As little as 10 years ago, the concept of massage in most peoples mind’s was that of a luxury reserved for professional athletes, the rich and famous or at best as a self-indulgent splurge while vacationing at a resort. Today, however, massage has become a much more common and regular practice for the average individual, as more and more businesses continuing to offer this service proves. But, you may be asking yourself “is it right for me?”
To begin answering this question, let’s explore what happens during a therapeutic massage, what shouldn’t happen, and what the vast array of benefits are. If you are walking into a practitioners office for the first time, you will usually begin your session by being given a brief health questionnaire, so the therapist can determine the goals for the massage, as well as if any serious conditions exist why a massage should not be performed or the techniques limited. Once this step is completed, you will be left alone briefly to disrobe, lie down on a massage table and cover yourself with a top sheet. When the practitioner returns, he or she will almost always begin by gliding and stroking over the muscles and skin to warm them up and prepare them for deeper work, such as kneading and muscle rolling. As the massage progresses, your therapist will continue to work more deeply into your muscles, but should never cross the line where intense pain or discomfort are felt. As your massage is coming to a close, there will usually be a return to some gentle gliding and finishing strokes, before you are left in private to get off the table and dress.
Some of the many benefits of massage include regulation of circulatory function, energy levels and breathing, stimulation of lymphatic flow which helps the body eliminate toxins, muscle tone, cellulite reduction, immune system stimulation, and last but certainly not least a deep sense of calm, nurture and stress reduction.
Within a professional setting, there are a few guidelines that should never be crossed. You should never be told to undress further than you are comfortable with. You should never be embarrassed by private areas of your body being exposed. You should never be dealt with in a sexual or harassing manner and you should never have your threshold for pain and discomfort crossed.
It is unfortunate to also have to address a somewhat common misconception that getting a therapeutic massage can also have sexual implications in some peoples minds. Any therapist or client working within a legitimate office setting should never cross this boundary and should result in the immediate termination of the session either from a client or therapist standpoint. It is far in-away more common for a therapist to have to deal with unwanted advances than it would ever be for a client to experience the same inappropriate behavior from their therapist.
A few final notes would include that the guidelines and information in this article basically pertain to Swedish Massage technique, which is by far the most common form of massage done today. There are other methods of bodywork such as Rolfing or Trigger Point therapy, which can work more deeply and produce a more significant amount of pain. Reflexology is a form of massage working with various pulse points on the feet, that correlate with various organs of the body. Applying fingertip or thumb pressure on the appropriate pulse point is said to promote healing and stimulation of the corresponding organ. Also, some other forms of therapy which work at the energetic levels of the body such as Reike, Therapeutic
Touch and Auric Stroking are performed with some degree of frequency, so it may be wise to check with your practitioner in advance to make sure you will be getting the type of session that you desire. Massage can be performed on men and women from the very young to the very old–is it right for you?