What is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy means many things to many people, and it is one of the oldest healthcare practices known -its origin dates back to over 4,000 years- but simply said it is the manipulation of soft tissue in the body, such as muscle, tendons, and ligaments, with the objective to enhance a person's health and well-being.
It consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and causing movement of the body. Generally applied with the hands, massage therapy sometimes involves forearms and elbows.
When Massage Therapy Can Help?
The techniques used by your therapist affect the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body.
You may seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons: to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, rehabilitate injuries, reduce pain, address sleep disorders, and more generally to promote overall health and wellness.
Therapeutic massage acts on the entire body. It allows to:
- Treat skin problems such as cellulite, orange skin, excess fat
- Relieve muscle and joint pain
- Strengthen muscle tone
- Strengthen joints (tendons and ligaments)
- Optimize blood circulation
- Regulate the functioning of the lymphatic system, nervous system and digestive system
- Improve kidney and heart function
- Heal respiratory ailments
- Balance the metabolism of the organism
- Eliminate toxins causing stress and nervousness
What Does a Massage Therapist Do?
Going for a massage requires little preparation. You are expected to be clean. It is also recommended not to eat just before the session, and not to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Your first appointment begins with the gathering of some personal information, such as the reason for getting massage therapy, your physical condition and medical history.
After completion of the health intake form, you will be introduced to your massage therapist who will lead you to your massage room. The massage room will be warm and quiet, with soft light and music to set a relaxing atmosphere.
Your massage therapist will instruct you on how to position yourself on the massage table, and will leave the room while you undress to your comfort level. A towel will be provided for draping. The massage therapist will undrape only the part of the body being massaged.
Therapeutic massage is done with a massage product -oil or cream. Essential oil is what is used most often. The choice thereof depends on the body part to be treated and the desired objective. Other massage products such as talc, creams or massage gels are also an alternative to the practice of massage therapy.
The therapist will start with soft strokes, to warm the muscles and promote penetration of the oil. Then he/she will continue with movements of kneading and friction before ending the session by superficial tapping.
During the massage session, the therapist will ask you for feedback. Feel free to indicate him or her if you feel uncomfortable or if you have sensitive areas that you want to be avoided.
Your massage session will last about 45 minutes to one hour. After it is finished, you will be given privacy and sufficient time to dress. After a session, you will feel extremely relaxed and even a little drained. After this initial period of feeling slowed down, you will experience an increase in energy and alertness that may last for several days.
Is Massage Therapy Safe?
Massage is generally considered a safe practice. However, certain medical conditions may increase the risk of negative side effects from massage. These include cancer, advanced heart diseases, fractured bones, hypertension, contagious skin conditions, and infectious diseases of the skin. In some cases, precautions should be taken before using massage if you are pregnant, or suffer from certain forms of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Your massage therapist has been specifically trained to work with patients under medical care, including patients with cancer, and he/she will indicate you if massage may or may not be appropriate for your specific case.