Massage Chairs & Health Benefits

Medical disclaimer  - The information on this page, is In no way meant to replace the advice or direction of any medical professional, and is presented strictly for informational purposes only. 

Consult with your physician or surgeon prior to any type of massage therapy, if you have one or more of the following conditions:

1 - If you're sick - Massage can accelerate condition.
2 - If you're on blood thinners - Bruising may occur.
3 - If you have blood clots, or have a tendency towards them - Massage may dislodge blood clots.
4 - Immediately after surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.


Massage can aggravate the following conditions:
5 - Circulatory ailments such as varicose veins or phlebitis.
6 - Infectious skin disease.
7 - Unhealed wounds or rashes.
8 - Infected injuries.
9 - Acute inflammation.
10 - Areas of bleeding or tissue damage.
11 - Recent fractures, sprains, or bruises.
12- Osteoporosis - Massage may cause fractures.

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Massage therapy is a proven, medically based, non-invasive way to physically reduce harmful levels of stress hormones in the body, while increasing levels of endorphins.
The Mayo Clinic website identifies massage as a valid medical method to reduce stress and pain. 
They have stated that massage reduces anxiety, and may reduce withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.


Other medical conditions that may benefit from massage:

  •  - Back Pain
  •  - Sciatica
  •  - Stress
  •  - Anxiety
  •  - Arthritis
  •  - Fibromyalgia
  •  - Diabetes
  •  - Digestive disorders
  •  - Headaches
  •  - Insomnia
  •  - Muscle soreness or pain
  •  - Soft tissue strains or injuries

Massage and Stress

Stress related health issues are responsible for roughly 80% of doctors visits, according to the American Medical Association.

Most people experience stress levels of various intensities, and typically on a daily basis.
When one is under long term stress, there will be higher and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which has been shown to have negative health effects, both physically and emotionally.
With increased cortisol levels, the body is more likely to develop high calcium deposits in the arteries, which can cause plaque to build up in the circulatory system.

This is symptomatic of coronary heart disease. 

It  causes the white blood cell count to increase, which can lead to autoimmune disease after a period of time.


Stress can also play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.


The physical effects of stress include:
- Suppressed thyroid function.
- Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia.
- Decreased bone density.
- A decrease in muscle tissue.
- Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body.


The emotional effects of stress include:
- Impaired mental processing.
- Irritability, impatience and quick tempered.
- Feelings of guilt, hopeless, and/or isolation.
- Becoming over-sensitive and defensive.
- Becoming cynical.
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks.
- Interrupted sleep patterns.


Dozens of studies have been done on the therapeutic benefits of massage, and massage has been proven to be extremely effective in the reduction of stress.

Other stress therapies that have proven to be particularly effective, include Reiki, Meditation, and Yoga.
Every one of these modalities, has their own unique avenue in the quest for inner peace.
Everyone is different, and for true inner peace, everyone has their own individual path.
If you haven't found it yet and are in search of it, stop.
You'll find it - if you simply allow it to find you!

Back Pain and Sciatica,

The sciatic nerve is a nerve bundle, composed of several nerves that originate in the lower back, then passes alongside the piriformis muscle, and proceeds down the back of the thigh between a number of muscles, to the lower leg and foot. 
To give you an idea of the muscles that affect the sciatic nerve, the muscles are illustrated and include:
1 - The quadrates, located in the lower back.
2 - The psoas major, a long, thin muscle that runs along the lumbar (or lower) spine.
3 - The piriformis, located in gluteus region and upper leg.
4 - The quadratus femoris, located on the back side of the hip joint.
5 - The glutes, a group of 4 muscles that make up the buttocks.
6 - The hamstring muscles, located in the thighs
.
Massage chair therapy & arthritis, sciatica, & fibromyalgiaMassage chair therapy & arthritis, sciatica, & fibromyalgia                                      

The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks, near the top of the hip joint. 
This muscle is important in your lower body movement, because it stabilizes the hip joint, and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. 
This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance.

If the piriformis muscle is strained, it can irritate or pinch the sciatic nerve, and cause sciatica-type pain. 
The pain can be mild causing slight tingling, but can also be so severe, that it can prohibit the patient to move, or even lie down.

