Massage therapy is beneficial in numerous ways, both physical and mental. It’s especially beneficial for the disabled.
It can help manage the physical effects of the disability such as chronic pain and muscle stiffness. It also helps relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Types of massage therapies
Depending on your preferences and type of disability, you can benefit from specific types of massage therapies. The most common ones include:
- Swedish massage. This is the most common. It involves long and gentle strokes and movement of joints. It’s great for relaxation, increasing blood circulation and relieving stiff muscles and joints. This is usually the recommended type of massage for beginners because it’s gentle and comfortable.
- Deep tissue massage. This type of massage involves application of pressure on specific spots and areas of the body to treat chronic pain and stiffness. It also increases blood flow.
- Shiatsu massage. This is an ancient Japanese form of massage that involves using fingers to apply pressure on specific acupressure points. It’s good for relieving pain, relaxation, migraines and anxiety.
Other common types of massage therapies include reflexology, Thai massage and hot stone massage.
The most important thing when choosing a specific type of massage is finding one that you are comfortable with. Make sure it does not cause any discomfort or pain.
It’s also a good idea to work with massage therapists who have experience with disabled clients. This is especially important if your disability presents a challenge climbing onto the massage table or making certain movements. You can also consider buying Shiatsu massager that is slightly easier to use for disabled.
Talk with the massage therapist beforehand and make sure you understand what’s going to happen. Keep communicating during the session about what you are feeling to ensure you get the best experience.
Benefits of massage therapy for the disabled
1. It eases chronic pain
Some types of disabilities are accompanied by chronic pain in a specific part of the body. While massage therapy is unlikely to completely get rid of the pain, it can help in managing it.
Various studies have found that regular massage therapy (2-4 times a week), is effective at reducing back, neck and joint pain.
Exactly how massage reduces pain is something that researchers are still studying. Many theorize that the pressure from a massage is essential in pain reduction. It doesn’t have to be a lot of pressure.
Light massage can just be as effective as firm massage. So tell the therapist when the massage gets too painful and they’ll reduce the pressure.
Some massage therapies like acupuncture work by simulating other nerves and sort of distracting the brain from the current pain.
Note that massage therapies only offer temporary relief, typically just a day or two of reduced pain. That’s why it’s important to get it regularly for continuing relief.
2. Reduces muscle and joint stiffness
Stiffness can be caused directly by the disability or by lack of movement arising from the disability.
Whatever the cause, massage therapy can help reduce stiffness and improve flexibility. This improves mobility of various limbs like hands, fingers and legs.
When done on a stiff back or neck, massage therapy can improve posture while walking or sitting.
3. It improves blood flow
This is one of the biggest benefits of massage therapy for the disabled. The increase in blood flow is something that has actually been tested and proven true.
Furthermore, researchers found that the change lasts for several days after the massage session.
Improved blood flow is good for many reasons: it reduces chronic pain, ensures muscles and joints are functioning normally, speeds up healing time and improves general body health.
Most types of massage therapies do a great job increasing your blood circulation. They can be especially helpful when targeted on the extremities such as hands and feet where circulation tends to be poor in the elderly and disabled.
4. Relieves stress and anxiety
The benefits of massage therapy for the disabled are not just physical. Study after study has shown that getting a massage makes an individual more relaxed. It reduces stress and anxiety.
Many people with a disability experience higher levels of stress. Regular massage can prevent it from progressing into chronic stress or even depression.
With improved relaxation, massage also enhances sleep quality which is essential for mental health.