What is massage?
Massage is an ancient form of healing, used for thousands of years to offer relief from pain, to restore good spirits, provide comfort, boost energy, and to rejuvenate muscles.
Why use massage?
The tactile action of massage has a great many useful effects. Massage will:
- Enhance one's awareness of body and breathing and so improve posture.
- Relieve accumulated tension and restore flexibility to tight, sore muscles.
- Break down waste products held in the muscles and improve the cleansing role of the lymphatic system.
Signs of stress
The body is directly affected by the stress felt by everyone in their day-to-day lives - muscles tighten in response, and breath flow lessons. These reactions are then reflected in a person's posture, which will alter according to where and how tension is held in various parts of the body:
- When the neck is bend, causing the head to be pushed forward, it should be lengthened and brought in line
with the spine.
- When the jaw and face are tight with tension, they should be loose and supple.
- Tension in the shoulders has caused them to be rounded instead of wide and relaxed.
- When the chest is caved in and constricted, it needs to be opened out and widened.
- When the spine is rigid and locked, it needs to be relaxed and extended upward.
- When tension in the pelvis causes it to be locked back, it needs to drop forward slightly, under the upper body.
- Instead of being loose and flexible, the legs are stiff with tension.
- When the knees too are stiff and locked back, they should be loose and flexible.
- When the upper body is leaning forward, the feet should be stable and shoulder width apart in order to support
the body weight evenly.
The body's response to massage
Massage actually speeds up the natural healing processes of the body, calms the mind, and settles the emotions. By reaching the emotions as well as the body, it evokes changes in the whole person. It is the perfect antidote to stress. To help your partner enjoy the benefits of the massage, start by locating the points of tension around his/her body.
When not to give a massage
If you are suffering from any of the following, seek medical advice before going ahead with a massage, or indeed if you are in any doubt at all about appropriateness:
- High fever or skin condition
- Swelling, undiagnosed lumps, inflammation, or heavy bruising
- Recent scar tissue, fresh wounds, inflammation, or varicose veins
- Acute back pain or severe injury
- Cardiovascular conditions such as thrombosis or heart disease
- Cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, or psychiatric illness of any kind