Natural Health & Wellness

On the Road and On the Move

Massage

As we welcome in the New Year, 
we set new goals for ourselves.
                                            

by Ocea

Taking better care of myself was at the top of my list.

While on a recent business trip to LA., I had to change planes in Denver. With a couple of hours to spare I went wandering around and stumbled upon an airport massage center. "Okay," I thought to myself, "now is a good time to put into practice one of my resolutions - to get more bodywork done on myself this year." So, I walked in the door and was greeted with a warm smile.

"Lisa" was the massage therapist on duty at the time. There were about eight massage chairs in an open room, and two massage tables. I could have chosen a full body massage on one of the tables behind a fabric curtain - but I was afraid I would fall asleep. So, I opted for the chair massage. The rates varied - but in an airport, it is usually about $1.50 per minute. I selected a twenty-minute chair massage - just enough time for her to get after the travel induced tightness in my neck, shoulders and back.

The therapist was good, very communicative, asking me often how the pressure was. But the chest pad on the chair was extremely uncomfortable. My arms kept going to sleep from the pressure of the frame against my shoulders. I asked the therapist to stop the massage and change chairs so the pressure would subside.

Most people wouldn't have spoken up. My first rule about massage is that it should never be uncomfortable. I can't tell you how many of my friends and clients have said to me, "I got a massage while out of town and it was horrible!" The first thing I always ask them is "did you relay your discomfort to the therapist?". Usually the reply is "no." Once again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to communicate any discomfort you feel during a session to your massage therapist.

I encourage you this year to give it a go. Whether it's through a massage certificate, or an appointment you treat yourself to. Massage is an excellent way to alleviate sore muscles, stress, and fatigue. Some of the more common massage types are as follows:

SWEDISH MASSAGE

A therapeutic massage consisting of continuous elongated strokes, deep kneading and stretching of tight muscles.

Benefits: Reduces stress levels, stretches and tones muscles, helps the body to maintain wellness.

SHIATSU OR ACCUPRESSURE

A Japanese massage meaning "finger pressure", Shiatsu is both a form of physical manipulation and a means toward the growth of body, mind and spirit. Many of the techniques are applied to the same system of energy channels or "meridians" as used in acupuncture.

Benefits: Allows your mind, body and spirit to come into greater harmony so that you can look, feel, and be healthier.

REFLEXOLOGY

This technique consists of compression, using the thumbs to apply firm pressure to specific points on the bottom of the feet. A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the hands, feet, and ears which correspond to every part, gland, and organ of the body.

Benefits: Relaxation and release of tension, improved circulation, promotes the natural function of the body.

DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE

A refined treatment using specific cross-tissue movements to aid in the restoration of damaged muscles and soft tissue in the entire body. Because of its benefits to all of the body's soft tissue, it may be described as the most comprehensive form of corrective bodywork available today.

Benefits: Corrects injured muscles and soft tissue on a cellular level and breaks up all adhesions and restrictions

SPORTS MASSAGE

A technique used to keep athletes conditioned before their activity and to help loosen and stretch the muscles after their activity. It consists of deep elongated strokes and pressure to the muscles.

Benefits: Regular sports massage can help speed recovery, lower stress, promote greater endurance and flexibility, prevent injuries, and enhance body awareness.

HEATED STONE THERAPY

A heated, flat, round stone is used in the palm of the therapist hands, as he or she gives a slow, deep elongated stroke. The heat from the pebble gives maximum relaxation to tense muscles.

Once you've selected your therapist and the type of massage you want, here are some important things to keep in mind:

· Always state your specific needs before beginning. Make the therapist aware of any injuries or aches and pains you are experiencing.

· Massage should never be painful. If a therapist is working too deeply, tell them to pull back on the pressure.

· Massage should never be uncomfortable. Only disrobe to the point where you feel comfortable. The rooms should never be too hot or cold.

· Don't always assume the person giving the massage is a mind reader. Just as you need to let them know if they are using too much pressure, it is equally important to speak up if the pressure isn't enough.

Some of the benefits of massage are as follows:

     •     Improves morale and alleviates "burn out"

     •     Boosts immune system

     •     Assists in detoxifying the body

     •     Increases flexibility and blood circulation

     •     Creates an overall sense of well-being

As a rule, you should expect to pay $1 per minute for chair [neck and shoulders] work, and about $60 - $100 for an hour of full-body work. Also, don't be surprised if they tack on an additional $20 for an "out-call" if they have to come to your house.

Here's to those new year's resolutions!