When we hear the word “massage,” we typically associate it with muscles. Got a sore muscle? Get it massaged. Got knots in your muscles? Get them massaged. Are stiff muscles getting you stressed? Get them massaged.
But what about getting a massage for your joints? We don’t usually associate massages with bones and joints. After all, massage therapists typically target specific muscle groups whenever they work on a body. What we don’t realize is that the less stressed a muscle gets, the less pressure it puts on the joint. Movement and relaxation are more natural, so as a result, we also get to relax our joints.
Getting a massage when you already have arthritis might make you hesitate because of the pain involved. But the truth is, a massage should never be painful. It should be comforting and relaxing. Slight discomfort and momentary soreness may occur, but those symptoms will go away shortly after.
Now that you’re armed with information about why massages are great for your arthritis, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you go to your first session
• Always communicate – you may not know the exact technique your therapist is using, and that’s ok. Their job is to work their magic on your muscles, and your job is to give them feedback during the session. If you start feeling uncomfortable, let them know. Their goal is to help you relax.
• Consider a full body massage instead of just one area – while it makes sense to focus an entire massage session on only one problematic area, consider turning it into a full-body massage. Doing so will help your other muscles relax, which in turn also enables you to relax. And when your entire body is comfortable, your body is less achy.
• Always consult your doctor – massage therapies are not meant to replace traditional medicine. They’re supposed to be complementary treatments, working in tandem with your medication to relieve your symptoms. As such, always talk with your doctor about any massage plans. The last thing you need is to make your symptoms worse, leaving you with more pain.
• Pain is not part of the therapy – never lay down on the massage table and think that the pain is a part of everything. Grinning and bearing the pain is not helpful, and with your arthritis, it can also be dangerous. Always communicate any pain and discomfort to your therapist. Let them know to decrease the pressure, even just on certain spots.
Living with arthritis does not have to be debilitating. Yes, it’s painful during flare-ups, but you can manage these symptoms with proper self-care. Taking any required medication, seeking out massage therapies to help you relax, and sleeping well during the night can go a long way in keeping you happy and pain-free.