Active military personnel and veterans can benefit from massage therapy.
Sports Massage Benefits
Massage is not just for regular relaxation and spa treatments. Athletes have been receiving benefits through sports massage. Military troops are often asked to perform athletic and physical tasks. Sports massage therapies can be helpful to them. With sports massage, the athlete can achieve peak performance, reduce and prevent injuries, and get assistance with injury recovery. A pre-event massage, about a half hour before the event, would include friction for warming up muscles, compression to improve muscle circulation, and range-of-motion for joints. Post-event massage is for recovery, soreness, and cramping, as well as circulation and range-of-motion. Compressive effleurage (to calm the nervoussystem), compression to spread muscle fibers, stretching and petrissage for muscle tension, and reciprocal inhibition (for cramps) are all special techniques included in post-event massage. Maintenance massage is often used between events as part of overall wellness. This aims to help the athlete’s “strength, flexibility, coordination, biomechanics, posture, stress patterns, scar tissue and existing injuries”. Rehabilitation massage is an adjunct therapy to medical care, and it can reduce pain and speed the healing process. The types of techniques used include trigger point massage, cross-fiber friction, lymphatic drainage, effleurage, neuromuscular therapy, and compression.1
Massage Therapy in the Military
Even if injuries don’t occur on the battlefield, troops can suffer from musculoskeletal complaints and accidents. Massage is often used for pain relief. More than half of the pain complaints are about the lower back, as well as “nonradicular extremity pain”, according to a recent study. Traditional treatment options have included pain medications (i.e., opioids, NSAIDs) and surgical procedures. Alternative therapy holds the promise of drug-free assistance, however, without the side effects and risks of medications and surgical procedures. Chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and dietary supplements (glucosamine/chondroitin) are some of the alternative therapy options that soldiers have sought. Massage is the most common alternative therapy offered, according to the study. Nonbattle-related injuries (NBIs), “take a serious toll on overall troop strength in modern warfare”.2 Massage therapists may not only assist with the physical injuries of the troops, but also with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) emotional scars. Trauma short-circuits neurons’ routes and changes how the brain functions. PTSD is also known as “shell-shock,battle fatigue and soldier’s heart”, and it can affect the rest of the patient’s life. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occurs soon after the traumatic event, with symptoms of helplessness, horror, and fear. Patients may be hyperaroused or hypervigilant and practice avoidance. Over time, PTSD can develop and intensify symptoms, including emotional numbing, dissociation, relationship troubles, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and nightmares or flashbacks. Massage can help veterans and troops with the PTSD, in conjunction with other professional care. Chair massage and clothed massage may be the first step in massage treatment. For some, Reiki may be the first option, if the patient is not yet ready to be touched.3 Massage therapy is offered to wounded warriors through organizations such as CAUSE (Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services).4 Many massage clinics offer military discounts. Sometimes free massages are available, such as on Veterans’ Day.5
Find out information regarding chiropractic treatment in the military.