Indulging in a massage is most of the best ways to experience a pampering treat. It helps you to unwind and relax, and it also contributes to the easing of tensions in your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is more to massage than a simple treat though. It may have numerous health benefits if undertaken by well-trained massage therapists.
Diversity of Massages & Techniques
Massage can be applied to the full body, or targeted to areas such as the back, neck & shoulders or feet. The techniques are really diverse. Sometimes the techniques follow a traditional method and sometimes therapists offer their own signature treatments to their patients. Different massages have different focus areas and strength levels. They target different health concerns and have varied health benefits.
As far as technique is concerned, it may include light stroking movements all over the body or it may include the application of deep pressure. Massages tend to include pressing and rubbing of skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. In order to undertake massage, therapists may use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows and sometimes even their feet.
Well-known massages include traditional ones with thousands of years of history, including Ayurvedic Massage, Traditional Chinese Massage and Thai Massage. Other famous ones are recognised for their methods or benefits, including Shiatsu, Hot Stone Massage, Swedish Massage, Aromatherapy and Balinese Massage.
Benefits & Risks
For a range of medical conditions, massage is perceived as a complementary treatment. It may contribute to pain relief and reducing muscle tension in the body. The Mayo Clinic suggests that studies about massage found that they may be helpful to treat anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, insomnia related stress, soft tissue strains, injuries, knots, joint pain and stiffness, amongst others.
Also, massages may have numerous benefits that you may want to take advantage of. These include:
- enhancing the state of well-being
- stimulating the immune system
- increasing flexibility
- improving muscle tone
- stimulating blood flow
- increasing dopamine levels (responsible for muscle movement, motivation and sensation of pleasure)
- increasing serotonin levels (responsible for mood)
- decreasing cortisol levels (aka “stress hormone”, which is responsible for physical, emotional and mental stress)
It may not be a good idea to have a massage if you suffer from bleeding disorders or if you take blood-thinning medication. If you have burns or wounds on your skin or bone fractures, massage is not appropriate for you, either.
If you have ever had deep vein thrombosis or suffered from severe osteoporosis, cancer or pain you need to consult a doctor before having a massage.
If you are pregnant, you may need to seek medical advice with regards to having a massage. It’s most likely that you need to go for a massage designed specifically for pregnant women. Such massages avoid certain types of essential oils (including nutmeg, rosemary, basil, jasmine, sage, rose, juniper berry) that may be harmful during pregnancy.
If during a massage you start to feel uncomfortable, always let your therapist know about the source of that discomfort. You may have sensitive areas that need to be avoided during the massage. Just let the therapist know, as a well-trained masseuse or masseur will know what to do.
In extreme circumstances massage can cause trouble, including nerve damage or internal bleeding. However, it is a very remote possibility. More likely perhaps is to have an allergic reaction to the essential oils that may be used during the massage. In any case, if you are in doubt or fearful, choose a gentle massage based on advice of your therapist or perhaps even consult your doctor before you have the massage.
The most important thing is to relax, enjoy the experience and savour its health benefits!