There’s nothing more soothing than a relaxing massage to ease any aches and pains and leave you feeling blissful and content. But when it comes to going for a massage, there are many types to choose from which involve different methods and benefits.
Before we jump up on the massage table, let’s take a look at what massage it is. Evidence of massage has been found in many ancient civilizations, with the word muššu’u (“massage”) used in 2000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia. In the UK, massage therapy caught on much later in history, with the service of “physiological shampooing” advertised in The Times from in 1880 as a cure for obesity and other chronic ailments.
Put simply, massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues for the treatment of pain or stress.
What are the benefits of massage?
There are a multitude of benefits associated with massage. These include increasing relaxation and reducing stress, alleviating pain and muscular tension and soreness, and improving alertness, circulation and energy. Massage can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improving immune function. Some people feel the benefits immediately as they begin to unwind as soon as they lie down on the massage table. And of course, massage can also be a great way to have some blissful time to yourself to be pampered (unless you’ve opted for a vigorous sports massage!).
Different types of massage and their benefits
A relaxing aromatherapy massage combines the benefits of therapeutic massage with essential oils and is the ideal way to improve your emotional and physical wellbeing.
The essential oils are specifically chosen to complement the individual needs of a patient and are absorbed through the skin. This gentle and soothing massage allows you to relax and unwind.
Aromatherapy massage can help alleviate:
Remedial massage provides a remedy for musculoskeletal issues such as discomfort, impaired function, lack of mobility, pain, reduced strength, stiffness or tension. A remedial massage therapist will trace the original reason for the pain in order to tackle both the cause and the symptoms.
Slow, firm pressure is applied to the layers of soft tissue using a number of different techniques to locate and repair areas of the body that are damaged such as connective tissues, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Creams or oils are often used to ensure skin is massaged smoothly.
Remedial massage can help alleviate:
- Anxiety or depression
- Back, neck or shoulder pain
- Chronic pain
- Sports or other injuries
Sports performance massage
Sports Performance massage aims to counteract the demands and effects of physical activity and sports. Treatment is tailored to your specific needs and your therapist will target specific muscles and structural patterns to encourage the body to heal itself and to alleviate any conditions.
Athletes often include sports massage into their training programmes to improve body maintenance, prevent injury and improve performance by keeping tissue healthy.
Sports performance massage can:
- Aid recovery from injury
- Break down adhesions and scar tissue
- Encourage better sleep patterns
- Encourage relaxation and reduce stress
- Improve muscle balance to protect against injury
- Improve sporting performance and posture
- Increase lymphatic flow
- Increase muscle blood flow
- Prepare you psychologically for a race or event
- Relieve muscular pain
Thai yoga massage
Thai yoga massage combines body-weighted acupressure with yoga stretches without the need of a massage table. The origins of this style are based in Ayurveda and it promotes uniting the body through unblocking energy pathways.
This dynamic, all-encompassing technique is a floor-based therapy where the recipient, who is wearing loose-fitting clothing, can either be seated or lying down on a futon mat while receiving the massage. Thai yoga massage unites the body to address musculoskeletal issues as a whole, rather than concentrating on just one section of it separately with the belief that addressing problems as one unit is more beneficial, as humans move by using many different functional parts.
Thai yoga massage can:
- Encourage relaxation and relieve stress
- Improve range of motion
- Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
- Increase flexibility
- Reduce headaches and increase energy levels
- Relieve muscle tension pain
The word ‘holistic’ is a derivative of the Ancient Greek word ‘holos’, meaning ‘whole’. Holistic massage treats a person as a whole – their body, mind and spirit.
Calming and soothing, holistic massage aims to increase the flow of nutrients, eliminate waste products and bring more white blood cells into the circulatory system to improve blood circulation and help fight infection. Holistic massage also reduces levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, and enhances a sense of wellbeing.
During a holistic massage, different manipulative techniques are used to move the body’s muscles and soft tissue. This type of massage is not routine led and is adapted to the client’s needs.
Holistic massage can:
- Alleviate muscular tension and stiffness
- Boost the immune system
- Encourage better circulation
- Increase energy levels
- Increase mobility and flexibility
- Improve skin elasticity
- Promote general relaxation
- Reduce stress and anxiety
Oncology massage works with people undergoing cancer treatment to promote better wellbeing and help support their immune system. This type of massage aims to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments and to alleviate symptoms of the disease. A thorough consultation is carried out to ensure that the massage works with your needs and does not conflict with your treatment plan, and adaptations are made to prevent any harm to your body.
Oncology massage can help to:
- Improve sleep
- Reduce headaches
- Increase ability to tolerate the side effects of cancer treatment
- Reduce chronic pain from the cancer itself and/or cancer treatment
- Reduce nausea from chemotherapy
- Reduce peripheral neuropathy (numbness) from chemotherapy
- Reduce the amount of time spent in hospital stays
- Lower stress and anxiety
What is the best time to get a massage?
The ideal time to have a massage is when you will have some time after your treatment to rest and relax, such as the last thing in the day or at the weekend. If you’re planning to exercise, do this before your massage, as your muscles will have just had a workout.
How often should I get a massage?
Many people leave it until they have aches and pains to have a massage, but incorporating them into your routine more often can help prevent problems before they happen, and keep muscles relaxed for longer.
A massage every 3-4 weeks is usually a good guideline. If your musculoskeletal system isn’t in great shape, you may be advised to have a weekly treatment.
If you’ve had a sports massage, you will need to leave at least two days between massages to let your muscles recover.
If you have any health concerns or conditions, please talk to your doctor before getting any type of massage and let your therapist know so they can advise on which massage is best for you. If you are pregnant, it’s also best to seek medical advice and request a treatment suitable for expectant mothers.
Massage after care
Once your massage is finished, that isn’t the end of the process. By following our simple tips, you’ll get maximum results from your treatment and feel better for longer. Your therapist will also advise you on post-massage care and will be happy to answer any questions or concerns before, during and after your massage.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water can help if your muscles are feeling sore after a massage.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, meaning that when you drink them you lose more fluid than you gain. Drinking diuretics can bring out the effects of the massage more (i.e body tiredness and muscle soreness).
Eat a light snack
A light snack after a massage can combat any tiredness or a lightheaded feeling with a welcome energy boost. Try not to eat too much before a massage as lying on a massage table with a full stomach can be very uncomfortable!
Keep the wonderful post-massage glow going by staying relaxed – meditate, put on peaceful music, read a book or nap. A good tip is to book your massage when you can go straight home afterwards, not back to work to undo all the de-stressing!
Avoid intense exercise
Your muscles have just had a workout and need time to cover, so leave any strenuous exercise sessions until at least the next day (but if you are aching, it might be better to leave it for longer).
Take a bath
A lovely warm bath after a massage carries on the feeling of relaxation and can help to ease any aches and pains, but don’t go too hot with the temperature to avoid increasing inflammation.
How can Chiropractic Care Clinics help?
We have been helping clients feel better for more than 30 years, and offer massage therapy to suit your needs from our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne and Beaminster. Our massage therapists Lisa, Kate and Mel have extensive experience in treating clients and provide a range of tailored massage treatments.
For more advice on massages and the services we offer, feel free to contact us. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.