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Massage: The bare facts!

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When you mention massage there are two standard reactions;

“Oo-er! Massage!” or “Oww! Massage”

Sorry to stereotype, but the 1st comment usually comes from the men who have never stepped inside a salon or clinic in their lives and still have that fantasy of all masseurs asking if you want “extras”! So, to clear up this misconception, masseurs are not found in the seedy, back streets of many a TV drama but are qualified, professional and dedicated therapists.

The 2nd comment is usually from anyone who has had a niggle in their back/leg/neck and eventually it’s turned into a muscle spasm beyond the help of a couple of ibuprofen and a warm bath! So off to the local salon/clinic they go and find that to release the muscle the therapist has to do a deep muscle release that can be a little uncomfortable. But believe me, the immense relief after the muscle is released is worth every second of discomfort during a treatment.

These days when you go into a salon or clinic, you are usually presented with a wide array of massage options, some of which I will give you a brief insight into here, to help you make an informed choice.

Massage is generally performed in a calm environment where soft music and essential oils may be used to create the right atmosphere. All medical conditions must be disclosed during the consultation before treatment to enable the therapist to treat you with the correct essential oils (if used) and techniques.

In a lot of treatment lists the only choice you’ll see is “Massage” and then a choice of times this is available in.

You can generally assume that this style of treatment will be what therapists are taught in college using
traditional techniques from Europe, formalised by Per Henrik Ling and form the basis of Swedish massage.

Within this style of massage the lymphatic and circulatory systems are cleansed and stimulated and muscular tension eased, all leading to the feeling of a weight being removed from the body. This is a great treatment for general muscle tension, aches and for relaxation. The treatment is generally carried out with pre-blended oil, unless your therapist is qualified in blending prescription oils.

Aromatherapy massage has been around for many generations and there is proof that aromatic products were being used as far back as 4500BC. The most commonly known history of aromatic preparations has got to be from the Egyptians. They used perfumes and oils as offerings to their gods as well as for medical and magical purposes. And as they believed in reincarnation they wanted to keep the body in good condition ready for the afterlife, so therefore, embalmed them with aromatic resins and pure essences. It is because of the great anti bacterial and antiseptic power of some of the oils used that mummies have been found thousands of years later perfectly preserved.

Today, however, aromatherapy is better known as a gentle, relaxing massage therapy, incorporating two of our senses - touch and smell.

Your therapist will carry out a thorough consultation and will then blend prescription oils to help alleviate symptoms of any ailments you may have. The oils are applied to the body using massage techniques and will work to help rebalance, rejuvenate, invigorate or relax, entirely depending on the needs of each individual.

Indian Head Massage is a massage technique that has been used in India for thousands of years and is an ancient family tradition. It is based on the Ayurvedic healing system that has an holistic approach. It aims to restore balance to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.

It can help alleviate symptoms from many ailments such as; stress, anxiety and depression, relieve congestion and sinusitis, improve mobility of limbs, releasing pain, improves sleep patterns, promote hair growth and texture, improves energy levels and relax the mind, body and soul. This can be performed over clothing and seated in a chair or with oils and lying on a couch; this is a very adaptable treatment.

Sports Massage is a specialist treatment, so please ensure you are going to a therapist qualified in the correct style of massage.

Sports Massage is the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, ligaments and tendons. To benefit from a sports massage you do not need to be a sports performer. There are many practitioners that work with a great range of clients. The benefits can also help relieve many day-to-day problems that everyone suffers from.

Hot Stone Massage is performed using smooth pieces of basalt rock, which are heated in water before being used to massage with. The heat will help to release muscle tension, improve the circulation and relax the nervous system. This is ideal if you prefer a lighter massage.

Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localised finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for 2 to 8 seconds to improve the flow of energy through the body and regain a balance within. This is a great treatment to help relax muscles, alleviate stress and improve circulation.

Thai massage is similar to shiatsu but includes stretching and compressions. The therapist will move you around, a little like doing assisted yoga moves and is therefore carried out on the floor on a padded mat, so comfortable clothing is required. It is a very energizing technique that is helpful in relieving stress and increasing the flexibility and range of movement.

I could go on forever with different styles of massage, of which there are many, including pregnancy massage and reflexology, but those are different articles altogether!

The most important thing to remember, whichever massage you book, is to ensure that your therapist is qualified in those specific techniques.

Enjoy your treatment!