Today I’m feeling very lethargic and sluggish and could kill for a head to toe body massage. Because I work different shift patterns, from week to week, I always feel like I’m not getting adequate or even good quality sleep. This is especially difficult when I‘m on the morning shift, which runs from 3.30am-10am. I usually catch up on a little bit of sleep when I get in from work around 11.30am, and then make sure I’m in bed for around 9.30pm. But it’s just never enough to leave me feeling refreshed and alert. That’s why I wish I could afford to go for a nice, long massage. Each time I’ve been to a spa for a head to toe massage, whatever my complaints at the time, I always seem to walk away rejuvenated, fresher and re-energised!
Massage: An Overview
The practice of massage is said to go back thousands of years. Massage is described as the systematic manipulation of muscles in order to ‘normalise’ them. Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil. They mainly use their hands, but may also use their forearms, elbows or feet. A general body massage can last anything between 30-90 minutes.
There are many different types of massage, with the following being among the most popular across the world.
Examples of Popular Body Massage Techniques
The therapist massages essential oils into the skin to enhance the healing and relaxing effects of massage. Essential oils are believed to have a powerful effect on your mood.
The therapist uses light, rhythmic strokes to improve the flow of lymph, which helps fight infection and disease throughout the body.
Reflexology This is a specialised form of massage, which uses thumb and finger techniques applied to the hands and feet. Reflexologists believe that these areas contain “reflex points” or direct connections to specific organs and structure throughout the body.
Shiatsu Gentle finger and hand pressure applied to specific points on the body to relieve pain and enhance the flow of energy through the body’s energy pathways.
Sports massage Often used on professional athletes and other active individuals, sports massage is believed to have the ability to enhance performance. It’s also believed to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. Tired or sore muscles are made to relax and soften through massage.
Swedish massage A variety of strokes and pressure techniques are used to enhance the flow of blood to the heart, remove waste products from the tissues, stretch ligaments and tendons, and ease physical and emotional tension.
Benefits of Body Massage
Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Massage has been shown to reduce stress levels in most people. It may also help manage or reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Massage offers other benefits including better quality sleep, increased energy, better concentration and less fatigue.
A full body massage can relieve pain and stiffness, as it relaxes the muscles. Full body massage may release endorphins, which not only act as pain relief, but also goes a long way to lifting your spirits and mood. Massage can sometimes help relieve migraine pain. A massage may help an athlete’s sore muscles after an aggressive workout or benefit a sports injury.
Massage can increase circulation by assisting oxygen and nutrients to reach tissues and organs, feeding them and giving them a new lease of life. Subsequently, massage may also help control blood pressure.
Immune System Function
A full body massage may boost your immune system’s functionality. It stimulates the lymphatic system and gets rid of toxins, which assists the immune system in protecting the body.
A full body massage helps buff away dead skin cells over the whole body, which leads to improved skin tone and suppleness. The improved blood flow benefits the appearance and health of the skin, making the ‘orange peel effect’ or cellulite appear smoother. Massage can also help tissue regeneration, which could help reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. The massage oils sometimes used during the massage also moisturize skin and offer other benefits to the skin.
- *NB Always consult with your doctor before embarking on complementary therapy such as massage, especially if you have any serious conditions.
Do you enjoy massage? Do you have a favourite type of massage?