The warmth of touch, the meticulous pressure applied to sore muscles as they are manipulated into a relaxed state, and the dark, comfortable atmosphere are all delightful aspects of body massage therapy. Whether you’re sitting at the office for hours on end or running around work’s campus, your body’s muscles are working as hard as you.
Massage therapy has risen in popularity over the years as stress reduction and additional tangible health benefits have become more widely appreciated. What was once considered a self-care “treat,” is now hailed as an essential tool for optimal health and wellness.
What is a Massage?
A massage is a gentle pressing, rubbing, or manipulation of your skin, muscles, and even ligaments. The origin of massage can be traced back to the 1900s. There are many different types of massages available to fit your individual needs. Some of the more common types of massage include:
- Swedish Massage – This type of massage is perfect for first-time massage recipients. Swedish massages apply gentle pressure throughout the muscles of the body. A Swedish body massage is ideal for individuals who are new to massage, sensitive to touch, or have muscle knots and tension. Your massage therapist will gently rub and knead tense areas to promote muscle release.
- Deep Tissue Massage – This type of massage is like a next-level Swedish massage. Your massage therapist will apply firm pressure to specific areas of your body, penetrating into the deeper layers of your muscle. Deep tissue massage is great for individuals with chronic pain or anxiety.
- Hot Stone Massage – A hot stone massage is exactly what it sounds like. For this type of massage, your therapist will apply heated stones to the skin and manipulate the muscles by gently gliding the hot stones across your body. If you are in need of deep relaxation, this massage is for you. The stones are usually made of basalt, a type of smooth volcanic stone that retains heat.
- Prenatal Massage – If you’re expecting, a prenatal massage can be the perfect treatment for a whole host of pregnancy discomforts. Your massage therapist will use a mild pressure akin to Swedish massage. Most therapists will focus on your lower back, hips, legs, and feet. Prenatal massages are done on a table that has a special cutout for your belly so you can lay comfortably on your stomach.
- Shiatsu Massage – Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, Shiatsu massage uses finger strokes to apply gentle pressure to the body’s meridians. These are parts of the body that are thought to be connected. If blocked, you may feel pain or discomfort. Shiatsu massage helps restore the flow of chi energy.
- Trigger Point Massage – Your massage therapist will help identify the trigger points in your body that could benefit from massage. Using gentle strokes combined with firm pressure over the trigger points, the muscle manipulation encourages release and relaxation. If you have injuries or chronic pain, this type of massage is highly beneficial.
- Aromatherapy Massage – This type of body massage is very similar to Swedish massage, but it also combines the use of therapeutic essential oils with specific scents to enhance your experience. Scents such as lavender are calming, but scents like peppermint are invigorating and energizing. Your massage therapist will take essential oils and add them to a base oil before massaging gently into your skin.
- Reflexology – Also known as zone therapy, reflexology applies pressure to the hands and feet to produce benefits throughout other parts of the body. Areas of the foot correspond with different organs throughout the body, therefore by stimulating the muscles in the foot, other parts of your body will benefit. Sometimes pressure is also applied to the ears in addition to the hands and feet.
- Chair Massage – Most massages require you to lay down on a massage table. A chair massage allows you to sit on a specially designed massage chair that is ergonomic. The positioning allows the massage therapist to access most points of the body such as your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hips. This is ideal for those who do not wish to lay down on a table.
Benefits to Massage Therapy
There are so many different benefits of massage therapy. This natural, soothing, practice can not only improve pain and encourage relaxation, but it can also promote many advantages throughout the body as well.
- Reduces stress – The number one benefit of massage therapy is stress reduction. When we’re stressed, we carry that tension in our muscles. Have you ever noticed your neck or shoulders tense up when you’re under significant stress? Body massage therapy targets areas of stress to release contracted muscles.
- Reduces pain – It is no secret that massage therapy is a great solution for chronic pain. Since treatment can be as targeted as you like, results are almost always a sure bet.
- Improves circulation – Massage therapy greatly improves circulation throughout the body. When blood flows freely, our skin appears healthier, and we feel less fatigued.
- Improves sleep – The combination of stress reduction and improved circulation promotes healthy and restful sleep. Benefits can last long after your massage is complete.
- Improves flexibility – Since massage therapy not only manipulates muscles but ligaments as well, you may see improved flexibility in your joints.
- Enhances skin health – Beyond the improved circulation benefits, massage therapy can help your skin shed dead skin cells in a calming and effective manner. This leaves your skin glowing and appearing more youthful and radiant.
- Improves breathing – As you experience your massage, your therapist may ask you to take deep breaths to relax or while he or she applies pressure to a particular trigger point. Throughout your massage, your breathing will noticeably improve as you relax and breathe deeper and easier.
- Eliminates toxins – Body massage therapy is an excellent way to flush out toxins from your lymphatic system. At the conclusion of your massage, you’ll be encouraged to drink a glass of water and continue drinking water for a few hours after treatment. This will help your body naturally flush toxins that become unhinged or unlocked during muscle manipulation.
- Aids digestive health – During your massage, your body will produce more saliva and digestive juices that aid in natural digestion. Also, some organs such as the intestines receive gentle pressure from targeted therapies which can help aid digestion.
- Boosts the immune system – Massage therapy can actually increase your white blood cell count. This is important for protecting your body against illness and disease.
- Helps with depression and anxiety – Gentle, safe, touch can release feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, the stress reduction properties of massage can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Cancer patients – For patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment or cancer recovery, massage therapy is hailed as a highly beneficial alternative method of pain management and to treat many of the side effects of cancer treatments. Plus, massage can improve immune response, helping your body get stronger and fight cancer cells even harder.
How to Prepare for your Massage Therapy Appointment
If you’re sold on the benefits and can’t wait to hop on the table (or chair), then read on so you’ll know exactly what to do to ensure you have a seamless experience.
There are a few things you should do to prepare for your massage therapy appointment:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages a few hours prior to your appointment. This way you can reap the toxin-flushing benefits of the massage therapy session.
- Eat lightly. You don’t want to begin your massage therapy appointment on an empty stomach where you could get hungry, but you probably don’t want to eat a large meal before either. Laying down after eating can sometimes trigger heartburn and digestive discomfort.
- Take a shower. If you’re receiving a massage involving the table, you will be encouraged to strip down to your level of comfort. Many clients prefer to receive their massage while nude or just in their underwear. It is always a nice gesture to shower prior to your appointment.
- Dress comfortably. For chair massage, you’ll want to dress in loose-fitting clothes. For other massages, dress comfortably. Therefore, when your massage session is completed, you can still feel relaxed in comfortable clothes before going about your day.
- Arrive 15 minutes early. Many massage therapists require you to fill an intake form and/or a waiver before receiving treatment. Massage therapists like to discuss your prior massage history, any injuries you may have, as well as treatment goals to provide you with the best experience.
- Communicate your needs. Throughout the massage, speak up when necessary. If you’d prefer a firmer presser, be sure to ask for it. If the massage hurts or is causing discomfort, let your massage therapist know so they can recalibrate their technique. Massage should feel wonderful. Some localized tenderness is normal, but sharp pain is not.
- Relax and breathe normally. Once you begin treatment, take a few deep breaths to let yourself relax. Lose yourself in the sensations of touch, the smell of the massage oil, and even the soundscape if your massage therapist provides one.
Massages are only one way of giving yourself the gift of self-care. At First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic, we offer a wide variety of ways that you can take your well-being to the next level. Look and feel your very best by booking one of our relaxing skin treatments today. Pamper yourself! You’re worth it!