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  • Writer's picturePaula Wilson-Young

Why you need a massage

Regular massage is a great way to support your physical and mental health, said every massage therapist in the land! On a serious note, we don’t say this without any evidence to back it up. Our own experience of working with people over the years allows us to see first-hand the difference it can make to people’s lives, and there is also a growing number of evidence-based studies that are showing how massage as well as other complementary therapies are helping to improve physical and mental health alongside traditional healthcare. Once you have your first massage and feel that floaty sense of relaxation as your muscular tension melts away, and your body moves moves freely… I guarantee you will be a massage fan for life!

The Science to support why you need a massage

Many studies have now shown that massage can lower stress and anxiety, improve quality of sleep and help manage chronic muscular pain. Massage therapy has also been shown to reduce general muscular tension, improve recovery time from soft tissue injuries, increase exercise performance and support the immune system. So, it makes sense that people are asking more questions about massage as they turn to it for help alongside traditional healthcare.

A 2002 survey carried out by The Federation of Holistic Therapists reported that 86% of those surveyed said using complementary therapies had improved their health and wellbeing and 95% of those people would have further treatments. In addition, the study reported that “complementary therapy treatments helped with stress and anxiety (54%), muscular pains (41%), lower back pain (26%), joint problems (22%) and tiredness and fatigue (22%). ( 37% reduced doctor’s visits after undertaking complementary therapy, survey finds – The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) Blog)

For my first adventure into the world of blogging, I wanted to share with you some of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a massage therapist and my answers to those questions. This might be most helpful to those of you who are new to massage and want a bit more information before you book that first appointment. I hope that you find some of this information useful, and if you do have any questions that haven’t been answered here or want further information on anything I have discussed then please feel free to get in touch.

Okay, sold on WHY I need a massage but what type of massage is right for me?

This is a great question to ask before you go ahead and book a massage appointment because every type of massage is different, and some may be better suited to your needs. A good way to think about this, is by asking yourself “what do I want to get out of my massage?”

Once you know the answer to this question you will be able to look at specific types of massage that can address your needs. These days you can easily research this yourself online, but I would recommend researching the therapist you want to go to and then giving them a wee call to chat about what might be the right option for you, this way you can get any questions you have answered by a trained professional. I am always happy to hear from prospective clients before booking in because I want you to have the treatment that will be most effective for you. In some cases, this means I might not offer the best treatment for you, but I will be able to refer you to another professional who can help.

At Health Rediscovered we offer a variety of massage in Allison offers Swedish and Sports, Paula Pregnancy and Hara/abdominal

  • Swedish massage is a more traditional, flowing massage style that can be very helpful for relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation, easing general muscular tension in common areas such as the back, neck and shoulders and boosting wellbeing overall.

  • Sports and remedial massage on the other hand is a more targeted treatment that commonly has a more intense and focused approach. It can be helpful for those who want to speed up recovery between training sessions, boost recovery from soft tissue injuries. Treat specific chronic muscular tension, ease repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel and tennis elbow, and aid in the rehabilitation of conditions such as a frozen shoulder, groin strain and sciatic pain.

  • Pregnancy massage is for those who are pregnant funnily enough. With Paula's specialist qualification from Well Mother - where she got a disctinction, she has learned how to adapt the massage to keep it safe and effective. It can be a gentle pamper if that's what you need, BUT it can ALSO be a targeted, muscle relieving, sciatica improving deeper massage if that is what is needed.

  • Hara Massage is a specialised abdominal massage that targets the digestive organs, as well as the reproductive and urinary system. It can improve not only digestion, but aid fertility, relieve PMS, and endometriosis symptoms. It creates a very deep sense of relaxation and improves our ability to breathe.

Things you have always wanted to know but been too afraid to ask your massage therapist.

What happens at my first massage appointment?

What happens at every clinic, spa or salon will be different to some degree so here is a simple outline of what you can expect if you book a massage appointment with me…

You will arrive for your appointment at your chosen time slot and be greeted by my cheery wee face at the door. Once in the therapy room we will go through a consultation form together. This is basically a client questionnaire that allows me to build a picture of your overall health and wellbeing and find out what you want to get out of your massage session. It is important to give accurate health information at this point so that I can assess if massage is appropriate for you. Certain health conditions if present, mean massage is not suitable, and this is something we would discuss if it came up during our chat. My top priority is always your health and wellbeing and that sometimes means massage is not the right option at that point in time. If this does happen I might ask you to check in with your doctor first before proceeding with treatment.

Once we finish your consultation and we are okay to proceed with your massage, I always ask you about the level of pressure you prefer during massage. This gives me a starting point, but I will always check in with you during your massage and alter the pressure as we go. It’s your massage so let me know how it feels when it comes to pressure. We are all different and I will always work within your comfort zone so that you enjoy the treatment and get the maximum benefits from your session. Don’t worry if its your first massage and you are unsure of pressure, I will be guided by you, and will never be offended if you ask me to change the level of pressure during your massage.

If this is your first massage I will then explain to you how to position yourself on the massage bed and what level of undressing is required, again this is only a guide, and I will work within your comfort levels when it comes to what level of undressing you are comfortable with. I will leave the room for a few minutes so that you can get undressed and return once you are settled on the bed and covered by a towel.

I will carry out your treatment and once it is completed I will again leave the room so that you can take your time getting up and getting dressed. After your treatment I will briefly discuss with you how you are feeling and give you any necessary advice that will help to extend the benefits of your massage. This can include the following: drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine and heavy meals that evening, stretching techniques, or tips on improving posture. We might also discuss return sessions to tackle your current issues.

*Please note that if you are booked in for sports/remedial massage with a particular issue you wish to target, then the consultation portion of the treatment can be slightly longer and include a simple assessment where I will take you through a series of movements. This informs your treatment as it allows me to pinpoint the area/s of the body I will be treating and the techniques I will use to treat them.

