Massage – what is it?
Massage is defined as the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for a curative effect. Soft tissues are made more pliable through massage to promote circulation and blood flow and bring about healing effects: physical and psychological changes for general wellbeing.
The system of massage treatment involves the therapist using their hands to apply pressure on your body. Therapists use various techniques to work on the body: stroking and gliding (effleurage), kneading the soft tissues (petrissage), or what is termed ‘percussion’ (tapotement).
What are the ‘real’ benefits?
Massage therapy is extremely beneficial to people leading busy lifestyles suffering from what is now commonly encountered work related stress. Massage will not only aid with mental relaxation but will work on physical symptoms of back and neck pain that comes from sitting for an extended period of time at a desk or from physical labour.
Many people wait until they are already in pain or suffering spinal injuries before turning to massage, but why let it get that bad? It is a good idea to take regular massage as a preventative measure so that such injuries do not occur. Regular massage maintenance will increase your overall sense of wellbeing for optimum physical and mental health, helping you to achieve your goals.
Massage is used to treat a wide range of disorders, such as:
Eating disorders and digestive dysfunction
Pre-natal pregnancy conditions
Sports and dancing injuries
Types of Massage – what type of massage is best for you?
There are several forms of massage on offer, and it can be confusing to know what will work best for a particular ailment or condition. Some massage concentrates more on relaxing the client whilst others will work more deeply at repairing damaged muscle tissue. It may be that you need to try several forms of massage to find what works best for you. You can find more information regarding specific types of massage in the links below. Here is a brief summary of some commonly found massage therapies:
What should I expect from a massage session?
Massage normally takes place in a private room or space. Clients are expected to partially undress and are given a towel or robe to place over themselves. The exception to this is with ‘Mobile Massage’ whereby the client may remain clothed and is not always in a private space. Most massage will take place on a massage table lying down, but in some cases the massage takes place whilst you are seated on a massage chair.. Massage therapy can last for 10 mins to 1 hour depending what is requested.
Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of massage therapy to help you figure out which massage therapy style is right for you.
1) Swedish Massage
This is the most popular type of massage.
Massage therapists use massage lotion or oil and apply long smooth strokes, kneading friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, shaking motions and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle that apply pressure between muscles and bones, rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.
Swedish massage can be very gentle and relaxing yet invigorating. If you've never had massage before, this is a good one to try first. To learn more, read the full article on Swedish massage.
2) Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific health needs. It is somewhat of a specialty within the massage world.
The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender.
Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component. To learn more, read the full article on aromatherapy massage.
3) Hot Stone Massage
Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body and the client experiences deep relaxation. The therapist places the heated stones on the body’s acupressure points. A series of Swedish Massage style techniques is used with the therapist holding the stones and applying gentle moving pressure (with essential oils) to work away muscle tension.
The warmth is very comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage. To learn more, read the full article on hot stone massage.
4) Deep Tissue or Remedial Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue and works to heat muscles and tendons that are damaged, impaired or knotted. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle. It is designed to reach the deep sections of thick muscles, specifically the individual muscle fibres. It holistically treats the whole body and traces the discomfort back to the original cause. It uses specialised techniques to support and speed up the body's own repair mechanisms.
Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, or recovery from injury. The massage is applied directly to the skin usually with an oil lubricant. Passive stretching moves are also employed. Soreness for one to two days after really hard deep tissue massage is a strangely pleasurable discomfort, much like post exercise muscle awareness.To learn more, read the full article on deep tissue massage.
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. It is a traditional hands-on ‘healing therapy’ originating from the Japanese amma therapeutic massage. It is quite an intense form of massage whereby the therapist uses thumbs, elbows, forearms, feet and knees to apply pressure on the body. Each pressure is held for for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. This is combined with stretches, joint rotations and joint movement to give an all-over treatment
People are normally pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time. It is relaxing yet the pressure is firm and there is usually no soreness afterwards. To learn more, read the full article on shiatsu.
6) Thai Massage
Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches. This is a more physical manipulation of the body using passive stretching and gentle pressure with the hands and feet. Allied with yoga stretching movements, this massage will help to adjust the skeletal structure, increase flexibility, relieve muscular and joint tension, stimulate internal organs and balance the body's energy system. The effect is both relaxing as well as energising. This type of massage is performed on a floor mat. You don't just lie there...the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It is also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion. To learn more, read the full article on thai massage.
7) Pregnancy Massage
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman's body during the massage, and how to modify techniques.
Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. The massage is customized to a woman's individual needs. To learn more, read the full article on pregnancy massage.
Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet. To learn more, read the full article on reflexology. See a reflexology chart here.
9) Sports Massage
Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don't have to be a professional athlete to have one...it's also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn't on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance.
A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
10) Back Massage
We offer 15 to 60 minute back massages as a prelude to chiropractic. The massage therapist will focus on the areas of your neck or back that the chiropractor will be adjusting. Massage for Neck and Back Pain?
11) Myotherapy or Connective Tissue Technique – does not involve the use of oil or lotion. It is an advanced therapeutic system generally used for the treatment of chronic conditions and can relieve deep tissue adhesion, muscle tension and relieve painful symptoms of chronic diseases such as arthritis, tendonitis, TMJ and sciatica.
Can be an aid to improve posture.