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Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the practice of rubbing and kneading the body using the hands for enhancing wellbeing

 

An Introduction to Massage Therapy

Massage is the manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscles, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and wellbeing. When massage is used to improve someone’s health, it is known as massage therapy.

 

What is Massage Therapy?

Manage Therapy is an ancient form of healing that dates back 5000 years and has been mentioned in ancient texts from Egypt, Rome, China, Greece, India, and Japan.

You may already be familiar with the practice under different names, like Swedish or Thai massage. Each type of massage has its own unique benefits, and one type may suit you better than the others.

In general, a massage is intended to promote relaxation, taking the body into a restorative state and it can be used to address a number of different health problems.

How can Massage Therapy benefit you?

How can Massage Therapy benefit you?

Massage may be a way for you to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. People who use Massage Therapy find the benefits to be wide ranging including:

  • Improve muscle strength and tone
  • Improve flexibility, posture and mobility
  • Find balance & harmony
  • Increase energy and vitality
  • Improve happiness
  • Find relaxation
  • Life longevity
  • Improve mental wellbeing
  • Manage stress

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Further Reading / Massage studies

More and more studies are being conducted into the health benefits of Massage Therapy and the preliminary findings are very promising.

 

Muscle tension and soreness

Massage therapy can improve general blood flow for up to 72 hours. In an interesting study, Chicago researchers investigated if massage therapy could alleviate muscle soreness and improve systemic circulation after exercise. They found pleasing results for both patients who exercised and those who didn’t.

After exercising their legs to soreness, patients received a 30-minute Swedish massage to the affected leg and reported no continuing soreness after 90 minutes. In addition, ultrasound scans showed an increase in blood flow after the massage until finally tapering off 72 hours later. Interestingly, those who didn’t exercise also saw identical results in blood flow as those who did exercise. The study suggests massage therapy can provide significant benefits to people suffering from circulation conditions or muscle soreness after exercising.

 

Physical and mental fatigue

A study comparing the benefits of Thai massage and Swedish massage found that both styles of massage improved sleep, feelings of stress and relief of muscular tension. Swedish massages caused a larger improvement in sleep however Thai massages were more successful at energising, rejuvenating and mentally stimulating the recipients.

 

Lower back pain

In a summary of evidence-based research, published by the Australian Association of Massage Therapy they found evidence concluding that massage therapy for subacute and chronic low back pain to be more effective than placebo.

 

Anxiety, Stress and depressive symptoms

In the same evidence-based review, multiple studies provided good evidence supporting the effectiveness of massage therapy in managing anxiety, stress and promoting relaxation. Alongside anxiety and stress, other positive outcomes from massage therapy included a reduction in depressive symptoms and improved quality of life amongst others.

In a study of 58 children with asthma, doctors found a daily 30-minute massage significantly reduced their symptom-induced anxiety. A test group received massage therapy given by their parents before bedtime for 4 weeks, in addition to their standard treatments. Results showed the massage group had significant improvements compared to the control group who received their usual asthma treatments but no massage. Implying that massage therapy can play a key role in reducing anxiety in asthma patients

Headaches

A study in the American Journal of Public Health in 2002 showed that massage therapy was effective in the reduction of the occurrence of headaches per week for chronic sufferers. Headaches were reduced even within one week of massage treatment.

 

Sports Recovery 

In a randomised trial, seventy-four triathlon athletes who completed an entire Ironman triathlon race and whose main complaint was a pain in the anterior portion of the thigh participated. The trial concluded massage therapy was more effective than no intervention on the post-race recovery from pain and perceived fatigue in long-distance triathlon athletes. However, there are few, well-controlled studies evaluating the effects of massage therapy on recovery making firm conclusions difficult.

Research from a 2014 study found that a post-exercise massage can significantly reduce pain. And over the long term, regularly getting massages may increase your body’s ability to fight off Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Another 2015 study showed that massaged muscles contain more blood vessels than massage-free ones, which may result in improved recovery. They also display only half of the scar tissue that non-massaged muscles do.

