Massage is quite probably one of the oldest forms of healing therapy that is still available to us.
For such a long time I avoided having massages. I am not really sure what it was that bothered me. Perhaps my prudish idea that if I got a male I might feel uncomfortable about having his hands on me. perhaps it was body shame. I am not really sure.
When I finally took the plunge into that beautiful sparkling pool of massage it was like dipping into the fountain of youth.
We all know that massage is amazing for relaxing your body and mind and thanks to the lovely release of endorphins it leaves you feeling relaxed and jelly-like, ready for the onslaught of your surly teenager arriving home from school or chaotic traffic as you play taxi driver to your family.
Whatever your stresses are you will be better prepared for them, that day at least.
It is not just the darkened room and the soothing sounds that relax you. Studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol drops significantly after a massage and the happy hormones Dopamine and Serotonin increase significantly.
Some types of massage therapies are similar modalities to physical therapy and can ease tight muscles with the added benefit of relieving the associated pain. They can also help to loosen up joints thereby improving stiffness, functionality and any pain caused by osteoarthritis. This sort of manipulation and the resultant relaxed muscles can greatly improve posture.
A good massage can improve your white cell count which in turn boosts your immunity. Certainly better than any cold medicine I ever tried!
Massage improves blood circulation allowing oxygen and nutrients to tone, and improve the texture of our skin. The gorgeous oils and lotions will soothe it. I always love the fresh face look I have after a face massage.
Perhaps the form most of us are familiar with Swedish massage involves long flowing strokes, and some manipulation and tapping. It is primarily for relaxation.
A massage therapy that uses smooth, heated stones. The therapist places the hot stones on specific points on your body and may also hold the stones while giving the massage.
Aromatherapy massage is less about getting the kinks and knots out physically and more about using the restorative properties of essential oils to relax and heal your body and mind.
A type of massage therapy, deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. I have even had ‘tennis elbow’, an RSI successfully treated with this form of massage. After an injury, the surrounding area can tighten up. This is the sort of massage that can prevent that.
Sports massage specifically treats different sports and sporting injuries. It is not relaxing and can often be quite strenuous. It works by stretching tight muscles, stimulating inactive muscles and improving the condition of the soft tissue thereby helping to prevent injury.
Reflexology involves applying pressure to reflex points in the hands and feet. It is said that these points are connected to specific organs or parts of the body through energy channels. For example, the ball of the foot is connected to the heart and chest.
Shiatsu techniques include massages with fingers, thumbs, feet and palms. It also includes assisted stretching and joint manipulation and mobilization in order to restore the body’s energy flow or chi. A shiatsu practitioner uses palpation and, sometimes, pulse diagnosis to diagnose a patient.
An ancient healing system combining acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic ( a system of Indian medicine) principles, and assisted yoga postures. The patient remains clothed and no oils are used. The practitioner compresses, pulls, stretches and rocks the body.
So which form of massage would you choose?
Myself I prefer Swedish for relaxation. Deep tissue if I am in need. However, after writing this I am keen to try a Shiatsu massage.