The Instant and Increasing Benefits of Massage

Matt massaging a client.

There are so many health benefits to massage: relieving stress, reducing post-operative pain, enhancing exercise performance, and decreasing arthritis or fibromyalgia pain, to name just a few.

But what if you’ve never had a massage?

Or you’ve had one, but you didn’t particularly enjoy it?

Matthew Harrington, massage therapist at Integrative Medicine at APD, advises trying it — and trying it again.

“One of my clients has been in physical therapy for years, but it wasn’t until massage they felt comfortable in their own skin,” Harrington said. “They felt a release, both emotional and physical, a few sessions in and were able to let go of a lot of the tension from a history of trauma. Once that happened, physical therapy became more efficient.”

Caring, human touch can help people open up and feel safe, but it may mean finding the right massage therapist.

“It’s about trust. At your first appointment, you may not know what to expect,” Harrington said. “By your second massage and beyond, you should become more comfortable with each session as you and your therapist gain a better understand of how your body holds tension.”

Harrington has been a massage therapist for seven years, working with cancer patients at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, student athletes at Dartmouth College, and physical rehabilitation patients at Cioffredi & Associates.

“Massage can adapt to an individual’s needs. It can be anything a client needs at that moment. It can differ from visit to visit and person to person. It can even change during a visit,” he said.

If you have chronic pain, massage isn’t a one and done. There’s a progression of healing from massage therapy. “Soft tissue dysfunction is something that happens over many years, slowly building for a long time. Chronic pain relief can feel great after one massage session, but it is better to continue,” Harrington said. “Massage therapists can tailor their work with clients for the best possible outcome.”