Getting a massage used to be thought of as a luxury – something only to be done on special occasions as a rare treat in spas. However, massages are now being offered in a variety of settings such as offices, hospitals, airports, and clinics, due to their profound benefits.
Massage is defined as the manipulation of soft body tissues through pressing and rubbing. There are many different types of massage, which range in the amount of pressure given. Some common types are Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, and trigger point massage.
Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage. It is gentle with soft, long, deep movements and tapping, which focuses on the top layers of muscles. It is energizing & relaxing and can also help relieve muscle tension. Another type of massage is a deep tissue massage, which targets the deep layers of muscles, tendons, and connective tissue. The strokes are more forceful and slower than a Swedish massage and it helps with chronic tension and injuries as well as painful, stiff muscles. Sports massage is similar to Swedish massage however, it is aimed at preventing and treating those involved in sports. Trigger point massage focuses on a specific tight muscle, which is often the result of overuse or injury.
There are many benefits to massage including stress release, relaxation, muscle tension release, and pain release. Additionally, massage has been shown to treat anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, fibromyalgia, joint pain, insomnia, and injuries. It can also boost immune function, reduce chemotherapy-related nausea, and improve cardiovascular health. Some people also appreciate the massage experience because it creates a mental relaxation and a feeling of comfort.
It is important to note that massage may not be appropriate for everyone. Those with fractures, deep vein thrombosis, bleeding disorders, severe osteoporosis, and burns or wounds should discuss massage with their doctor. Additionally, women who are pregnant and individuals with cancer should consult their physician before getting a massage.
A massage should never hurt or be uncomfortable. Make sure to communicate your goals for the massage, the areas to concentrate on, and the type of pressure you are comfortable with to the massage therapist. Massages can be performed lying down or in a chair. When having a full body massage, undress to the point where you feel comfortable. Also, remember to breathe during the massage so that you don’t tense up and make the muscles more difficult to tackle. Drink plenty of water after a massage in order remove waste and rehydrate the muscles. Heating the muscles, either through a sauna, steam, or hot shower will help relax the muscles and relax your mind as well as help the therapist get out those stubborn knots. If you are going to exercise on the day of a massage, it is better to exercise before the massage so that you don’t strain something that has just been relaxed.
Massage is a great tool to improve mental & physical health along with fitness. While some massages can be costly, there are a variety of less expensive options available for all budgets. Massage is an all-around great therapy and treatment for many ailments. Don’t think of it as a special treat but rather think of it as a necessary part of your health regime.
By Denise Groothuis