Massage is a treatment that aims to relax, revive and heal the body. Using manual hands-on movements and manipulation of the soft tissues and muscles within the body, massage therapy works to promote healing and enhance a person’s overall well-being.
There are many types of massage therapy, each with its own benefits. No longer is massage thought of as a luxury, only available to those that can afford it. Treatment is out there for anyone, whether for relaxation purposes, sports recovery or for pain relief.
What is massage therapy?
A Massage is simply the practice of rubbing, kneading, rolling and pressing the skin and muscles using the hands. During a massage, a massage therapist will apply gentle or strong pressure to the muscles and joints of the body to ease pain and tension. A massage therapist could be a person trained in giving massages.
Purpose of Massage?
Generally, massage is delivered to enhance the flow of blood and lymph (fluid in lymph glands, a part of the immune system), to cut back muscular tension or flaccidity, to affect the nervous system through stimulation or sedation, and to boost tissue healing. Massage therapy can also be recommended for its documented clinical benefits like improving pulmonary function in young asthma patients, reducing psychoemotional distress in individuals who are suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, helping with weight gain, improving motor development in premature infants, and enhancing immune system functioning.
Benefits of massage therapy
People use massage for varied types of health-related purposes. Therapeutic massage may be recommended for children and adults to deliver benefits such as the following :
- Reducing muscle tension and stiffness
- Increasing joint and limb flexibility and range of motion
- Relieving muscle spasms
- Increasing ease and efficiency of movement
- Relieving points of tension and overall stress; inducing relaxation
- Improving blood circulation and movement of lymph
- Promoting deeper and easier breathing
- Relieving tension-related headaches and eyestrain
- Promoting faster healing of soft tissue injuries, like pulled muscles and sprained ligaments
- Reducing pain and swelling associated with injuries
- Reducing the formation of scar tissue following soft tissue injuries
- Enhanced health and nourishment of skin
- Improving posture by changing tension patterns that affect posture
- Reducing emotional or physical stress and reducing anxiety
- Promoting feelings of well-being
- Increasing awareness of the mind-body connection and improving mental awareness and alertness generally.
Types of Massage Therapies
With more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork therapies available around the world, understandably, it can get a bit overwhelming. Below we will take a glance at a number of the most common and well-known types of massage, to assist you to learn which kind of massage therapy may be right for you.
Swedish massage is a gentle kind of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who:
- are new to massage
- have loads of tension
- are sensitive to the touch.
This massage is designed to enhance circulation, soothe muscles and improve relaxation. It uses five main techniques; stroking and gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping or pounding, and vibration. Swedish massage is what you most likely consider a ‘typical’ massage.
This form of massage helps to stimulate the skin and nervous system and exercises the ligaments and tendons to keep them supple. the method may be incredibly relaxing and is championed for its ability to scale back both emotional, and physical stress.
Hot Stone Massage
The hot stone massage is best for those who have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax. this kind of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands. It eases muscle tension, improves blood flow, and relieves pain by using heated stones. Hot stone massage may help in-
- Easing up muscle tension
- Improve blood flow
- Alleviate pain
- Promote relaxation
- Relieve stress
During a hot stone massage, heated stones are placed on different areas around your whole body. Your therapist may hold a stone as they massage different parts of your body using Swedish massage techniques using gentle pressure. Sometimes cold stones are also used.
You don’t wear clothes for hot stone massage unless you’ll feel easier wearing your underwear. you’ll be covered with a sheet. Usually, this massage is 90 minutes long.
Aromatherapy massages are best for people that want to own an emotional healing component to their massage. this kind of massage can help in :
- Boosting up your mood
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Relieve muscle tension
- Relieve pain
Aromatherapy massages combine soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils. Your massage therapist will usually decide which essential oils to use, but you’ll allow them to know if you have got a preference. Essential oils are diluted before being applied to the skin.
During the massage, you’ll be given a full-body massage while inhaling essential oils through a diffuser and absorbing them through your skin. Sometimes an aromatherapy massage will only target your back, shoulders, and head. You won’t wear any clothing apart from underwear, which is optional. An aromatherapy massage can be 60–90 minutes long.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage uses slow, firm strokes and pressure to help ease and release tension deep in your muscles. Commonly accustomed treat chronic aches and pains and tension in the neck, back, and shoulders, deep tissue massage is an intense but effective treatment. Deep tissue massage is usually used for medical reasons by physiotherapists and chiropractors, or through GP referral.
During a deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will use slow strokes and deep finger pressure to alleviate tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues. you can be naked during this massage or wear your underwear.
The massage will last for 60–90 minutes. While deep tissue could also be more intense, you shouldn’t feel any pain or soreness.