Does a Sports/Remedial massage hurt?

As mentioned previously, this type of massage applies techniques that work at a deeper level, reaching beyond the superficial muscles/tissues worked on during a Swedish massage. As a result, sometimes when working over problem areas there is a level of discomfort, but I will always work within your comfort zone and check in with you regularly about any pain or discomfort you are feeling. As therapists we talk about good pain, or sweet pain but this should never cross the line into pain that is simply unbearable or unnecessary, it does not yield good results and is simply unsafe practise. I always work within your limits to allow stress levels to be controlled and muscles to become relaxed so that they can be worked on effectively. Every individual has a different tolerance level and my in-depth training and experience as a therapist means that I understand this concept and work in a safe and controlled manner with every client.

After your massage you may feel slightly sore, and in the day/s following, this is completely normal! I like to think of sports/remedial work as a good workout for your muscles. In the same way you might feel sore and tight after a good workout at the gym, you can feel this after your sports massage. We often talk about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after a good workout and the same thing can occur after a good sports massage due to the techniques used and the muscles engaged. Again, this is completely normal, and it means your muscles are working hard to repair themselves as they would after an intense workout session. Once the soreness has lifted you will often feel that your body has been completely renewed.

Is it okay if I fall asleep during my massage?

Of course! This is common when having a Swedish massage because the techniques used are lighter more flowing and have a relaxing effect on the body and mind. If anything, it’s also received by your therapist as a big compliment! I am happy that you feel so relaxed you have drifted off into the land of nod!

Can massage help lower stress and anxiety?

Swedish massage is a great way to lower stress and anxiety as it decreases muscular tension and promotes relaxation. During a Swedish massage the bodies autonomic system is stimulated and there is an increase in what are known as the happy hormones (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins). These hormones have been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. In addition to this, the levels of cortisol in the blood stream are decreased during massage. Cortisol is the hormone known for its connection to the fight or flight response that occurs when we are presented with a situation that puts us in danger or extreme stress or pain. By decreasing its levels within the body, feelings of stress and anxiety are reduced. Physical pain or tension in the body can also create a feeling of stress mentally, by lowering this pain or tension within the muscles the body is able to relax physically which has a positive effect on a person’s overall mental wellbeing.

Swedish massage has also been shown to be very successful at reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety by improving quality of sleep. This could be connected to its ability to reduce stress and muscular pain/tension within the body which may help you drift off to sleep more easily at night. It has been documented that poor sleep can be a factor that leads to an increase in the symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving sleep leads to positive changes in mood overall.

How can I expect to feel after a Swedish massage?

As discussed previously Swedish massage is known for its soothing and relaxing effects alongside its ability to reduce muscular pain and tension. This type of massage is gentler than sports massage and longer flowing strokes and moderate pressure mean it is much more of a calming and relaxing type of massage experience. It is especially good if what you are looking for is some time to zone out and de stress, or you haven’t had a massage before and want to try it for the first time. After your massage you can feel the following effects:

  • You might feel tired. This is totally normal and may be due to muscles relaxing and the release of stress. The best thing you can do after a massage is take time to relax, so listen to your body and take it easy.

  • You might feel thirsty, this is great because I will always recommend that you drink plenty of water following your massage to aid the removal of toxins from the body and avoid caffeine as it can be counter productive to this process.

  • You may have an emotional response. The body has relaxed, and the release of tension and stress can also release certain emotions you have been holding onto for some time, this can be a normal experience for some people and can even feel like part of the therapeutic experience.

  • You can feel energised, elated, and rejuvenated. Feeling like you are walking on air with a sense of clarity can be a very welcome after effect of massage. Alongside the physical benefits of massage, the effects on the bodies nervous system also play a big part in how you feel emotionally following your massage.

  • You might feel that you have more range of movement, and your body feels looser. You might also have a noticeable reduction in the muscular tension you were experiencing prior to massage.

  • This is just a few of the aftereffects of Swedish massage that you might experience. If you ever feel concerned or unsure about how you feel after a massage then please feel free to contact me and we can have a chat. Its normal to be unsure of how you are feeling after a massage, especially if it’s a new experience for you.

Should I talk to my therapist during my massage?

As I always say to my clients when they come in for a massage, this is your time! I will take your lead during your massage, so if you would like to chat then that’s totally fine by me! but don’t ever feel that you need to make conversation if you would rather just switch off and enjoy the treatment. I want you to be totally comfortable during your massage so I encourage all of my clients to let me know during their treatment if they need anything altered such as: the level of pressure, the temperature of the room, the position you are lying in, the choice or level of music being played, or you forgot to mention something during our consultation that you realise might be important.

How many massage sessions will I need and how often?

Massage should never be a one size fits all approach. Everyone has a different reason for seeking massage, and a different goal to reach. From your first session we will discuss what your goals are and then decide on a reasonable number and frequency of sessions required to reach your goal. Your goal can be rooted in improving mental or physical health or a mixture of both. You may have come for rehabilitation from injury, or want to improve chronic lower back pain, alternatively you may be experiencing lack of sleep due to stress and anxiety. You might simply want a relaxing massage now and then to take time out from the stresses of life. Everyone has different priorities, and I might see you as a client every two weeks, or every few months, both are completely fine! It’s about what works for you and what you want to get out of massage. As your massage therapist I am here to support you on your health and wellbeing journey, and I fully appreciate that this journey is unique to every person that comes through my door.

So there you have it - WHY you need a massage is to help you feel good - to get relief from pain and tension, to support good mental health and offer support from other medical conditions you may have. I hope we have answered the other questions you might have too. - but if there is anything we have forgotten just drop us a message.


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