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Theraputic massage relieves pain one muscle at a time


Muscles, tendons and ligaments can be a source of a lot of pain yet they fail to show up in diagnostic tests, like x-rays.

This week on “Take Care,” Tracy Segall, the lead licensed massage therapist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, talks about the benefits of massage therapy and how it can heal those “hidden” aches and pains.

When the word massage is used what often comes to mind is a relaxation session surrounded by candles and soft music.

“When you think about a massage you are often times thinking about luxury,” Segall says. “Massage therapy is the treatment of muscle tissue, soft tissue throughout the body. What I do, along with wellness clinics and hospitals, is therapeutic or medical massage.”

A medical massage or therapeutic massage focuses on areas like muscles, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments through techniques like deep tissue massages, muscle energy, stretching and neuromuscular reeducation.

From nurses who are on their feet all day to people who sit at a desk for eight hours, the average human body goes through a lot of stress. Massage therapy aims to relive the body’s stress.

“I would recommend that a person gets a massage at least once a month to help break up any types of postural issues they may have created,” Segall says.

Repetitively putting muscles through the same routine (like sitting all day) can warp their shape. The human body tends to remember certain postures and positions if done over and over again.

Segall says that a massage therapist is the solution to helping the body remember the right posture.

“A massage therapist can get in there and relieve and relax that tissue to help it remember how it is supposed to hold and support your body,” Segall says.

But not everyone has tried massage therapy as a pain relieving option. Segall has a few tips for those thinking about trying massage.

“When you call the massage therapist initially it is a great idea to interview them. Talk with them. Tell them what you are looking for,” Segall says.

Having an end goal, whether prescribed or not, is a great place to start.

“If you are coming in for a specific issue, tell them. Make sure they have experience with that issue,” Segall says.  “You are only getting to know that stuff if you are communicating with them, asking questions and getting answers.”