Massage involves working the soft tissue of the body, to ease day-to-day stresses and muscular tension, and promote relaxation. It helps to increase delivery of blood and oxygen to the treated areas and can also be used in support of other therapies to assist in the rehabilitation of muscular injuries.
There are many different types of massage. Some of these – such as Indian head massage and remedial/sports massage - concentrate on specific areas of the body, or problem areas. Others might use different massage ‘tools’ to enhance the treatment, for example, heated stones, shells, or bamboo. With all massage treatments, the therapist will adapt the pressure and techniques used to suit the client’s individual needs and preferences.
What to expect
Before treatment, your therapist will provide a full consultation, asking you various questions about your health and lifestyle, to ensure treatment is right for you. Most full body massage treatments take approximately an hour, though a ‘back, neck and shoulder’ massage may take between 30 to 40 minutes.
Treatments usually take place on a massage table or coach, though some may require you to sit in a chair or lay down on a futon-type mat on the floor. If the treatment involves the therapist directly massaging your skin, a nourishing oil or cream-based product will generally be used to provide a free-flowing massage, and towels carefully placed to ensure your modesty and keep you warm and comfortable throughout the treatment.
Whatever type of massage you are having, your therapist will advise you of what to expect before the treatment begins.
Benefits of massage
Massage is used by people for a variety of reasons. Some use it to simply relax and unwind, while others have regular massage to help them manage or cope with specific physical, mental or emotional problems. Many aspiring and professional athletes have massage before and after training and competing, in order to stay in optimum condition and aid recovery.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that massage can be effective in helping to treat certain chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and low back pain. In guidelines produced in 2009 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), manual therapies - including massage – are recommended for the early management of persistent, non-specific low back pain.
Massage should not be used in place of conventional medical care. Always consult a GP or other health professional for medical attention and advice.
Choosing a therapist
It is important to choose a qualified massage therapist who has undertaken the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of this particular therapy.