What are common types of Massage Therapy?

What are common types of Massage Therapy?

You may already be familiar with massage therapy under different names. With more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork therapies available around the world, understandably, it can get a little overwhelming.

Below we look at some of the most common forms of massage, to help you learn which type of massage might be right for you. Each type of massage has its own unique benefits, and one type may suit you better than the others.

 

Swedish massage

Is a popular restorative massage designed to relax you. Your therapist will use deep circular motions, long movements and kneading to stimulate blood flow and ease muscle tension. This is a great style if you are new to massage, as it tends to be gentler and the most relaxing. Note, you’re expected to undress for this style of massage and be sure to tell your therapist if their pressure is too firm.

 

Hot stone massage

Another relaxing massage therapy, similar to a Swedish massage. During a session, your therapist applies warm stones to different parts of your body. The weight and warmth of the stones aim to melt away tension and stress. Again you don’t wear clothes for this therapy, and a session is usually 90 minutes long.

 

Aromatherapy massage

An aromatherapy massage is similar to a deep tissue or Swedish massage, except essential oils will be massaged into your body to further trigger relaxation. The types of oils used will depend on what effects you want from your massage. Think invigorating scents to energise the body or more relaxing ones to help improve your sleep quality.

 

Deep tissue massage

Another common massage. A deep tissue massage is designed to do what it says on the tin – massage your deep tissues to help relieve built-up tension and muscle ‘knots’. Your therapist will use slow, deep pressure to target the inner layers of muscle fibre which may be giving you chronic pain and tension. You may feel some discomfort during a session if the therapist is working on a particular problem.

 

Sports massage

Similar to a deep tissue massage, sports massages are designed to prevent injury and improve muscle recovery time for athletes. The therapist will focus mainly on the active muscles to increase blood flow to the area and likely to apply deep pressure and trigger point techniques. This is a good option if you are recovering from an injury as a sports massage can help the body to repair itself quickly.

 

Thai massage

Thai massage uses a different method to the others mentioned above but with the same intention of restoring rest and relaxation. The therapist will move your body in certain ways, stretching and twisting you into certain positions and will apply direct pressure to your body. Expect to move a few different times during the session, and wear loose comfortable clothing.

 

Indian head massage

An Indian head massage, also known as Champissage, stems from Ayurvedic medicine. It releases tension specifically in the head, neck and shoulder area. Your therapist may or may not accompany the massage with essential oils. It is particularly beneficial if you have chronic headaches or migraines.

How do I know if Massage Therapy is right for me?

How do I know if Massage Therapy is right for me?

Massage is generally considered a safe and non-toxic form of therapy. However, if you have allergies it’s best to discuss this with your therapist first. They can always omit or swap massage oils if you have sensitive skin. If you are pregnant or have just given birth, massage therapy can be hugely beneficial to you. However, you should opt for a prenatal or postnatal massage so the therapist can focus on the specific changes your body goes through during pregnancy.

 

What to expect in your first session

Your massage session should take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room. There may be music or ambient sounds to help you relax. Depending on the type of massage, you will lie on a table especially designed for massage.

It is always good to discuss with the therapist your aim for the massage, such as relaxing or invigorating. Advise them on the pressure you prefer and do let them know if the pressure is not right for you.

Most massage techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. You should undress to your level of comfort. However, a sheet or towel is draped over you during the entire session.

 

How to find a massage therapist

There are many different massage therapy methods ranging from more holistic, energy-healing types, to more clinical, sports-injury types. It is good to first understand what you want from the massage to find a suitable practitioner.

Next, go out and try them! Regular massages can be beneficial for overall wellbeing and health. Find a practitioner whose touch you resonate with as the more you work with a single practitioner, the more they learn about your body and can support you in feeling the benefits.

Did you know that Holistify is a new way to discover & book holistic therapies?

We’re launching soon!

Subscribe to our newsletter to get 10% off your first booking.

Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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