Guide to harnessing the healing power of massage therapy

April 8, 2016

If you’ve always wanted to try massage therapy, but know very little about its healing benefits for the body and soul, here's some information about this ancient practice to ease your concerns.

Guide to harnessing the healing power of massage therapy

Relaxing, stress relieving and therapeutic for the body and soul are the best way to describe this healing practice. If you’ve been wanting to try it, but are anxious about what to expect during your first massage therapy session, here is some information to diminish any worries you might have before your first visit.

Who is massage therapy for?

Babies and children
We often forget that little ones also get stressed, and the benefits of pediatric massage for babies and children are numerous.

For babies, nothing soothes more than a mother’s loving touch.

  • There are gentle techniques you can learn to help baby feel calmer and more relaxed, that will also teach a tactile understanding of his or her body. It’s also a great way to get baby ready for bed, as it encourages sleep. Could there be a better reason for giving it a try?

For children, it provides an opportunity to bond with you and escape their hectic schedules.

  • These days simply keeping your kids organized – school notwithstanding – is stressful enough. That’s why massage therapy can go a long way to improving their concentration, sleep patterns and make them less irritable. In fact, some spas offer pediatric massages, although not all massage therapists will provide this service – so check ahead.

There are specialized massage therapists who understand the idiosyncrasies of the aging body. Moreover, they’re trained in techniques to draw out the many health benefits of massage therapy for seniors, including:

  • Reducing pain associated with arthritis
  • Increasing flexibility and mobility
  • Diminishing feelings of depression

Expectant mothers
Any woman who has ever been pregnant knows that some of changes your body goes through can be quite uncomfortable. That’s why prenatal massage therapy is ideal*, because it helps to:

  • Relieve back and lumbar tensions
  • Enhances the quality of sleep
  • Reduces symptoms of nausea

*N.B.: You should be aware that many massage therapists strongly suggest waiting until the end of the first trimester before receiving a prenatal massage. The first twelve weeks are crucial for the developing fetus.

Don’t forget the guys!
More and more, men are embracing the benefits of massage therapy to help them feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

Be aware!

There are instances when getting a massage could be potentially risky and may not be advisable. For example:

  • If you have a fever.
  • For certain health conditions, like uncontrolled hypertension.
  • If you’re taking medications, e.g. blood thinners, which could make you bruise more easily.
  •  If you have undergone surgery in the last three months.

If you’re unsure, consult your family doctor to avoid any risks.

What’s more, real therapeutic massage requires massage oil. Tell your therapist of any allergies before the start of the massage in case there’s something in the oil you shouldn’t be exposed to.

Benefits of massage therapy

Although proven to reduce the physical discomfort of conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and migraine headaches, the healing benefits of massage therapy don’t stop there.

Massage therapy soothes
Nothing is more soothing than the rejuvenating power of massage therapy to:

  • Release tension from your shoulders
  • Restore the flow of energy throughout your body
  • Brighten your outlook and boost your mood

Other benefits
Along with loosening up joints stiff from anxiety, many common massage therapy techniques are good for stimulating blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, improving posture and boosting your immune system.

Which type should I choose?

Massage therapy uses many different approaches, each one with its own benefits. So which one should you choose to suit your needs? Among the most popular types of massage you’ll find:

Californian massage
The relaxing Californian massage is a classic spa treatment and, first and foremost, all about deep rest and relaxation.

Hot stone massage
Likewise for the hot stone massage which gently dissipates stress. The heat has a positive effect on relaxation.

Swedish massage
On the other hand, Swedish massage helps alleviate back pain, aches and chronic discomfort.

  • It works well for people who are active and athletic, or who perform physically demanding jobs or experience high levels of stress, such as healthcare workers and hospital employees.

Thai massage
For a more dynamic approach that includes a strong spiritual dimension, health-enhancing Thai massage focuses on harmonizing the mind, body and spirit by promoting emotional self-awareness.

  • Thai massage is excellent for working through difficult or negative emotions.

Sports massage
The most active people will want to turn to sports massage therapy as a way to potentially avoid injuries, or even help speed up healing.

  • The course of treatment received can be tailored according to your sport.

Aromatherapy massage
Aromatherapy massage combines the purifying scents of essential oils and the gentle manipulation of massage on the body to help treat everything from insomnia to alleviating symptoms of PMS.

Shiatsu massage
This type of massage is often very emotionally therapeutic and promotes harmony of mind and body.

  • Shiatsu massage is good for addressing anxiety, depression and behavioural problems.

How to choose a spa

Now that you know the type of massage you want, it’s time to find a spa. Where should you start?

  • Do online research about the spas that interest you. You can find out a lot about a business by reading about other people’s experiences and looking at ratings.
  • Ask about the practitioner’s experience and training – both qualities you should look for in a massage therapist that you’re hoping can help alleviate some of your medical conditions.
  • Drop in unannounced to see the facilities before you schedule a formal visit. This will allow you to see the spa in its “natural” state.

Self-massage at home

Seeing your massage therapist may not always fit onto your schedule.

Mobile massage therapy

Another option growing in popularity if you simply can’t get to the massage therapist, is to have the massage therapist come to you. It means instant relaxation without going to the spa. So who might benefit?

  • Friends or couples at a hotel.
  • Elderly people or people with disabilities in care facilities.
  • Pregnant women or new mothers at home.

Becoming a massage therapist

Eventually, you may discover that you want to become a certified massage therapist.  Along with being open-minded and a good listener, plus physically active and emotionally balanced, the differences between massage therapy training programs vary greatly in Canada. So before choosing your training program, do your research to find one that suits you.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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