage uses movements against the muscles rather than moving with them. But if you think you’re experiencing intense pain, immediately inform your therapist. The best way to make the most of a deep tissue massage is to be as relaxed as you can and trust your therapist to massage your pain away. That’s why it’s important to go to a certified and experienced massage therapist for a deep tissue massage.
The researchers also note there are psychological benefits for athletes receiving massages, which other research shows can include improved focus and confidence. Although more research is still needed on a long-term scale, both tissue healing and the psychological effects of massages are areas that seem promising for both professional and recreational athletes.

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Sports massage is given within the four hours preceding an event to improve performance and help decrease injuries. It is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm up, to enhance circulation, and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is normally shorter (10-15 minutes) than a regular conditioning massage, and focuses on warming up the major muscles to be used and getting the athlete in a good mental state for competition. It also improves tissue pliability, readying the athlete for top performance. Certain massage techniques can help calm a nervous athlete; others can be stimulating. Post-event sports massage is given after a competition and is mainly focused on recovery. It is geared toward reducing muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with vigorous exercise. Recovery after competition involves not only tissue normalization and repair, but also general relaxation and mental calming. A recovery session can range from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours in length. For more, see our Comprehensive Guide to Massage.
Reflexology is an alternative medicine system that claims to treat internal organs by pressing on designated spots on the feet and hands; there is no anatomical connection between those organs and those spots. Systematic reviews in 2009 and 2011 found no convincing evidence that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition. Quackwatch and the NCAHF agree that reflexology is a form of massage that may help patients relax and feel better temporarily, but that has no other health benefits. Our own Mark Crislip said, “The great majority of studies demonstrate reflexology had no effects that could not be replicated by picking fleas off your mate…And it has no anatomic or physiologic justification.”
Research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reported findings of a positive trend for deep tissue massages in regard to improved athletic recovery and performance. The most beneficial type of deep tissue massage for athletes is considered to be “sports massage,” which is commonly performed prior to athletic events to help warm the body and prevent injuries or immediately after to improve recovery.
A sports massage is typically a combination of several massage techniques that are tailored to your affected muscle groups based on the activities that you do. A properly administered sports massage can help flush the lactic acid out of your body. There are two types of sports massages that can benefit triathletes depending on when you schedule your appointment and your race schedule.
20 asthmatic patients were chosen to be the subject for active treatment and another 20 patients were chosen to have reflexology session. According to a recent research conducted by the author, there are no significant differences between the groups having active session and placebo session of reflexology.33 However, when the analysis of the symptoms diaries was carried out, the results showed that there were significant differences between both groups especially when it was conducted together with subconscious unblinding pattern of study.33
Inflammation caused by chronic stress and muscle tension can lead to worsened overall health, longer recovery time, reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure. Studies have found that massage therapy can help lower cortisol levels and even boost production of the hormone called oxytocin, which relaxes the body and has soothing effects. (7) Oxytocin is the primary hormone responsible for sustaining social bonds in humans and increasing motivation for cooperative behaviors, which is why it’s often called the “cuddle hormone” and known to be released during hugs, birth, social bonding and from touch.

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Raizelah Bayen is a California Certified Massage Therapist, currently employed as the Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California.  She has been practicing massage for over 25 years, and teaching T’ui Na, Acupressure, Sports and Pregnancy Massage in massage certification programs for 15 years.  Raizelah is an approved CEU Instructor by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), offering trainings in Freestone, California and on-site training at your massage school or spa.  For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.

I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com


In massage therapy, so much can be achieved while inflicting only good pain on patients that bad pain must be justified by vivid, quick, and somewhat lasting benefits — which is a high bar to clear. All health care practices must be justified by benefits. As risk and pain and expense increase, the benefits must also. There is simply no point in tolerating — and paying for — painful treatment without an obvious return on the investment.

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