Health and Beauty Articles
Massage your way to better health and happiness
Having worked in the beauty industry for about 3 years now I have noted some misconceptions when it comes to the more hands on treatment that is massage – some aren’t convinced it does anything other than provide relaxation, others – namely the island’s male population – will brush the thought of a healing massage away with a defiant, “o mo chreach, I won’t have any woman’s hands on me unless it’s the wife’s!”
I do however get the occasional phone call from barely audible men, asking about massage and if it will help their sore back, more often than not followed by, “yes, yes, I see... can I phone you back?” and they’re never to be heard from again!
Well ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing to be afraid of and I can vouch that the benefits of massage are endless! It is one of the oldest, simplest forms of therapy and has been used for thousands of years in the medical field – most commonly in India, Sweden and Asia. Historically it has been traced back to Chinese medical manuscripts from around 400BC as well as being documented as a personal stress relief of Julius Caesar from Roman times!
Before launching into the wonders of massage, its different origins and treatments available, I’ll begin by briefing you on how it all works...
To put things simply, massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body – the muscles, tendons and ligaments. You will often hear people talking about ‘knots’ in the back; this is when a muscle is tightly contracted and it goes into a type of spasm – causing the blood supply to be cut off from the muscle, thus causing that uncomfortable throb! Furthermore, knots in the upper back and neck are key factors in headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. Massage targets these trigger points in the back, using kneading and pressure points to help alleviate the spasm; firm pressure directly on the knotted muscle can be uncomfortable but provides considerable relief, also eliminating acids and deposits (toxins) from the muscle.
Different types of massage
Swedish massage is the most classic, well known form of massage. Although some will claim Swedish massage was not derived from Sweden this is highly inaccurate – it is traditionally credited to Pehr Henrik Ling, a Swedish native who was described as a “medical-gymnastic practitioner” (gymnastic formally meaning a disciplined activity to improve overall health and physical performance.)
This massage uses 5 types of manipulation – effleurage; petrissage; friction; tapotement and vibration. I usually recommend this massage for anyone with discomfort in any areas of the body; for anyone requiring stress relief or simply for relaxation. This massage covers all sorts of ailments and hosts many psychological improvements, including: stress; tension; headaches; relaxation; improvements in flexibility, circulation and posture; lowers blood pressure; relaxes muscles; improves breathing and fluid that has built up in the lungs; strengthens the immune system and can in some cases help people with depression.
Indian massage, or also known as Ayurvedic massage is a traditionally detoxifying massage which also focuses on the understanding of the primordial energies of the Five elements – Fire, Water, Air, Ether and Earth – and of the three basic types of energies that are present in everyone and everything – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The therapist will not only determine what type of technique to use to stabilize the bodies energies, but will customise treatments by selecting the appropriate oils or herbs to create inner harmony. After I’ve confused you considerably on this type of massage I’ll summarise by saying that Ayurvedic massage and its principles focuses on you living a healthier happier life.
Hot stone massage has been widely received over the globe, coming to light in the last decade as a fantastic heat treatment in the salon and spa. This massage’s origin can be traced back 5000 years to India, again with the ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda. This therapy was used by healers who used rocks from the riverbed and warmed them in hot water or hot coals before using them to treat any feeling of discomfort in the body. The stones can be manually manipulated over the body to create an all over warming sensation, or can be placed on the body to open the energy pathways – also known as our chakra centre.
Precious marble stones are commonly used to treat the chakra system; these stones are found at the bottom of ancient oceans and are used to cleanse the body and promote healing. The chakra concept is that every individual consists of a spiritual body separate from the physical body. The spiritual body is made up of vibrations of light; each representing different centres known as: base or root chakra; naval or sacral chakra; solar plexus; heart chakra; throat chakra; brow chakra and crown chakra. Each of these acts like a valve that regulates the flow of energy throughout our physical systems. Thus, when our chakras are all in balance with one another then it creates positive energy, and when they are out of balance it creates negative energies; all of us are fighting to achieve a positive equilibrium everyday and this is one source that can help achieve that!
Overall, this massage promotes deep relaxation, alleviates stress, releases toxins from the body, relieves pain, improves circulation and calms the psyche.
Thai massage is yet another massage that is of Indian origin; it is believed that Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, a physician to Buddha, developed this massage more than 2,500 years ago in India. It made its way to Thailand, where Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. This massage is very energising and rigorous unlike other classic forms of massage. It is also called Thai Yoga massage as the therapist uses their hands, knees, legs and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Muscle compression, joint mobilization and acupressure are also used during the treatment.
Although not for the faint hearted I’m a personal fan of this massage as it’s a full body treatment that delivers brilliant results!
There are hundreds of massages out there, new ones are developing each day and I feel it is by far the most popular treatment requested in the beauty and holistic industry. I strongly recommend trying massage if you haven’t done so already – you feel like a new person after having one! And that goes for men too!