The A-Z Guide to Massage Therapy

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Massage Therapy guide
Massage Therapy: The Ultimate Guide

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Health and wellness goes well beyond getting plenty of sleep, drinking water, and eating a healthy diet.

There are many additional, holistic therapies which can work to help the body function in a more effective way, whilst also making you feel better as a result.

Massage is one of those therapies, and it is one which has been around for centuries.

A massage is a relaxing experience, a time to totally chill out and allow the practitioner to work out all the knots and tension in your body, and leave you feel liking you’re floating on a fluffy, weightless cloud.

Relaxation aside, massage actually has a whole host of other health benefits too.

So, if you’re on the fence about whether massage can help you, let’s get a little more in-depth and learn more about this ancient therapy.

What is Massage?

Massage encompasses a range of techniques and pressures which are applied to the body by a qualified practitioner.

When done correctly, massage works to eradicate tension, iron out knots and ‘bunched’ muscles, and also relax the mind.

The manipulation of the body encompasses the connective tissues, muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons, and can be particularly useful in anyone who suffers from aches and pains, or those who have physically demanding jobs.

Benefits of Massage

Now we know what massage is, we need to explore what you can gain by having regular sessions.

Massages are becoming more common as a regular treatment option for certain medical conditions, as well as for those who regularly experience chronic pain, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Of course, there is the luxury side of it, but there is a very real case for massage being a medical treatment too.

The main benefits of massage include:

  • Studies suggest it can help to relieve stress and improve quality of life
  • Can help with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Eases tension in the muscles, and can therefore reduce the chances of tension headaches
  • Can help with anxiety disorders
  • Massage can help to relieve the symptoms of common digestive disorders, by relaxing the body and the muscles surrounding the stomach, oesophagus, and intestines
  • Shown to help with frequency of headaches, especially those who suffer from migraines on a regular basis
  • Helps improve skin elasticity, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite and help prevent stretch marks.
  • Massage can help improve quality of sleep, and can therefore help anyone who from insomnia
  • Can help to relieve the pain and swelling associated with a soft tissue strain or other similar injury, including sports injuries. This can help to speed up the healing process
  • As well as helping with various different types of arthritis-type joint pain, massage has been shown to help in relieving the comfort of temporomandibular joint pain

Of course, there are some warnings and contraindications that we need to mention in relation to massage. If you have any aches and pains that are persistent, then you should obviously get this checked out with your doctor, before deciding that a massage is all you need.

In addition to this, if you have or suffer from any of the following, massage may not be the right option for you:

  • If you are taking medications which thin the blood, such as Warfarin, and if you have a bleeding disorder
  • If you have an open wound or a burn
  • If you suffer from deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • If you have a broken bone/fracture
  • If you have osteoporosis which is quite severe
  • If you have thrombocytopenia

Types of Massage Therapy

There are many different types of massage within the spectrum, and with each type there are subcategories of pressure, e.g. some may like deep pressure during a massage, whilst others may prefer a lighter touch, for a relaxing feel.

The main types of massage include;

  • Swedish massage
  • Deep massage
  • Sports massage
  • Trigger point massage
  • Indian head massage

Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is one of the most famous, and is quite suitable for most people.

This is a gentle type of massage, and is firstly used for relaxation, and secondly to energise and bring about a sense of wellbeing.

During a Swedish massage, long strokes are used, as well as circular motions, and kneading movements.

Tapping and vibrations are also used to stimulate the blood flow and energise once the massage is over.

Deep Tissue Massage

A deep massage is a more vigorous type of massage, and one which uses more pressure and firmer strokes to get to the root of any muscle pain or discomfort.

The strokes in a deep massage are slower and pressure is much harder.

This is to ensure that the deeper layers of the muscle are stimulated and manipulated, as well as the deep connective tissues.

These types of massage are commonly used for those who have experienced an injury to a muscle.

Sport Massage

A sports massage is really what it says on the tin, and it is aimed towards those who regularly play a particular type of sports.

This can be to aid healing of an injury, but regular sports massages have been shown to increase mobility and strengthen the muscles, to prevent injury from occurring in the first place.

The process is very much like a Swedish massage, but focuses mainly on the part of the body that is used the most in that particular sport.

Trigger Point Massage

A trigger point massage is very similar to a sports massage, because it works to release and relax the tight fibres of the muscles which can become injured or strained from regular use or after an injury.

Again, deep pressure and long strokes are used to focus on that particular area.

Indian Head Massage

Finally, we have an Indian head massage.

Many people consider this to be a truly holistic type of therapy because it uses the chakras in the body, in conjunction with massage movements that are mainly focused on the face, head, neck, and shoulder area.

And there you have it, your ultimate guide to massage.

There are many benefits on offer to those who have regular massage therapy, and it may just be the difference between pain and relaxation for you.

The A-Z Guide to Massage Therapy
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