For some, massage is all about leisure. It’s a way to wind down at the end of the day or to treat oneself after a tough project. But long before massage was a spa-resort staple, it was a valuable tool in medicine. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that massage still plays a practical role when it comes to health and wellness—even after major medical operations. This is when and how massage can help post-surgery.
How Massage Can Help Post-Surgery
One thing patients coming out of surgery have to cope with more than anything else is pain. Although hospitals prescribe powerful medications in most instances, massage can offer an additional, natural way to fight pain as well. Massage helps release built-up tension in muscles, break up knots, reduce spasms, and release pressure on the joints. This is especially beneficial for lingering, chronic muscle soreness.
Swelling is a natural part of the post-operation healing process. It is usually caused by inflammation or a buildup of fluids. Even so, swelling can be painful for patients and limit their mobility. Deep muscle massage helps promote circulation and releases built-up pressure. With the pressure released, fluids are able to better drain from the system, relieving swelling.
Most of us have been scarred at some point in our lives, but not everyone realizes how or why. When we receive a wound—such as during surgery—the body works to heal by producing an excess of collagen fibers that form scar tissue. Although this tissue bridges the gaps surgeries cause, it isn’t as elastic as normal body tissue and can hinder mobility.
Massage can help loosen these stiff collagen fibers to help increase the body’s mobility after surgery. Additionally, as you massage these tissues, it may reduce the dark appearance of the scars.
Boosting Immune System
After surgery, the body is more vulnerable, leaving it more susceptible to illness. This can hinder one’s recovery process. Fortunately, massage helps stimulate white blood cell production in the body while reducing cortisol, which suppresses immune system activity. It also helps increase circulation, allowing these white blood cells to be carried throughout the body.
Improving Body Awareness
Part of effective surgery recovery is being sure that you treat affected areas of the body with care. However, the pain and numbness associated with surgery recovery and the effect of medications can make it difficult to be aware of one’s body and needs. Massage therapy helps patients become aware of their body as well as other physical sensations such as breathing. This helps patients relax and treat their bodies with care.
Providing Emotional Support
The physical strain of surgery and recovery can have an impact on our minds. Circumstances surrounding a surgery are often traumatic, even when the surgery is successful. This alone can lead to pervasive stress and anxiety. On top of that, being constrained to bedrest and living in constant pain can leave a patient feeling isolated and depressed.
Fortunately, massage contributes to overall feelings of relaxation. Massage helps decrease the brain’s production of stress hormones like cortisol and increase the production of feel-good hormones such as dopamine. Additionally, it helps reduce the physical effects of stress, such as muscle tension and increased heart rate.
Types of Massages To Get After Surgery
Because surgery impacts the body on a more profound level than other sources of muscle soreness, those who turn to massage after surgery tend to choose a more intensive or therapeutic massage. Deep tissue massages can better break up knots and help loosen collagen compared to more causal massages. If you are using a massage chair, focus on 4D-roller or zero-gravity massage chair programs.
The traits that make massage perfect for counteracting an injury also make it perfect for recovering after a surgery. Heat helps stimulate blood flow, aiding in the release of backed-up fluids. It also helps release tension and relax away pain in the muscles and joints, making it uniquely suited to reduce post-surgery pain. However, avoid heat massage if you are suffering from inflammation, or pair it with cold therapy.
When To Get a Massage After Surgery
While massage offers incredible benefits for those who are recovering from surgeries, care must be exercised when deciding when to begin massage therapy. Having massages done too early may cause wounds to reopen or work against healing. Here are times to start massage therapy to get the most out of your recovery.
When Wounds Heal
Anyone who has ever gotten a cut will tell you that a wound needs time to fully heal, and touching them can cause the wound to reopen. This is even more important when allowing surgery wounds to fully heal. While scenarios may differ, in most cases, a wound will heal completely and begin scarring after a few weeks. Once a scar is fully formed—at about six to eight weeks—you should be able to get a massage without hindering the healing process.
During Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an essential part of helping you resume your normal lifestyle by building up the strength and elasticity of muscles. With these purposes in mind, therapists may often incorporate massage as part of your physical therapy regimen. Massage gently works the muscles and joints, helping to strengthen them as well as lessen the impact of delayed onset muscle soreness from the physical therapy itself.
After Your Doctor Gives Permission
A doctor is the best person to let you know when and how massage can help post-surgery. So, if you are uncertain whether to use your massage chair, it’s best to consult them first. Additionally, they may be able to advise you on the best variety of massages as well as how often you should get a massage to fit your unique recovery needs.
Recovering from surgery isn’t always easy, but fortunately, massage is uniquely situated to aid in the recovery process. Our icomfort massage chair collection has a variety of elegant chairs equipped to meet your needs.