By Michelle Owens
While a soothing massage is one of the best ways to relax and renew, that’s not all its good for where the body is concerned. Massage is more than a luxurious indulgence. It’s a holistic therapy with proven medical benefits.
Anyone concerned with health and wellness should include regular massage as a part of his or her wellness routine.
People who are shy about disrobing before a stranger should not let that reticence deter them. Massage therapists are professionals who observe “draping protocols” to preserve the client’s modesty. This means the body is covered with sheets and blankets at all times. In addition, massage therapists usually have nurturing, non-judgmental personalities, and they have worked with bodies in of all shapes and physical conditions.
Anyone not ready to try a table massage should consider chair massage. Using a specially designed, ergonomic massage chair, the therapist can provide treatment to the neck, shoulders, back and arms while clients remain fully clothed. Another benefit of chair massage is that it generally cost less than a table massage.
Benefits of Massage
A professional massage stimulates circulation and reduces muscle tension, aches and pains, and encourages positive emotions. Studies by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center show massage increases immunity and reduces stress hormone levels in your bloodstream.
As more and more people are discovering, massage therapy is an effective treatment for many medical conditions including cancer, osteoporosis, depression and circulatory disorders.
One of the main reasons massage is so effective is because by working the body with various touch techniques, the massage therapist moves lymph fluid through the body.
The lymphatic system is a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that make and move lymph from tissues to the bloodstream. The lymph system is a major part of the body’s immune system, and some times is referred to as the body’s “sewer system because Lymph nodes make immune cells that help the body fight infection, filter the lymph fluid, and remove foreign material such as bacteria and cancer cells.
Blood is easily moved through the body because it has the heart to act as a pump. The lymphatic system, however, has no such pump to move lymph fluids through the body. Therefore, bodily movement such as massage, gentle yoga classes or walking, is crucial to keep these fluids moving.
Common Types of massage
There are several types of massage, but the most common types are listed below:
- Swedish: The most common massage, this modality involves a series of stokes and light pressure that releases tension and stimulates relaxation and stress relief. If you’re new to massage, this is the one to try first.
- Deep Tissue: This type uses slower strokes and stronger pressure across the grain of the muscle. It’s used to treat chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain or postural problems. You might feel sore for a few days after this type of massage.
- Therapeutic: A combination of Swedish and deep tissue used when only certain problems areas need the deeper massage.
- Hot Stone: Smooth, heated basalt stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them.
- Reflexology: This is more than simple foot or hand massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot or hand that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who work with their hands or stand on their feet all day.
- Sports: Favored by athletic people, this modality focuses on preventing or treating injury, or enhancing athletic performance. It can be performed before or after a competitive sporting event like a marathon or game, or used as a post recovery technique by people who are active and work out often.
- Prenatal: This massage involves special positioning and support of the mom-to-be, to accommodate her growing belly. The massage therapist will also modify techniques and avoid certain areas of the body. Pregnancy massage reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It also alleviates swelling, relieves aches and pains that are common during pregnancy.
About the author: Michelle Owens, is a Yoga Alliance-registered yoga teacher and owner of Yoga East studio (www.yogaeastorlando.com) in downtown Avalon Park. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.