When I decided to become a massage therapist, I had no idea that this was such an involved and complicated field. When the word massage came to mind, it came with words like luxury, spoil, or indulge. Having completed the comprehensive massage therapy program at WCCMT, successfully completing the provincial board exams and establishing my own company, Aspect Health & Registered Massage Therapy, the word massage no longer resonates with such extravagant words. The word massage now emulates words like pain-reduction, relief, and health.
I had no idea that massage therapy could be used to help relieve the symptoms of so many common ailments; headaches, constipation, TMJ dysfunction, stress, anxiety and depression in addition of course to the musculoskeletal aches and pains that massage is best known for. I am not surprised now, when my patients express themselves saying, “I had no idea massage could be used for that,” or “I didn’t know that was a thing!” I thought I’d share a few lesser-known indications for massage that in British Columbia (BC) your Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) has been trained to help treat.
Whether you suffer migraine headaches, sinus headaches, or tension headaches a RMT has been trained to apply therapeutic touch to help relieve the symptoms. With migraine headaches, your massage therapist may concentrate on allowing you a period of deep relaxation. With sinus headaches, your RMT may offer a facial steam bath, positional therapy and/or a face massage, helping to drain your congested sinuses. With tension headaches, your RMT may work on tense neck and head muscles. All of these different applications may help relieve you of your headache pains!
Abdominal Massage for Constipation
This might be one of the more surprising applications of massage therapy. Each RMT in BC has been trained to treat constipation with abdominal massage. We take in-depth courses to learn about the digestive system, its pathologies and potential dysfunctions. Abdominal massage by a RMT may be a safe, non-medicinal way of treating constipation for you or your baby (and we are trained in infant massage too)!
Intraoral Massage for TMJ Dysfunction
Like abdominal massage, most people are surprised when they learn that RMTs in British Columbia are trained in intraoral massage. While Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction may be treated with external jaw muscle massage too, RMTs are trained to treat the intricate muscles of the jaw from outside and inside the mouth. While intraoral is not always necessary for relief of TMJ symptoms, it is a potential treatment for relief and it is something that your RMT may offer.
Stress Reduction, Anxiety & Depression
Whether you are being exposed to the physical stress of a live bear chasing you, the emotional stress of some life altering event, or the psychological stress of professional deadlines at work, your body responds to stress the same. This response is a cascade of hormonal changes initiated by your sympathetic nervous system. The cascade starts with the release of adrenalin and is followed by cortisol release if the stressful period is prolonged. Excess cortisol is believed to the be cause of a multitude of symptoms including hypersensitivity to pain, irritable bowel symptoms, poor sleep patterns, and feelings of anxiety and depression. RMTs in BC are trained in treatment techniques designed to reduce sympathetic nervous system firing, thus reducing cortisol release to offer a deep relaxation.
If you are considering visiting a massage therapist for any of the above-mentioned conditions, it’s important to be sure that you are seeing a BC RMT who is registered with the College of Massage Therapists of BC. Not only are BC RMTs regulated under the Health Professions Act and specific bylaws, but they are mandated to maintain a specific level of training including potential contraindications specific to your symptoms and will ensure your safety. As an added bonus, most extended health benefits plan will cover at least some of the cost of your treatment from a BC RMT!