I love a good massage and while I have been blogging for two months about Spa’s and various treatments I have not yet written about massage therapy which has an incredible long history in many cultures around the globe.
I like massage work to the extent I move mountains to book a weekly massage in order to completely relax for an hour and leave all my tensions behind. Massage is about investing in you! I relax in other ways as well, like meditation, stretching and exercise, but nothing seems as enjoyable, for me, as a good massage. (See my blog on how to get rid of stress http://spagirl007.blogspot.com/2009/09/spa-girl-says-get-rid-of-stress.html)
My mussels and joints get stiff much more easily than they did ten years ago, especially if I have been sitting on a plane for a long trip, or on my feet all day and a good massage relaxes and stimulates my body and I feel like a new person.
Lately I have also tried to concentrate on my breathing during the hour long session. I attended a lecture recently and the doctor giving the lecture suggested that throughout breathing exercises keep the tip of your tongue in contact with the top of your mouth, just behind your top teeth, a suggestion I have seen in several other breathing exercises.
Breathing is such an important part of any relaxing exercises, here is a site that provides some great information and suggestions for breathing techniques: http://www.chinese-holistic-health-exercises.com/anxiety-breathing-techniques.html
I think touch is also a very important part of massage therapy as human contact is essential in feeling connected and loved. Massage uses touch through kneading the muscles helping them to relax, enhance circulation and assisting the body to heal itself.
A good soft tissue massage is an exhilarating experience and there are many benefits:
Lowers blood pressure
Helps manage pain
Relieves tension headaches
Strengthens immune system
There are a number of types of massage work available such as Swedish massage, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Myofascial Release, Trager Approach, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Reiki, Cranio Sacral Therapy, Holotropic Breathwork, Polarity Therapy, and Therapeutic Touch—to name a few!
It can be difficult to weed through all the types of massage available and what is best for you. A great glossary of terms that can help better understand one from the other can be found at either of these this websites:
I also came across a great article on massage written by the Mayo Clinic Staff which I highly recommend reading. Here is some of what they had to say…
Massage can relieve tension in your muscles, and most people use it for relaxation, relief of stress and anxiety, or to reduce muscle soreness. Massage can also cause your body to release natural painkillers, and it may boost your immune system.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found it helpful for:
Anxiety Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.
Pain Pain was decreased in people with fibromyalgia, migraines and recent surgery. Back pain also might be relieved by massage. However, back pain study results have been contradictory, and more research is required.
Labor pain Massage during labor appears to lessen stress and anxiety, relax muscles and reduce pain.
Infant growth Massage encouraged weight gain in premature babies and reduced the number of days they stayed in the hospital.
Children with diabetes Children who were massaged every day by their parents were more likely to stick to their medication and diet regimens, which helped reduce their blood glucose levels.
Sports-related soreness Some athletes receive massages after exercise, especially to the muscles they use most in their sport or activity. A massage might help increase blood flow to your muscles and may reduce muscle soreness after you exercise.
Alcohol withdrawal Massage during withdrawal from alcohol has shown benefits when combined with traditional medical treatment by increasing feelings of support, safety and engagement in the therapy.
Immune system People with HIV who participated in massage studies showed an increased number of natural killer cells, which are thought to defend the body from viral and cancer cells.
Cancer treatment People with cancer who received regularly scheduled massage therapy during treatment reported less anxiety, pain and fatigue.
Self-esteem Because massage involves direct contact with another person through touch, it can make you feel cared for. That special attention can improve self-image in people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses. And using touch to convey caring can help children with severe physical disabilities
Read the full article at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/massage/SA00082
When deciding on massage work ultimately it is important to understand what you want to achieve and who best can help you, a registered massage therapist, a spa technician or even your partner if they are willing.