Massage can be extremely relaxing and beneficial for all people, especially those who need healing. Massage improves blood circulation, decreases healing time for injuries to soft tissue, improves elasticity of muscles and helps eliminate metabolic wastes. The following techniques will help you give a healing massage that will ensure relaxation and recovery to the recipient. There are four main stages of healing through massage: relief, correction, strengthening, and maintenance.
Relief The first few sessions of massage therapy will be aimed to relieve pain, reduce muscle tension and relax stressed nerves. The relief sessions are aimed at the symptoms of the problem.
When the pain is gone, the therapist will work on the problem that caused the pain. Techniques will be aimed at stimulating your lymphatic system and freeing knotted and scarred muscle fibers.
Strengthening is important in a badly damaged area. Weakness at the injury site can mean recurring problems. Techniques will be aimed at strengthening the tissues near the injury enabling them to provide adequate support when the injury is healed.
Maintenance is the final stage in healing and the first step in preventing other injuries. Maintenance techniques are aimed at treating the problem and preventing the occurrence of new problems.
Massage therapists have been known to provide stress and pain relief to people who frequent them. It is quite a puzzle as to how to get massages regularly since they tend to be somewhat expensive. Ferreting out the inexpensive places and even massage schools can provide affordable options if massage is to be incorporated into a shoe-string budget.
Healing Benefits of Massage
Americans are more stressed than ever and are turning to massage to buffer some of the health issues they are facing. Massage is said to be a “stress killer” and can alleviate many aches and pains and even rejuvenate skin and improve muscle tone. Things such as posture and negative holding patterns can be improved with regular massage therapy sessions. People do not have to be in serious pain to get massage. It is a tool for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and feeling good.
Affordable Options for Massage
There are many available options for massage therapy. Some are much more affordable than others. There are spas, health resorts, and student clinics or schools. The choice made will depend on one’s income and willingness to spend on a massage session. Then, there are different types of massages (Swedish, Hot Stone, Aromatherapy) that can be considered and these also vary greatly in price. If it’s a tight budget that one is faced with, a more affordable option might be to go to a school, which offers massages at almost half the price that a spa or private practice would. Plus, the client making the appointment with a school has the option of whether or not to tip; it is not required.
Long and Short-Term Results of Massage
Getting frequent massages (one massage per month) can greatly impact long term health. It has been said that the body becomes more in tune or aware of stressors and a person becomes more sensitive to what is going on in their body. When a person is more aware of their potential stressors, they can combat any health problem they may have before they become too unmanageable, all the while feeling happier and healthier. This would be the long-term effect of frequent massage, which can be considered “preventative” health care.
Prepare a comfortable area for massage. A massage table is not necessary, but the surface should be firm, comfortable and supportive. Make sure you have enough room to move all around the body.
Create a peaceful environment. Turn down the lights a bit (make sure you can still see what you’re doing), put on some peaceful music and turn off or remove any distractions like the television, cell phones, computer and other people.
Have the massage recipient remove her clothing. This makes it easier for you to adequately massage the skin. If the recipient is uncomfortable, have her leave on her undergarments and work around them.
Have the massage recipient lay down on their stomach. Cover his body with a large towel or soft blanket so that he doesn’t get cold. Only uncover the part of the body that you’re working on. Cold muscles are hard to massage, so keep him warm and secure feeling (this fosters relaxation).
Get the massage oil. You can use many types of oil, but massage oils tend to be the easiest to work with and smell the best. Make sure that the massage recipient is okay with the scent that you chose. Apply a SMALL amount of massage oil in your hands and rub them together to warm the oil and your hands. Cold oil and hands are not very relaxing!
Start at the back. Lower the towel to uncover the recipient’s back, neck and shoulders.
Apply gentle pressure with the heel of the hand on both sides of the spine. Never apply pressure directly to the spine. Starting from the bottom of the back, work your way up to the shoulders with the heel of your hand and back down along the side of the the rib cage using your fingers. You’re basically moving in an oval shape with this movement. You can also alternate with circling movements of the hands. Do whatever movements are comfortable for you and the recipient.
Repeat this cycle several times, each time applying more gentle pressure. Ask for feedback from the recipient on how it feels and adjust your pressure accordingly–some people like a soft massage, some like a deeper tissue massage.
Knead the muscles slowly with the hands to get a deeper tissue massage. You will know when you’re hitting an especially effective spot because the recipient will most likely groan with pleasure. You’ll feel “knots” in the muscles, so spend time massaging them out.
Stretch those knotted muscles once more once you’ve done the deep tissue massage. Using your fingers, rake your fingers over the muscles, applying gentle pressure. Do it for as long as you’d like.
Take a moment or two to gently run your fingers over the area. Trace whatever shapes you’d like with your fingers–this is basically a way to signal that the massage on that area is complete.
Cover up the recipient’s back with the towel or blanket and uncover one leg or arm at a time while you massage. Repeat all the techniques above, adapting them to each particular body part. You can feel the muscles even better in the extremities, so follow the muscles and give them a good release.
Tips & Warnings