If you have never been on a massage table before or you do not remember the last time you were, it’s time to make yourself an appointment for ultimate rejuvenation. Behnaz Sanjana rolls out the fundamentals for you.
In this day and age, a spa day is considered a mini getaway and there are women who swear by regular massage sessions. Yet, there are the skeptics who fail to understand the hype. Well, studies have shown that getting a regular massage is not all hedonism. Besides letting you unwind and indulge, a massage can do much more for your body. It relaxes the muscles and eases away pockets of pain. Along with calming the nervous system and promoting healthy sleep (surely many of us have dozed off on the massage table), a massage can also boost immunity by increasing the number of white blood cells. Regular massage has been shown to curb tension headaches and migraines, as well as PMS. A little technique applied in the correct places can also brighten up lacklustre complexion and hair. There is also evidence that massage can relieve pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea and depression in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
When it comes to which type of massage to choose from, pick the one that sounds best suited to you.
Swedish Massage – This is the most common full-body massage and is a great choice for someone who is new to the massage bandwagon. Oil is used to facilitate smooth, gliding strokes all over the body that relax the joints and muscles.
Deep Tissue Massage – The therapist will work on the same lines as Swedish massage but will target the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and connective tissue. The pressure will be intense to release muscle tension or knots.
Aromatherapy Massage – When the massage oil is blended with essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, etc. it helps to alleviate pain and lift your mood.
Hot Stone Massage – Smooth-surfaced stones are heated in water and then placed over the body. The heat from the stones warms up the muscles and is very relaxing. This technique however, requires a lot of skill.
Sports Massage – This was developed for athletes to quickly rid themselves of physical stress. Athletes take it before, during and after a competition. It is also good for anyone with chronic pain, injury or movement issues.
Thai Massage – A traditional Thai massage is unique in that it uses passive stretching and pressure along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility and effectively gives relief from muscle or joint tension. A Thai massage takes place fully clothed on a cotton mat on the floor. The therapist uses his or her own body to administer the massage.
Shiatsu – This technique was developed in Japan and uses intense finger pressure to restore the healthy flow of energy through the body. Like its Thai counterpart, it takes place fully clothed on a cotton mat on the floor and does not need any oil to be applied to the body.
Pre- and Postnatal Massage – A prenatal massage helps to reduce swelling in the arms and legs and relieve aches and pains in muscles and joints, as well as anxiety and stress, especially in the last two trimesters. Only an experienced masseuse who is an expert at this type of massage should be trusted.
In some cultures, a daily massage is a way to soothe a new mother and enable her to deal with the baby blues. The masseuse typically starts at the feet, making her way up the body, ending with a calming head massage. Postnatal massages help to relax sore backs, get rid of toxins and improve wellbeing and immunity by stimulating the lymph flow. They are also said to accelerate recovery from a C-section, but should be taken only after the wound has healed.
Whatever the type of massage you choose, talk to your therapist beforehand to discuss your problem areas. She should be happy to concentrate on tired feet, tense shoulders or a stiff neck. Do communicate the intensity of pressure you prefer. In any case, a massage should never feel painful. Pain means the pressure is too intense. If it uncomfortable, let the therapist know. What a massage feels like depends entirely on the skill of the therapist. Try different therapists till you find one you like and get regular massages to reap the full benefits of this ancient wellness technique.