Massage for Plantar Fasciitis: What Is It?
The word “massage” comes from the Latin word “mater,” which means mother. When someone says they have a good massage, it’s referring to the act of having their body touched or massaged by another person. A massage can also refer to any type of physical contact between two or more people (i.e., touching hands).
In other words, a massage is a form of contact therapy. Physical therapists use touch to treat many different types of pain and injuries.
For example, they may apply heat or cold to relieve muscle spasms, stretch muscles, and even stimulate nerves with electrical stimulation. They may also use gentle pressure to reduce swelling and increase blood flow through the affected area.
How Does Massage Treat Pain?
Physical therapists often use various forms of touch therapy to treat patients’ aches and pains. Some examples include:
Cold compresses and ice packs are used to decrease inflammation. Cold compressing the muscles helps relax them so they don’t tighten up when you’re trying to move them.
Ice packs can also help reduce pain by reducing swelling.
Hot packs and heat therapy increase blood flow to the muscles and promote healing.
Electrical stimulation or “electrotherapy” is another method physical therapists use to help heal different types of pain, including sore, tight, or stiff muscles, as well as pinched nerves. This technique uses electrical currents to stimulate specific areas of the body associated with pain or movement.
It’s most effective for people who have arthritis or muscle pain caused by injuries like bone fractures.
Guasha or “scraping” is a form of therapy used to treat pain and tight muscles in the back and legs. Guasha is a method that applies gentle pressure and friction to the skin to reach deeper muscles.
It’s similar to acupressure or acupuncture because it stimulates nerves, increases blood flow, promotes the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), and relaxes tight or sore muscles.
Massage therapy can be an effective and inexpensive treatment for many types of pain. A trained massage therapist can help you get the relief you need with gentle manipulation, stretching, and kneading of muscles.
Massage can also help improve your flexibility and range of motion, which is especially important as we age.
What Are the Benefits of Massage?
There are many types of massage therapy, including the following:
Swedish massage is a general term that refers to a variety of techniques that manipulate, stretch, and compress muscles and other soft tissues.
Holistic massage treatment methods focus on whole body health. It may include special oils, herbs, and aroma therapy.
Sports massage is a type of deep tissue massage that targets muscle knots and injuries related to exercise.
Some people use massage therapy to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Massage treatment can also improve the movement of your joints, increase your range of motion, promote better posture, and decrease menstrual and fibromyalgia pain. It can even help prevent injury by keeping your muscles flexible and strengthening your core.
What Are the Different Types of Massage?
There are many different types of massage techniques. Some of the most common are:
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a technique used to increase your flexibility and range of motion by stretching the muscles to their maximum length. It’s used to treat muscle shortening or “tightness,” which can cause poor posture, back pain, and other skeletal imbalances.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese therapy that uses the pressure of the fingers and sometimes tools like stimulation points on your skin to increase your body’s natural ability heal itself.
Autogenic training (AT) is an exercise used to reduce stress, anxiety, and other mental disorders by self-hypnosis. Your therapist will give you a set of verbal suggestions such as “your muscles feel warm and heavy” or “you feel very calm” to help you reach a special state of consciousness.
Biofeedback is a technique used to retrain your body to respond normally to common stimuli through the use of special instruments that can measure things like skin temperature, heart rate, and sweat gland activity. The information gathered from these instruments is then shown on a TV-like screen or on a computer where you can see it change as your body responds to the treatment.
Chiropractic care is a therapy that focuses on the relationship between the musculoskeletal system and nerves. It uses spinal adjustments (called “chiropractic adjustments”), massage, and exercise to correct skeletal and nerve imbalances.
Myofascial release (MFR) uses deep tissue, compression, and stretching to treat muscle knotting (called “myofascial adhesion”) that can cause pain, restricted movement, or muscle weakness.
Trigger point therapy is a form of deep tissue massage that specifically targets tight, painful spots (called “trigger points”) in your muscles that may be causing pain and other symptoms.
How Do I Find a Qualified Masseur?
There are several ways to find a qualified massage therapist in your area:
Look on websites such as Google®, Yahoo®, or Bing® for “massage” and the name of your city.
Check your phone book for local massage clinics or health spas.
Ask your primary care physician or chiropractor for a referral.
Ask your friends and family if they can recommend anyone.
What to Expect from a Massage
Your massage treatment should begin with you removing your clothing from the waist up (some therapists may allow you to keep your pants on), covering yourself with a sheet, and lying face down on a massage table. Some therapists may allow you to put on a bathing suit or underwear, while others require you to be completely naked.
Your massage will begin with your therapist applying oil or lotion to your back and then using their hands, forearms, and elbows to manipulate the muscles in the back, neck, arms, and legs. While performing this type of massage, your therapist should never apply too much pressure and should always ask you how a certain area feels.
Most massages last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, but sometimes can last up to two or three hours if you are receiving a special treatment called “shiatsu.”
What to Expect After the Massage
After your massage treatment, you might experience some soreness in the muscles that were treated. This is completely normal and can last up to 24 hours.
Some people also report feeling energized and more relaxed after their treatment.
You should feel free to drink plenty of water after your massage. Some professionals recommend an electrolyte solution such as Gatorade or Powerade for rehydration following strenuous exercise or massage.
When Should I Call the Massage Therapist?
Most massage therapists will have you fill out a short form before your massage begins that asks questions about your medical history and current health status. Some therapists will ask you additional questions when you arrive for your treatment. It is important to be completely honest with your massage therapist so they can customize your treatment and determine if you should receive certain techniques or if you are experiencing symptoms that need further evaluation.
Sources & references used in this article:
Treatment of plantar fasciitis by CC Young, DS Rutherford, MW Niedfeldt – American family physician, 2001 – aafp.org
Plantar fasciitis and other causes of heel pain by SL Barrett, R O’Malley – American Family Physician, 1999 – aafp.org
Transverse frictional massage for plantar fasciitis: a clinical pilot trial by G Formosa, G Smith – International Musculoskeletal Medicine, 2011 – Taylor & Francis
Plantar fasciitis: diagnosis and therapeutic considerations. by M Roxas – Alternative medicine review, 2005 – Citeseer
Diagnosis and treatment of plantar fasciitis by JD Goff, R Crawford – American family physician, 2011 – aafp.org
Plantar fasciitis: a concise review by EN Schwartz, J Su – The Permanente Journal, 2014 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov