Why do we need massage? A powerful tool for your health and well-being
As people look more and more toward natural healing, massage therapies are high on the list of remedies. Partly because a massage is generally extremely relaxing and feels great but also a wealth of health benefits present themselves; bonus!
Often people opt for a massage as a relaxation therapy, laying down for an hour and having a trained professional pamper you with delightful smelling oils and creams is bliss. However, physical ailments such as back problems and muscle tension are commonly worked on by specialist massage therapists to relieve symptoms and work towards repairing damaged muscle and tissue. As well as this emotional, spiritual and general well-being can be affected greatly by different massage techniques.
How we can benefit from regular massage
When you bump into something or fall down what is our instinctual reaction to the location of any pain? We rub it! Back and neck pains, muscle pains, headaches can all be relived by massage treatments. To rub the affected area (in a specified manner) increases the blood flow, and therefore circulation, easing the problem.
Stress is a natural human occurrence, we need it in order to survive – it makes us react to threatening situations by way of adrenaline boosting your heart rate and the cortisol boosting your blood sugar, while diverting energy away from your digestive system and immune responses. However when this happens daily, consistently from external forces in our lives, such as work, we begin to suffer as it evolves from stress into distress. Research shows that during a massage your heart rate and blood pressure lower, your muscles relax and endorphins are produced which makes us feel naturally good. Serotonin and dopamine are also released which result in a feeling of calm. This is also true for anxiety and depression for the same reasons.
So many people suffer with sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep patterns. Generally, sleep issues are caused by stress, hormonal imbalances or aches and pains. Massage therapy is a natural, medication-free treatment which helps relieve all of the above and so is conducive to a better night’s sleep. When you are deprived of deep sleep, certain kinds of pain chemicals are released – these are reduced and altered by the release of serotonin and dopamine during massage. Meditation is also a fantastic tool in conjunction with regular massage to promote healthy sleep patterns.
Your white blood cell count can be given a mega boost during massage encouraging a stronger immune system in order to fight off disease. A massage will also reduce cytokines which cause inflammation, high levels of these can be associated with conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Scheduling a regular massage can reduce the damage done by persistent (but necessary) sitting! You don’t have to give up your day job so long as you maintain treatment to counteract sitting at a desk or at a computer for many hours every day. Generally the main pain centres are the neck and shoulders which can easily be relived by an Indian Head Massage for example. Many businesses are promoting 20-40 minute in-office seated massages such as these to improve their employee’s well-being, and therefore efficiency.
Emotional and Spiritual Balance
Many types of massage are designed to reduce stress and anxiety and thus promote a sense of emotional balance and harmony. Our personal health is paramount in encouraging a balanced and strong individual capable of dealing with all that life brings.
There are so many different types of massage these days it is hard to know which to choose, first you must outline your needs and requirements; what you wish to gain from the massage, and then select the type that suits you best.
Always choose a highly skilled professional in their field with plenty of experience.
Most beneficial and popular massage therapies
Also known as a classic massage entails deep stroking and gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping and pounding motions in the direction of the blood moving back towards the heart. Good for relieving muscle strains by flushing out toxins, improving circulation by increasing the oxygen flow in the blood and helps to keep ligaments and tendons supple, plus reduces both emotional and physical stress.
Deep Tissue Massage
This massage therapy involves applying firm pressure and strokes to reach deep into the layers of muscle and connecting tissue (fascia). People suffering with chronic aches and pain such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders often opt for this type of treatment. It also helps to improve mobility and posture, reduces muscle tension, painful osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and Repetitive Strain Injury or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Indian Head Massage
An adaptation of an ancient Indian ritual of massaging female hair to include the neck, shoulders and face within the therapeutic massage. It also employs modern knowledge of shiatsu and acupressure to relax tense areas, rebalance the energy and clear any areas of concentrated negativity. This treatment can be done anywhere, seated, with or without oils, and helps to relieve stress and anxiety, improve memory and clear thinking, reduce migraines, headaches, insomnia, vertigo, tinnitus, and depression. It can also help with posture, eyesight, concentration, sinus relief, hair growth and quality, and reduce hair loss. During a head massage oxygen and glucose supplies to the brain are enhanced, the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid is improved, and toxins in the head are dissipated.
Generally known as Thai massage, or Nuat Boran in Thai, this whole-body holistic treatment combines massage, yoga and energy work all in one. The patient lays on a mat and is treated in four different positions; supine (lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up), lying on your side, prone (lying horizontally with the face and torso facing down) and sitting and has their joints moved using several techniques combined with passive stretching, working along the body’s meridian lines. The treatment varies in intensity from vigorous to gentle depending on the client’s needs. The effect is designed to provide improved flexibility and energy flow, along with achieving a deep feeling of relaxation and well being. It can also relieve muscle tension, stiffness and mild rheumatoid arthritis. The deep relaxation leaves you feeling more ‘aware’ of your body.
Myofascial Relief Therapy
A treatment utilised to treat Myofascial pain syndrome or tightness and sensitivity in the tissues that surround and support the muscles throughput your body. Common symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome are; deep localised muscle pains which worsen when stretched or strained, muscle pain that does not improve over time, painful knotted muscle that intensifies when pressed, weak, stiff or inflexible muscles with reduced range of motion. The therapist can relieve these symptoms by working on trigger points across a broad section of your muscular system and focussing on the broader network of muscles that might be causing your pain.
This is a psychological, spiritual and emotional as well as physical treatment which supports our ability to heal and balance ourselves. By manipulating and adjusting our body in order to balance our energy flow this deep relaxation technique can help to alleviate stress and illness. Shiatsu utilises pressure points which unblock energy flow within the body, enabling relaxation, reducing pain and encouraging healing. Treatments help to relieve a wide range of chronic conditions, such as headaches, digestive disorders, pre-menstrual stress, fatigue, insomnia, fibromyalgia, stress, anxiety, and musculoskeletal pains, including the lower back, neck, and joints.
This alternative therapy focusses on releasing energy blockages throughout the body which are generally caused by injury or stress. Also known as ‘energy healing’ Reiki removes these blockages in a similar way to acupressure or acupuncture by the therapist gently placing their hands on or hovering above specific regions of the body in order to transfer energy. Developed by a Japanese Buddhist in the early part of the 20th Century Reiki is used to help in treatment for heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, infertility, autism, Chron’s Disease, and fatigue as well as promoting an overall sense of well-being.
This is an holistic practice used to activate our natural ability to heal. During reflexology our body is split up into ten zones which are represented by certain points on the feet. E.g. the brain is connected to a reflex point on your toes. Reflexology foot massages work to relieve tension and blocked energy in order to achieve the harmony and balance our body requires to maintain good health and well-being. Reflexology promotes better sleep and relaxation, relieves headaches, migraines, neck pain, lower and upper backaches, helps to relieve depression, increases blood circulation, and release toxins.
Become a qualified Massage therapist
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer a number of diplomas related to massage: Holistic Massage Therapy, Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Indian Face Massage, Reiki & Shiatsu.
All our courses are accredited around the world and offer a way for students to become qualfied whilst studying at home in your own time.