Many people find themselves seeking the care of a manual therapist such as a chiropractor, massage therapist or physiotherapist once they’ve injured themselves or noticed that something doesn’t quite feel right. While manual therapy is a great option in those cases, using manual therapy preventatively is extremely beneficial both physically and mentally. Here are 5 benefits of using manual therapy for preventative health care:
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A Helpful Tool in Managing Stress and Mental Health
Stress, anxiety or other mental health conditions have shown to respond well to manual therapies, such as massage, making it a great addition to your mental health care toolkit! Massage, in particular, helps relieve tension, elevate neurotransmitters, decrease heart rate and blood pressure and decrease pain.
When experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns we often find ourselves in a constant state of tension, keeping our muscles contracted resulting in a cycle of physical and emotional symptoms that encourage our chronic feelings of being on edge, anxious, tense, or stressed. Using manual therapies like massage to target those trigger points and areas of tension can improve overall mood by interrupting that cycle.
Additionally, massage can help release endorphins, dopamine and other neurotransmitters while decreasing cortisol levels. So, there’s even more reason to add a bit of self-care to your routine!
Maintaining Flexibility, Mobility and Range of Motion
One of the main goals of most manual therapies from chiropractic to physiotherapy is to improve or maintain important functioning of the muscles and joints. This is evident when you go to your physiotherapist after an injury – treatment focuses on proper healing but then evolves to include ways to regain or improve flexibility, mobility and/or range of motion and avoid compensating movements.
Working on these goals doesn’t have to be limited to injury recovery. It’s important to focus on our flexibility, mobility and range of motion in a preventative sense as we age to ensure that we are better able to avoid injury, maintain an active lifestyle and participate in day-to-day activities. Your chiropractor, physiotherapist and/or massage therapist can help you create a preventative treatment plan that includes regular “maintenance” visits as well as exercises, stretches or activities targeted to the areas that you need to focus on most.
Helps With Injury Prevention
Not all injuries can be prevented, but we often find that injuries are a result of decreased range of motion, tension or dysfunction in a particular area. Regular visits for massage therapy in Bedford can help release adhesions and tensions thus improving range of motion and helping to prevent injury.
Additionally, your manual therapist can often prescribe exercises or stretches that target your particular areas of concern or recommend bracing, taping or orthotics for particular issues that may require more care to avoid injury.
Effective in Pain Management
Manual therapies have been proven to be effective in the management of various pain conditions such as back pain, headaches, TMJ, joint pain, and more. Maintaining regular visits with your manual therapist can be a great preventative tool for pain both chronic and acute.
For those with chronic pain conditions, manual therapies can help with managing and preventing the incidence of flare-ups and work with other prescribed medications or therapies to maintain functioning and decrease experience of pain.
Acute pain often involves injury or spasm. Regular manual therapy works to loosen areas of tension or adhesion and reduce the risk of injury or muscle spasm. In cases where you experience acute pain due to a muscle spasm, seeing your manual therapist can help decrease the time you spend in acute pain and prevent further dysfunction or injury due to compensation.
Helps Lymphatic Drainage
Many people experience lymphedema as they age or as the result of another health condition or surgery such as a mastectomy. Massage can help improve the symptoms of lymphedema by encouraging the movement of built up fluid and stimulating the lymph system to help circulate any areas of fluid build up.
If you experience ongoing or chronic lymphedema, maintaining regular appointments with your massage therapist can help minimize symptoms, reduce how often you experience fluid build up and promote better lymph drainage.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to head to your chiropractor or massage therapist after an injury or when you’re experiencing pain – using manual therapy as a preventative method can provide additional benefits to your overall health and wellness. Manual therapy is a great way to help you stay pain-free, active and functioning your best – both mentally and physically!
 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2005 Oct;115(10):1397-413. doi: 10.1080/00207450590956459. PMID: 16162447.
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