A good massage can do wonders for relieving tension and back pain, but a therapeutic massage is not always convenient or available. While it is still best to get a massage from a licensed massage therapist, an electronic substitute is now also available that may provide some of the benefits of the human touch—the massage chair.
Most believe massage chairs are a luxury item. A massage chair is certainly not necessary for every day living, or for relieving back pain and neck pain. However, for some, the benefits that a massage chair can bring may outweigh the price.
Benefits of Massage Therapy and Massage Chairs
A good hands-on massage can play a crucial role in alleviating back pain. Similarly, a good massage chair is designed to provide some measure of pain relief and relaxation, however, without the need for person-to-person interaction. Getting a massage in the privacy of home, along with convenience and time efficiency, are the major reasons why some are opting to go with a massage chair as a potential means to ease their back pain.
Comprehensive research has demonstrated that there are three central reasons why massage is beneficial:
- Massage improves venous and lymphatic flow—manipulating muscles increases blood flow. Increasing blood flow facilitates the circulation and absorption of nutritional elements into the muscles and tissues. Increasing lymphatic circulation clears toxins out of these areas. Together, this revitalizes the massaged area.
- Massage therapy decreases tension and improves flexibility—massaging helps loosen tight and strained muscles. Stretching and kneading problem areas allow muscles to relax as well.
- Massage therapy increases endorphin levels—possibly the most beneficial aspect of massage. Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ chemicals that run through the body—increasing their levels induces positive results. Among other benefits, increasing endorphin levels has been correlated with quicker recovery, reduced pain, and reduced anxiety.
These benefits of massage work both physically and psychologically to help reduce common symptoms of back pain. Through the study of the human body and analysis of feedback, many massage chair designs have been developed with the goal of achieving similar benefits.
Potential Risks and Contraindications for Massage Therapy
In general, any type of massage is non-invasive and considered very low risk. While there aren’t specific contraindications or risks associated with use of massage chairs, in general any of the contraindications to general massage therapy should be followed when using a massage chair.
Contraindications for massage therapy include:
- Infectious skin disease
- A rash
- An unhealed wound
- Immediately after surgery
- A tendency to form blood clots or if using blood thinners
- Circulatory ailments such as phlebitis or varicose veins
- Inflamed or infected injuries
- Areas of bleeding or heavy tissue damage
- At the sites of recent fractures, sprains, or bruises
- Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Osteoporosis (use caution)
Source: spine-health.com; Peter J. Schubbe, DC