This gorgeous hands-on therapy is one of life’s great healers, says Deborah Durbin
This gorgeous hands-on therapy is one of life’s great healers, says Deborah Durbin
One of life’s little delights is to book yourself in for a thoroughly indulgent, relaxing massage treatment. However, this health-boosting therapy isn’t just for pampering purposes.Researchers in Seattle, Washington have found that massage works better than many standard health treatments. Several studies compiled by the Group Health Centre for Health Studies showed that massage as medicine causes the body to release serotonin and dopamine chemicals which slowthe heart rate, reduce blood pressure and block pain receptors.According to Dr Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, massage can help ease everything from labour pains tomigraines and even cancer.Massage therapy goes back thousands of years, and ‘the art of rubbing’, as Hippocrates called it, is thought to be the oldest form of medicine know to man with references to its healing powers being noted in China, Japan, India, Egypt and Greece.
Here we look at some of the most popular forms of massage and their incredible health benefits…
This massage focuses on the lower layers of muscle tissue. It is designed to reach the deep sections of thick muscles,specifically the individual muscle fibres. Using deep muscle compression and friction along the grain of the muscle, the purpose of the massage is to unstick the fibres of the muscles and release toxins and tension. Specific hand positions and strokes are used to respond to various tissues while breath and movement techniques are employed to release muscular congestion. It helps to loosen muscle tissues, release toxins from muscles and get blood and oxygen circulating properly and is ideal for physical problems, such as, sports injuries or those suffering from chronic pain. Massage takes place on a table and is applied to bare skin. The masseur will focus on the area of the pain. Deep tissue massage can cause some soreness afterwards, but you should feel better within a day or so.
This type of massage is ideal for anyone who does a lot of sports or suffers from a bad back, cramp or muscle aches.
Try it at: Baby Turtle Bodyworks, Central London,N1 2HR. Call 07939 108 798 or go to babyturtlebodyworks.co.uk
“Massage can help easeeverything from labour pains to migraines and even cancer”
This is also known as trigger point massage and is an effective treatment for back pain or if you have strained a muscle. This form of massage pressure is usually applied by a therapist with the fingers, knuckles, or the elbow for about 30 seconds at a time. Neuromuscular therapy often feelspainful to begin with first, but the pressure of the massage should alleviate muscle spasm. Neuromuscular massage is used to treat the lower back, the neck and arms, repetitive motion injuries, headaches and numbness and tingling in the limbs and is ideal for the high flyer who works long hours or those that play a lot of sport.
Try it at: Matthew Harrington Massage Therapy, Bishopston, Bristol. Call 0117 924 4923
Thai massage is a massage technique that comprises stretching and deep massage and was originally practiced in India,China and Southeast Asia. It is thought to have originated during the 19th century as a form of healing.
A Thai massage is traditionally performed on the floor. The patient is asked to wear comfortable, loose clothes and the masseur will put the patient’s body into various yoga positions during the massage. T
The Thai masseur leans on the patient’s body, using their hands, forearms and elbows to apply a firm pressure, which can be a bit uncomfortable to begin with if you haven’t had a Thai massage before, but it’s not painful. You will also need to book out some time because a full Thai massage typically lasts two hours or more and includes pulling fingers, toes, earlobes and walking on the patient’s back. A Thai massage is ideal if you are plagued with stress or if you suffer from anxiety. Many patients fall asleep during this massage and wake feeling like a whole new person.
Try it at: Thai Therapy, Knightsbridge, London. Call 020 7589 3709 or visitthaitherapy.com
Swedish massage was invented by Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish physiologist during the 1800s. During a Swedish massage you are usually underneath a towel or a sheet. The therapist will uncover only the part of the body that he/she is working on. If you feel self-conscious about the nudity part, you can keep your underwear on. The main thing is that you feel relaxed and comfortable. Swedish massage is the most common of massages and if you are new to massage this is the one you should try first.Because it is one of the gentlest forms of massage, it is ideal for those who have stressful jobs and need to relax at the end of the week. You usually start by lying face down with your head in a face cradle so your spine stays neutral. The masseur then starts by working on your back, using various techniques that include gliding,kneading, friction, stretching and tapping, while applying oil to your body. When she’s finished with the back, she will work on the back o each leg. When done with the back side, she will hold the sheet or towel up and look away while you turn over onto your back, then she will quickly cover you up again. The therapist will then massages the front of each leg, both arms, and generally finish with your neck and shoulders. The session should take between 50 minutes and an hour. It’s ideal if you are a stressed out mum and in need of a little care and pampering.
Try it at: The Soho Salon.London. Call 020 74944444 or visit thesohosalon.com
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. It is believed that when the oils are inhaled, they stimulate the brain. When the oils are applied to the skin, they are absorbed through the pores and travel through to the bloodstream where they can provide healing to the whole body. An aromatherapy massage should always be carried out by a professional and qualified masseur and you should be careful about having an aromatherapy massage if you are pregnant or have any on-going health problems, such as high blood pressure. When you have an aromatherapy massage, the practitioner will mix the correct amount of essential oil to a base oil and gently massage your body, applying it directly to the skin.Aromatherapy treats most common ailments and is one of the most popular massage therapies available. If you are looking for a more gentle massage experience, this is the one for you.
Try it at: Victoria’s Health and Beauty,Downend, Bristol. Call 0117957 5080 or visit victoriasbeauty.co.uk
Rolfing was developed by Dr Ida Rolf, a biochemist from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. Rolf dedicated her life to teaching her method of massage known as rolfing, which is now offered by over 1,500 practitioners all over the world. Rolfing is a massage practice, over a series of 10 sessions with the objective of maximising individual wellbeing of body and mind. Ida Rolf argued that when our bodies are out of sync with gravity,we feel out of sync. Patients adopt better posture, gain height and move better after a rolfing massage. It is beneficial to a broad range of people and conditions and contributes to the preventative approach in contemporary healthcare. During a rolfing session, the client generally lies down and is guided through specific movements. The rolfer manipulates the muscles in a sequence of moves. It takes between 60 and 90 minutes for each session, with a specific goalfor each session. Vivien Skelton, a certified rolfer and rolf movement practitioner says; “As the body changes it allows for more economical movement patterns that will require less energy to maintain and allows for more graceful fluid movement, more confidence and growing self –esteem. Rolfing is complementary and sits well alongside other therapies.”Rolfing is ideal if you want a good pampering session that will boost your confidence and will last for weeks afterwards.
Try it at: Vivien Skelton, Lichfield, Staffordshire. Call 01543 433 082 or visit rolfingmidlands.co.uk
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