We have all heard the term massage, but what would you expect if you went for a massage session? There are many different kinds of massage each with different origins and aims. I have listed some of the commonest forms and some of the conditions that they treat although this is not exhaustive.
Swedish or massage therapy. This is the most common form of massage, aimed at relieving aches and pains, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, headaches and migraines using kneading, long smooth strokes and circular movements.
Aromatherapy massage. Uses essential oils that can relax, energize reduce stress and decongest. Each condition is addressed by a different highly concentrated oil which is added to the massage oil or lotion known as the base oil.
Hot stone massage. Heated smooth stones are placed on the body at precise points to relieve conditions such as poor circulation, insomnia and depression. Cool marble stones are also used on areas affected by inflammation.
Indian head massage. Has been practiced in India for over 1000 years. The masseur stands behind the client and works over the upper area of the neck, arms, scalp and face using a flowing motion relieving headaches, tension and stiffness improving circulation, relaxing and promoting a feeling of well being.
Thai massage. Is wonderfully soothing creating feelings of well being and calm. The aim of Thai massage is to relieve tension in the body and for pain relief. It improves the performance of the lymph glands improves blood circulation and the immune system. Musculoskeletal conditions such as back, neck shoulder hip and leg are ideally suited to this form of massage.
How can massage help you?
Ask some one who has had a massage why, their answer will probably be because it feels good and it is relaxing. True though that is, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Massage can help us in our quest to become fitter, healthier, happier people. Massage improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients and increase blood flow to muscles. Following a workout or exercise session the muscles need to relax and rebuild, massage aids and reduces this recovery time.
Massage improves muscle flexibility increasing muscle power and performance. The increase in circulation helps to shift toxins that have built up in the muscles. Because of this increase in flexibility, power and performance injuries and over working of muscles are less likely to happen. Injury is one of the main reasons people give up on an exercise routine, this in turn can lead to weight gain. With the help of massage we can increase metabolic rate and burn more calories. There is also some evidence that massage can directly improve your chances of losing weight by bursting the fat capsules in subcutaneous tissue so that the fat exudes and becomes absorbed.
We can all appreciate the physical benefits of massage, but how many of us consider the effect massage can have on our mental state? We live in an increasingly hectic world, even as school children we are tested, retested and pigeon holed, bombarded with advertising for the latest” must have” gadget. This assault continues into adulthood and work. We worry that house prices are to high for us to be able to get on the property ladder, when we do manage it we worry because house prices have dropped and negative equity. Wages don’t keep up with the cost of living and the 101 other issues, phew! No wonder people experience so much stress and the heart attack rate is so high.
Now I am not suggesting that massage is a panacea but it sure can make a big difference. Therapeutic massage can nurture peace of mind and reduce levels of anxiety and stress, that insurmountable problem standing in your path like a granite block can following a massage session appear not so big, your confidence in your own capacity for thinking your way around situations regained. For people taking exams regardless of age massage is a wonderful tool, it helps to create a relaxed state of mental awareness and enhances the capacity for calm, careful creative thinking. Perhaps most importantly massage increases the awareness of mind-body connection it helps us to pull the three elements physical, mental and spiritual back together making us whole.