The body to improve circulation, relieve pain and tenderness, reduce stress, increase flexibility and relax the whole body by targeting the skeletal, circulatory, muscular, lymphatic, and nervous systems. The overarching aim of massage is to help promote general wellness with healing touch.
SKILLS OF A MASSAGE THERAPIST
Massage therapists are well-trained to manipulate the soft tissue of the body to treat a variety of conditions by using touch with sensitivity to discern the optimal amount and degree of pressure and movement to apply on each client. Using too little or too much pressure may have a limited therapeutic effect or cause the body to tense up. A sensitive touch will allow the therapist to skilfully ‘feel’ their way around a person’s body and locate areas of tension and pain while ensuring the client remains relaxed and receptive to the therapy.
In addition to providing massage treatment, massage therapists assess each client to create an individualised treatment plan. They are well-trained to perform musculoskeletal assessments, monitor and evaluate treatments, advice on injury prevention and treatment, and adapt remedial massage practice to meet each client’s specific needs. Furthermore, they have strong communication and interpersonal skills, enabling them to establish and manage relationships with a diverse client population and to engage with other health professionals in order to maximise positive client outcomes.
POPULAR MASSAGE TECHNIQUES
If you’ve ever been for a massage you may have noticed that there are many different massage styles. For example, some massage therapists use long smooth strokes to relax the body while others use oils and stones to alleviate tension and pain. The length of massage can also vary, as can the amount of pressure applied by the therapist. Before deciding which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself what the purpose of the massage is. Are you wanting a massage to relax and help alleviate stress or do you have a specific injury or health condition that requires symptom relief? The answer to this question will help the massage therapist decide which technique is best for you based on your current wants and needs as well as allow them to customise your massage according to your age, injury and medical history. Some of the more popular types of massage therapy include:
- Reflexology: Based on the principle that there are reflex points in our hands, feet, face and ears which respond to pressure, promoting relaxation and stimulating the body’s own natural healing process.
- Swedish massage: The use of five specialised gentle techniques that target the upper layers of muscles to relieve tension, relax the body and increase flexibility.
- Shiatsu: An Oriental massage technique using varying rhythmic pressure that aims to improve vital energy flow called qi.
- Hot stone therapy: The use of hot volcanic rocks (heat-retaining basalt stones) placed on key body points such as the back, stomach and face combined with regular massage techniques to increase circulation, loosen muscles and ease tension.
- Pregnancy massage: A complementary form of prenatal care that helps relieve the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy such as swelling in the arms and legs, backaches and joint pain.
- Trigger point massage: Focuses on locating muscle knots (trigger sites) caused by acute, sustained and repetitive muscle overloads and applying direct pressure for symptom relief.
- Lymphatic drainage: A gentle, rhythmic whole-body treatment that stimulates and detoxifies the lymphatic system, relaxes the nervous system and generally aids the body’s immune system