Probably one of the most powerful preventive medicine tools available to us is that of massage. It is one of the oldest forms of treatment and can be traced back many thousands of years to the ancient Greeks, Persians and Chinese who are said to have practiced massage as a spiritual art. The word Massage comes from the Greek ‘massein’ meaning ‘to knead’.
Today in this fast paced 21st century, it could be argued that we’ve never known a more hectic style of living. When we become stressed our activity becomes strenuous and our energy requirements exceed supply. Our bodies can become tired and stiff, our muscles cramped and sluggish with the overall feeling of being tense, fatigued and stressed. But do we take time-out? Do we look for ways to relax and slow down? Do we decide to nurture ourselves a little? Usually not! Let’s face it, most of us just soldier on. We are so caught up on the treadmill of our busy lives that we have forgotten how to listen to our bodies.
The experts and their statistics tell us that we are living longer than ever before. Our life expectancy is extending every few years with a result that most of us can now expect to live well into our eighties! Perhaps this is one of the reasons that more and more people today are now taking responsibility for their own health and well being. People are looking to complementary therapies to aid the recovery from tension, stress and fatigue. In our determination to be healthy and remain healthy many of us now use massage as a powerful form of preventative medicine and as part of an integrated approach to our personal health care.
The Power of Touch
It has long been recognized that the power of touch is crucial to us as humans. We are all sensual beings and as a result our bodies respond well to massage and human contact. Research in the UK has proven that in many health institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, etc. patients responded better to treatment and were more content when there was more physical contact between their carers and themselves.
Here’s why it works – There are many types of massage techniques which can include, sports massage, mother and baby massage, Swedish, Shiatsu and Reflexology, but the basic principle of each is very similar. Massage improves circulation allowing your blood to send oxygen and nutrients to your muscles where ultimately they are converted into energy. Furthermore it assists the filtering out of toxins and drains the essential lymph system which is so important for a strong immune system. The result? A nourished, cleansed and relaxed body and a wonderful sense of well being that can last for many days afterwards!
Points to Remember When Visiting a Massage Therapist:
1) A qualified massage therapist will have undergone a substantial period of training and should be a member of an international association relating to his/her specific field of expertise. There are a number of excellent therapists in your locality and referring to your telephone directories should provide you with a qualified massage therapist or clinic in your area.
2) Your therapist will want to get to know about you on your first visit and will prepare a personal case history based on a number of questions he/she will ask. In order for the therapist to provide you with the best suited therapy during your session these questions are important and will touch upon medical, social, personal information as well as your family history of illnesses, etc. Based on the information compiled the therapist will then design a treatment specifically for you.
3) It is important for you to feel at ease with your therapist and it is the practitioner’s job to make you feel comfortable and explain to you what they will be doing.
4) Always let your therapist know what you are planning to do after your massage.
5) If you are planning to have an Aromatherapy Massage, i.e. a massage combined with pure essential oils, it is best not to have a shower or bath for approximately eight hours as this period of time is needed to allow the full absorption of the oils into the body.
6) Finally when your session is complete your therapist will allow you some quiet time to relax on your own before getting up and heading off and continuing your day.
So, as and from today, make a promise to yourself, commit to having a healthier body, system and rested mind and book that massage appointment now – aren’t you worth it?
Paula Hynes is a Lifeskills Consultant and Educator specializing in stress, touch therapy and self care. She is also the founder of The Natural Therapy Training Centre in County Westmeath Ireland