Massage Therapy – What it is. Types. Benefits

Massage refers to a manual manipulation of soft body tissues such as connective tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments in order to enhance an individual’s health and well-being. The therapy can be applied with the hands, fingers, forearm, elbows, knees, feet or a massage device.

In professional settings, massage clients are treated while lying on a massage table, lying on a mat on the floor or sitting in a massage chair. However, in amateur settings or during massage training in Canada, a general-purpose surface such as a bed or floor is more common. Aquatic massage and bodywork is performed with recipients floating or submersed in a warm water therapy pool. People seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons such as to reduce stress and anxiety, rehabilitate injuries, relax muscles, reduce pain and promote overall health and wellness.

Types of Massage

While there are dozens of types of massage therapies, called modalities, the two fundamental categories include Relaxation massage and Rehabilitative massage. The former is also known as Swedish massage and is usually practised in settings like spas, resorts and wellness centres while the latter, also known as deep tissue, medical and therapeutic or clinical massage, is practised in hospitals, chiropractic offices and clinics.

Benefits of Massage

There are tremendous benefits of regular massage and the therapy can be an important part of health maintenance plan by relieving stress, postoperative pain, anxiety, and tension headaches and reduce muscle tension, chemotherapeutic-related nausea, rheumatoid arthritis pain and pain of osteoarthritis. In addition, it manages lower back pain, promotes relaxation, reduces blood pressure, helps in reducing chronic neck pain, improves cardiovascular health and improves lymphatic drainage.

Considerations for choosing a massage therapist

Some of the tips to consider when choosing a massage therapist include knowing you goals by specifically identifying what you want to get out of the therapy, research and learn about the various modalities that are available and figure out what your preferences by identifying when and where to get the session.

In addition, it is vital to research the massage centre and the therapists before booking an appointment with them. Ask them for a brief phone conversation and assess their willingness to talk to you and answer your questions. Other aspects you should be looking at include their education and accreditation, practising license and where they are licensed, expertise and whether they have dealt with other clients with similar needs like yours and the types of clients they work with.

What happens during massage

Before the massage, the therapist should inquire from you about any injuries or other relevant conditions such as pregnancy, allergies and areas of tightness or pain. After the consultation, the therapist instructs you to lie on the table with your face up or face down and underneath the sheet. Usually, you start by lying face down with your head in a u-shaped face cradle to enable your spine to stay neutral.

During the massage you are encouraged to dress down to your comfort level and the therapist uncovers only the part of the body being worked on. When you are uncomfortable to undress completely, you can leave your underwear on. In all massages, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various massage strokes. Different therapists have their own style and techniques and if the pressure is too firm or light, speak up and ask the therapist to adjust it.