One of the things which influenced my decision to learn massage was reading about massage and the power of touch. The fact that babies could experience dramatic developmental deficiencies and maybe even death through lack of physical contact in early infancy was a discovery which “touched” me. This made me feel sad for those babies who for one reason or another were deprived of physical contact. It also showed me a door through which I would be able to help others. It is not only babies who need physical contact.
I love massage. I enjoy and love giving massages because I know the benefits that a good massage can bring. Let me start by telling you what massage means in my books
What is Massage?
Massage is one of the oldest forms of treatment and is used either as a preventative measure or as a therapy to treat illnesses and dis-eases related to our musculoskeletal system. During a massage session I work on softening or relaxing the muscles and soft tissue in the body in such a way to return them to their normal condition. In so doing I aim to improve the client’s health and well being.
What are the benefits of massage?
A massage helps to relieve tension in muscles and also affects the circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous body systems. Your heartbeat, blood pressure, and digestion can all be positively influenced, reduced anxiety is also known. Massage has even been reported to alleviate eating disorders.
During a session I use a variety of techniques such as stroking, applying pressure, and kneading. Using either a blend of oils or a single carrier oil, mostly coconut oil, I stretch and relax tension in the muscles, relieving my client of pain, leaving them feeling refreshed, relaxed, and balanced. What wonderful way to improve your general health and wellbeing!
Physical contact and its place in our development
Even without the proof of research I think common sense tells us that a lack of physical contact over prolonged spells is not “healthy”. This is possibly one reason people are put in solitary confinement while in prison – it is a punishment.
Research has shown that children who receive less physical contact and attention may be more susceptible for illness and infections. They also reportedly have more problems later on forming and maintaining relationships. There is also evidence that infants and children missing out on attention and touch fare worse in assessments and often at school too.
Steve Biddulph’s books “Raising Boys” points out clearly the importance of attention, physical contact and showing emotions to (children) boys to support them to grow up as mentally, physically and spiritually healthy members of our society.
Giving hugs and holding hands
When we have someone to give us a hug or hold our hand we feel a sense of connectedness, reassurance, comfort, al the lack of all of which awakens the opposite feelings in us.
I have known people who have become more and more withdrawn and distanced over time and at some point found it difficult to get out of this downward spiral. The results of this kind of behaviour can easily cause or worsen such conditions like depression, increased blood pressure.
This is what Marilyn Elias in USA Today writes. Massage is only one way to ensure physical contact in our lives, but doubtless a healthy, pleasurable and effective one.
Here is a link to an eBook published by Scientific American on “Understanding Child Development” if you want to read more on this subject.
A healer? Who me? No, I would not call myself a healer. But I do believe that massage can leave people feeling “healed”, that is refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed.
In some societies or circles touching another person is not “the done thing”. Of course there is “touching” and “touching” – I am not encouraging unsolicited or inappropriate touch, which has no place in therapeutic, professional massage anyway.
The physical contact we experience during a massage can soothe, calm, and reassure us. Touch speaks multiple languages; during a massage session it speaks one of relaxation, destressing, letting go, shutting off the mind.
Are all massages the same?
No two massages are the same. They might be similar in technique and sequence but in the same way that no two bodies are the same, I can not and would to want to duplicate a massage for a client. Alone the fact that there are various types of massages answers this question.
The massage I offer is intuitive, which means that I go with what the person is presenting. If a client just wants a relaxing massage that is what I provide. However if I feel there are some knots “craving” to be addressed I will ask and then act according to the response.
I think this will be the same for most therapists; I also believe you will likely not find any two therapist who massage exactly the same even if they trained at the same place. Massage is intimate and personal and each client has to be treated as an individual during a session.
Are there situations when massage is not advisable?
Although I know that this is a great form of therapy and relaxation there are times and situations where a massage is not appropriate and not recommended.
- (open) wounds, cuts, rashes or any contagious illness (warts, herpes)
- high blood pressure or are diabetic
- Varicose veins, Stroke and Cancer are situations when a massage is not advisable
- If you are pregnant you definitely need to inform your therapist – there are massages specifically for pregnant women.
- spasms or cramps
- bacterial or viral infection like colds, flu etc
- following surgery
This is a short list of some of the conditions you need to inform your therapist of before you make an appointment. Generally it is best if you inform your therapist of any condition prior to your massage. The therapist can then prepare accordingly or advise you on an alternative form of treatment.
There is much evidence to show that physical contact is an important ingredient in raising healthy, happy( and a whole list of other positive characteristics) children to become positive members of our society. Evidence is also available on the “healing” powers and health benefits of massage.
The combination of therapeutic essential oils, the manipulation of muscles and tissue and most importantly the warmth, attention, and physical contact the therapist gives the client through their hands is probably what causes people to describe massage as healing and value it as a part of their health regime.