In many cases, a stretching routine combined with a deep tissue massage that targets the muscles affecting the sciatic nerve, will help the muscles to relax and relieve the nerve compression.
By relaxing these muscles, circulation is improved and the proper nutrients are allowed to flow to the surrounding tissues.

It's advisable to get sciatica diagnosed by a physician, because it can be more than strained muscles or muscle spasms that's causing your sciatic pain. 
There can also be serious factors involved, such as disc misalignment, bulging or herniated discs, or disc degeneration because of your age. 

Arthritis and Massage

Massage is manipulation of the skin, the muscles and the connective tissues, and is often used to relieve the common symptoms of many types of arthritis. These symptoms include reducing pain and stiffness, anxiety, and improving range of motion in joints. It also promotes restful sleep.


Moderate pressure is recommended for arthritic conditions, and is key in the stimulation of the pressure receptors under the skin that convey signals to the brain.

This stimulation can the alleviate pain, release serotonin, and promote relaxation when the heart rate and blood pressure goes down.

People with arthritis who experience chronic symptoms may consider using massage on a regular or even a daily basis, to help manage their pain and stiffness, and also to promote a better sleep, which can relieve the pain in the muscles and joints.


Deep tissue massage focuses on both the top layer and the deeper layers of muscles and tissues, and helps to relieve tension and/or pain in the muscles and the connective tissues, but may be inappropriate for some people with arthritis, because it can aggravate the symptoms.


Poor posture and back pain

Correcting poor posture requires undoing the hardening, or fibrosis of the muscles that have been habitually contracted. This allows them to relax and the bones to move back into place. It sounds like a simple concept, but it's not an easy task. 


There is a combination of techniques to help correct posture. 

Swedish massage can help increase circulation and release chronically held areas. 

Deep tissue massage helps wake up the body and reverse some of the fibrosis in the tissues. 

Any kind of manipulation can cause an unwinding of tension, and allow the body to release to the position in which it belongs.


Massage Therapy Statistics and Regular Health Maintenance

According to the 19th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association, of the 85 percent of people surveyed, 52 percent claim they had massage due to medical issues, and 23 Percent claimed that stress was their primary motivator for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months.

Medical reasons included pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, pregnancy or pre-natal, and general well-being.

  • 90 percent of individuals view massage, as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 91 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 28 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.

  • Americans' Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing

Instead of seeking massage therapy solely for relaxation and pampering purposes, individuals clearly are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.

  • As few as 25 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
  • In the previous 12 months, 17 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa, compared to 21 percent in 2014.
  • 72 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of healthcare.
  • 52 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress, to improve their quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or maintain wellness, pregnancy/prenatal, or to control headaches or migraines. 

Health care providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns.


Medical Conditions and Back Pain - In alphabetical order:
Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Spinal arthritis, which is also called degenerative joint disease, is the breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints in the spine, leading to low back pain.

The facet joints are the joints in your spine, that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist.

Nerves exit your spinal cord through these joints on their way to other parts of your body.

Healthy facet joints have cartilage, which allows your vertebrae to move smoothly against each other without grinding.


Massage is manipulation of the skin, the muscles and the connective tissues, and is often used to relieve the common symptoms of many types of arthritis.

Moderate pressure is recommended for arthritic conditions, and is key in the stimulation of the pressure receptors under the skin that convey signals to the brain.

This stimulation can the alleviate pain, release serotonin, and promote relaxation when the heart rate and blood pressure goes down.

People with arthritis who experience chronic symptoms may consider using massage on a regular or even a daily basis, to help manage their pain and stiffness.


Deep tissue massage focuses on both the top layer and the deeper layers of muscles and tissues, and helps to relieve tension and/or pain in the muscles and the connective tissues, but may be inappropriate for some people with arthritis, because it can aggravate the symptoms.

These symptoms include reducing pain and stiffness, anxiety, and improving range of motion in joints. It also promotes restful sleep.

Note: Avoid massaging any areas of inflammation areas during flare-ups.


Degenerative Disc Disease

Approximately 90% of people with lower back pain and/or sciatica from degenerative disc disease, will be able to successfully manage their pain and avoid surgery.

Back pain due to DDD can be managed using physical therapy, designed to reduce the stress on the discs.


