“About one third of Americans still think massage is a luxury,” says Mary Beth Braun, president of the American Massage Therapy Association, “but our latest survey shows that 40 percent have had a massage to relieve pain.” Massage is now a well-established form of therapy. It is used to treat injuries, to relieve pain, and for relaxation.
Stress causes muscle tension that can be painful. During times of stress, lactic acid builds up in the muscles and causes pain. Massage releases the lactic acid and other toxins that have built up in the muscles. Massage also relieves pain by loosening tight muscles and improving circulation.
Massage is an excellent way to relieve emotional stress, as well. We don’t touch one another much in today’s society, and touch is soothing and healing to the mind. An hour-long massage can relieve an awful lot of stress!
Types of Massage
There are many different types of massage, used for different purposes. Massage therapists often use a combination of techniques. You can talk with the therapist ahead of time about what techniques he or she will be using.
Swedish Massage- This is the most common type of massage. It involves long, light strokes, circular movements, and kneading of the muscles. It is very relaxing.
Deep Tissue Massage- This type of massage uses more direct pressure. It can be a bit uncomfortable as tight muscles are loosened. This kind of massage is very effective for relieving muscle pain and spasms.
Aromatherapy Massage- This involves including essential oils in the massage. It smells lovely, and the oils are meant to have certain health benefits as well.
Cranio-sacral Massage- This type of massage focuses on the head and spine. It is particularly effective for reliving headaches, and can help with back pain as well.
Acupressure- You may have heard of acupuncture, in which needles are inserted at various points on the body to induce healing. With acupressure, no needles are involved. Instead, pressure is applied using the finer tips to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation. Different pressure points relate to different parts of the body.
Reflexology- This type of massage focuses on the feet. Various pressure points on the feet correspond to different parts of the body and as they are touched or pressed they affect those other body parts.
Hot Stone Massage- Smooth, heated stones are placed on the body to soothe and relax tight muscles. The therapist may hold the stones and apply gentle pressure with them. This is a very gentle type of massage.
Massage works well along with other types of therapy, as well. For instance, it can be combined with chiropractic care or physical therapy to treat injuries in a holistic way.
So what’s it like?
Before your massage, you should talk with the therapist about any particular areas of pain and the main reason you are having a massage. Tell the massage therapist if you have any health problems, as that may affect your treatment. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. People often feel a bit nervous or awkward the first time they get a massage, so if you feel that way, you’re not alone.
The massage room is usually warm, dimly lit, and quiet. There may be soft music playing.
There will be a special massage table that is padded. Most people undress for their massage, but it’s up to your, depending on your comfort level. You will be covered with a sheet or towel during the massage. Only the part of the body being worked on will be uncovered.
Your job during the massage is to relax. You don’t need to talk to entertain the massage therapist. Close your eyes and allow your body to go limp.
After the massage, you should drink lots of water. This will help continue to flush the toxins from your body.
What does it cost and where do I sign up?
A massage usually costs about $60 for a one-hour session. Half-hour sessions are often available for a lesser price. If there is a massage therapy school in your area, low-cost massages by students may be available.
Sometimes insurance will cover the cost, especially if you have been injured or if your doctor has recommended massage therapy for you. A study conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association found that as many as ten percent of people receiving massage had insurance that helped cover the cost. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for a referral and to ask your insurance company to pay for massage therapy.
You can find a massage therapist by asking your doctor, by looking in your local yellow pages, or by contacting the American Massage Therapy Association or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work. It is important to find a qualified therapist. Ask if the massage therapist is licensed in your state or is certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work.