Maximizing your Massage
Aaahhh…a massage, relaxing, right?
Getting a massage is now much more than just a luxury spa experience. Today, “massage” is a therapy; and it has moved into clinics, hospitals, and gyms… Some companies even offer it to employees to improve their work culture! It is often considered an alternative medicine, and prescribed along with standard treatment for a range of medical conditions.
There is evidence that massage is effective in helping to reduce stress, pain and muscle tension. A study showed that massage can reduce muscle inflammation, soreness and enhance cell recovery. Another study shows that massage also helps to reduce blood pressure and other vital signs associated with anxiety.
Most people can benefit from some massage, but you should first become familiar with the many types of massage, and their health benefits. They also range of intensity and pressure, so be ready for it! It also is a good idea to consult with your doctor, and make sure it won’t conflict with any current medical conditions you have.
Here are some of the more popular massage types:
Gentle form of massage with long strokes, kneading, tapping and deep circular movements, meant to relax and energize you.
Typically, like Swedish massage but adds scented essential oils. Different plants and scents evoke various states of mind such as relaxing or energizing. The massage therapist can help you select the right one.
A slower more forceful form of massage used to target muscle knots and tight areas. This type of massage also reaches deep muscles and connective tissue, and can also be used as therapy for an injury.
Therapist place heated, smooth stones on specific points on the body while giving the massage. The stones are usually basalt (a dark, fine-grained volcanic rock that retains heat well). The warmth from the stones can loosen tight muscles relieving tension.
This type of massage uses the “reflex areas” on the hands and feet whose energy is believed to be connected to the organs and other parts of the body. By applying pressure to these points, balance can be restored to the nervous system and it can stimulate the endorphins causing the body to relax.
Geared toward people involved in sports, this massage is like Swedish massage, but focuses on various soft tissues in the body depending upon the sport the person participates in. This massage is often used to prevent or treat injuries.
An alternative form of massage developed in Japan. The word “shiatsu” means finger pressure. It involves using fingers, thumbs, feet and sometimes elbows to apply acupressure and stretching to specific joints in the body in a rhythmic sequence. This type of massage is meant to align to and promote the flow of energy in the body and relieve tension.
A cross between assisted yoga positions, Ayervedic principles and acupressure, this form of massage is inspired by Buddhist teachings. Usually practiced on a mat on the floor, the therapist moves and stretches you in a series of positions that align to the energy flow in the body. Some say this massage can be more energizing than other forms of massage.
The local and national massage association websites are good places to go to find a certified massage therapist in your area. When scheduling your massage, be sure to pick a time when you can relax afterwards and maximize its benefits.