Designed to ease stress and relieve any aches and pains in the body during pregnancy, prenatal massage can help to relax and prepare expectant mums for labor. Prenatal massage is a gentle therapy, involving light, rhythmic techniques, tailored to the woman’s needs and the current stage of pregnancy. Typically, pillows and/or a massage table are going to be used to enhance comfort and support the body during treatment.
Postnatal massage is meant to assist both the mind and body adjust and recovering from childbirth. Using gentle techniques, benefits include reduced stress and improved sleep. Also thought to ease aches and pains, speed up recovery and rebalance hormones, postnatal massage is out there to new mums as soon as they feel ready.
Developed to assist with muscle systems used for a specific sport, sports massage uses a range of approaches to help athletes in training -before, during, or after sports events. you may use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.
A sports massage may be done as a full-body massage or the massage therapist may focus on the parts of the body that require the foremost attention. Deep pressure could also be alternated with soothing strokes as per your needs.
You can have a sports massage while clothed or naked. If you prefer to wear clothing, ensure it’s thin, loose, and allows the therapist access to your muscles. Loose shorts and a tank top are options. The massage will last for 60–90 minutes.
Trigger Point Massage
Trigger point massages are best fitted to people that have injuries, chronic pain, or a particular issue or condition. Sometimes areas of tightness in the muscle tissues, called trigger points, can cause pain in other parts of the body. By that specializing in relieving trigger points, this kind of massage can reduce pain.
Trigger point massage uses broad, flowing strokes that are gentle and relaxing combined with stronger, deeper pressure. The massage will include work on your entire body, though your therapist will concentrate on specific areas of your body that require to be released. you can wear lightweight clothing for the massage or be fully or partially undressed. This type of massage will usually last for 60–90 minutes.
Thai massage is best for people that need a more active type of massage and wish to cut back and relieve pain and stress. It may also help to improve :
- Energy levels
Thai massage works the whole body using a sequence of movements that are almost like yogic stretching. Your therapist will use their palms and fingers to use firm pressure on your body. You’ll also be stretched and twisted into various positions. you can wear loose, comfortable clothing during the massage. Thai massage lasts for 60–90 minutes.
Reflexology is best for folks that are looking to relax or restore their natural energy levels. It’s also a decent option if you aren’t comfortable being touched on your entire body. Reflexology uses gentle to firm pressure on different pressure points of the feet, hands, and ears. you can wear loose, comfortable clothing that permits access to your legs. A reflexology massage lasts for 30–60 minutes.
There are numerous kinds of massage therapy, with treatment and techniques varying all over the globe. What might work for one person, might not work for you, so make sure to try and do your research and ask questions.
Other types of massage include :
- Chinese massage
- Shiatsu massage
- Lymphatic Drainage Massage
- Amatsu massage
- Lomi Lomi massage
- Couple’s massage
- Chair massage
- Bamboo massage
- Indian head massage
How can you find a massage therapist?
You can get a personal recommendation for a massage therapist from a doctor, friend, or an internet directory. Otherwise, you can book a couple of massages with different therapists to examine which one you like. ensure it’s someone with whom you are feeling comfortable in order that you’ll be able to fully relax.
Make sure your massage therapist is properly trained and has certificates and state licenses that are up-to-date. you may wish to have a short conversation together with your therapist before beginning your sessions so that you may communicate your expectations and ask any relevant questions.
Preparing for your massage therapy
Once you’ve selected the type of massage right for you, you’ll get to find a massage therapist and book a session. But what next?
If you’re worried or unsure of the way to prepare for a massage, make sure to speak along with your therapist and you can also speak to friends and family who have had a massage before but remember that they may have had a special kind of massage, for different reasons.
Of course, the questions you ask will depend upon the kind of massage you have chosen, and also the reasons why you are seeking treatment. However, common concerns include :
What should I wear?
A common concern, and one that usually puts people off the idea of treatment. It may be awkward, not knowing what to expect and indeed, what clothing (and how much of it) you’re to wear and what may be removed. The thing to bear in mind is, the therapist is a professional. If you’re worried before the session, just ask.
Typically, you’re required to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing for treatment. Some massage types require less clothing (with your modesty protected) while others are fully clothed.
Will oils be used?
Not all treatments use oils, but if you’re concerned or have any allergies, make sure to talk to the therapist before the session. Typically oils are used for 2 reasons. the first as a lubricant, aiding within the first strokes and movements of the hand to glide on the skin. The second, to promote relaxation through inhalation of the aromas.
The Bottom Line
Massage may be the way for you to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Experiment with different kinds of massage and with different massage therapists to seek out the type and provider that is most ideal for you.
Always communicate your expectations and intentions with your massage therapist and speak up if there’s something with which you aren’t comfortable. Discuss with your doctor before getting any sort of message if you’ve got any health concerns or conditions.