You could exude the grace of a figure skater and still: It’s highly unlikely that you will go through life without injuring yourself by falling, being involved in a car accident or simply being active and on the go.
If you’re fortunate, your post-injury rehabilitation will be quick and effective. And if your treatment plan follows the path of many others, it will include massage because massage improves post-injury rehabilitation.
When you put the three most common type of injuries under the proverbial microscope – those injuries that stem from falls, car accidents and sports and other activities – you’ll understand why the Mayo Clinic calls massage “good medicine.”
Massage improves post injury rehabilitation from falls
No one likes to think of themselves as “clumsy,” but one in three adults takes a fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The falls were serious enough that 2.5 million adults were treated at hospitals in 2013 and more than 734,000 of them were admitted.
Most of the fractures that adults sustain each year stem from falls, the most common fractures being in the ankle, forearm, hand, hip, leg, spine and upper arm. Fractures are considered “acute injuries” whose characteristics generally include:
- Skin that feels warm or hot to the touch
Health care providers who treat acute injuries often rely on the so-called “RICE” treatment, an acronym that stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. But more often lately, they’re adding an “M,” for “massage,” because it improves post-injury rehabilitation, says Nicole Cutler of the Institute for Integrative Healthcare.
“While massage therapists are typically called upon to address chronic pain, they also have a lot to offer clients with an acute injury,” she says. “By knowing what to include and what to avoid in freshly injured clients at each stage of recovery, massage therapists can play a key role in their healing process.”
Massage improves post injury rehabilitation from car accidents
Although injuries stemming from car accidents have been declining steadily for years, the number is still staggering: more than 2.3 million, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
The most common consequence is whiplash. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that about 20 percent of people who are involved in rear-end collisions later report symptoms of whiplash, which can mushroom into a long-term, chronic problem if it’s not treated properly.
Massage can help because it improves post-injury rehabilitation, says the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals: “Any massage that causes a general relaxation of the client’s muscles can help relieve muscular pain in common types of whiplash injuries. In addition, massage increases the amount of oxygen that reaches the healing tissues and opens those tissues so they can receive oxygen and nutrients, thus speeding the healing process.”
Massage improves post injury rehabilitation from sports and “activity injuries”
While “sports injuries” are naturally traced to participation in organized or informal sports, you don’t have to don a helmet or knee pads to sustain an “activity” injury. You can suffer one during mild exercise and even a leisurely walk around the block.
These types of injuries, says the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, often include:
- Swollen muscles
Marge Bowen, president of the Energy Kinesiology Association, says that massage can play a role in the “therapeutic package” because “you get to turn on the muscles that are not turned on. And you calm down the muscles that are working too hard because the muscles opposing them are not being used.”