Depression

Massage on a regular basis can reduce cortisol, and when cortisol levels are reduced, serotonin is increased.

By reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin, the symptoms of depression are improved.


Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FM) affects over 7 million people in the USA, FM is a chronic musculoskeletal pain syndrome, which can first show up as pain and around the joints in their neck, shoulders, back, and hips, and can progress into widespread pain over the entire body.

FM patients can also suffer from tension headaches, fatigue, stiffness and sleep disorders. There are documented cases that are so severe, that the individuals spend entire days in bed.

Lyme's disease should be ruled out as part of the Fibromyalgia diagnosis, as the symptoms are quite similar.


Herniated Disc

A herniated disc can occur when the disc is subjected to too much strain, usually by lifting injuries, although disc degeneration can play a role too.

The inner gel of the disc leaks out, and applies pressure to the nerve, leading to back, leg, or arm pain.

Back pain due to DDD can be managed using physical therapy, designed to reduce the stress on the discs.


Leg Pain and the Sciatic nerve

Certain leg pain can be caused by the nerve(s) that exit the spine in the lower back.

They can become pinched, and the pain may extend down the leg and even into the foot.

A pinched nerve can also cause tingling, numbness, or weakness.

See more below under Sciatica, Exercise, Stretching, and Massage Therapy.


Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by muscle strain or whiplash, but also can be caused by spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or other medical conditions.


Osteoporosis and Spinal Fractures

Fractures in the spine can medically be caused by osteoporosis, which is a condition in which bones lose structural integrity and become brittle.

This is often caused by loss of calcium, or can be a side effect of the severe overuse of steroidal medications.


Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
If you stand up from your chair and feel a pain in your lower back, it could be your Sacroiliac joint, a.k.a. SI joint.
The sacroiliac joint is located below the base of the spine and above the tailbone, or coccyx.

The joint normally does not have much movement, but any change in the joint may cause lower back pain, which could be a dull or sharp.

The pain starts at your SI joint, but it can move to your buttocks, thighs, groin, or even your upper back.

Image result for sacroiliac joint dysfunction


Sciatica

The sciatic nerve exits the lower spine, and carries information between the brain and the legs.

When a lower back problem causes sciatic nerve compression, pain can radiate down the leg and even into the foot.

More about sciatica in the following section.


Scoliosis

Scoliosis is an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine, and develops mostly in adolescents, but can also be caused by aging and arthritis.


Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is when a part or parts of the spine narrows, which can lead to the compression of a spinal nerve or the spinal cord in the neck.


Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra in the spine slips forward over the one below it, which will cause lower back pain and/or leg pain. It commonly occurs in the lower spine.


Upper Back Pain

Pain from the thoracic region of the spine, is less common than from the cervical or lumbar spinal regions. 

Sore muscles and pinched nerves are the most common problems in the upper back.


My history and experience w/ sciatica.
I've personally been diagnosed with disc degeneration, a herniated L3 disc, and a bulging L4 disc.
This resulted in my own daily pain level averages of between 4 to 7, and an occasional bout with sciatica.
My current therapy consists of 3 things that I do at home:
1 - Core exercises, which provides natural support to the entire lumbar region, and allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back. 
When weight is properly distributed, stress to the lower back is greatly reduced, and your balance and posture improves too.
2 - A stretching routine at the end of every exercise session.
3 - An average of 3 massage chair sessions per week, which compliments the exercise and stretching sessions by relaxing and loosening up my entire body, in a way that simple stretching will not.

My experience of combining core exercise  with stretching and massage, has reduced my lower back pain and sciatica dramatically, 
The only reason that my pain level starts to rise, is if I haven't made the time for my routine.

It really doesn't take much time out of the day for exercise and stretches.
Even if you spend a minimum of 5 minutes, you'll see improvement, and you'll be amazed at how much better you feel overall too, both physically and mentally.

This is all my own personal experience, and depending on your issues, you may or may not have the same results.
As important as the physical therapy, is to stay hydrated after the massage session and throughout the day.
Also consider making minor lifestyle changes, such as taking your wallet out of your back pocket when sitting, achieve correct posture when sitting, and avoiding sitting for too long.
Nick Fahmie - President - Massage Chair, Inc.