The Body Massage and How The Right Kind Can Recharge Your System

Are life’s stresses getting you down? Do you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Feel like screaming and tearing all your hair out? Take it easy, there’s no need to worry. There’s nothing that a good body massage can’t fix.

You heard right. When you’re feeling a bit too overwhelmed, head over to a trusted massage parlor or spa and have a professional sort you out.

Kinds of Body Massage

There are numerous types of body massages, each with varied effects and goals. Below are some of the most popular ones.

Swedish Massage

This is probably the best-known body massage. One of its primary goals is to relax the entire body. It involves mild, moderate, or deep strokes on the back, arms, legs, neck, and other body parts. This targets tissues and muscles for maximal pain relief, stress release, and ultimately relaxation. The strokes used are in the direction of blood returning to the heart.

Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending, and stretching.

Thai Massage

What differentiates the Thai massage from the others is that there is no oil used, a floor mat is used instead of the regular massage table, and the client remains clothed throughout the massage. This massage is a form of body work that incorporates a traditional combination of point pressure, energy meridian work, and yoga-like stretching. Some people describe the Thai massage as painful, so make sure to instruct your massage therapist on what kind of pressure you prefer before undergoing the massage.

Hot Stone Massage

The hot stone massage promotes deeper muscle relaxation by placing smooth and water-heated stones at key points on the body, or treat the stones as an extension of their own hands.

Don’t worry, the therapists don’t pick any old stones just lying around.  They usually opt for basalt. This is a black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat well and has been smoothed by natural forces in the river or sea. Then the therapist sanitizes the stones and heats them in a bath of 120- to 150-degree water.

These hot stones expand blood vessels. This encourages blood flow throughout the body. The hot stones also have a sedative effect that relieves chronic pain, reduces stress, and promotes overall deep relaxation.  

Shiatsu Massage

This type of body massage hails from Japan. Shiatsu means “finger pressure,” which aptly defines this massage. In this form, pressure with thumbs, hands, elbows, knees, or feet is applied to pressure points all over the body.

The shiatsu massage also focuses on rotating as well as stretching limbs, joints, and pressure points. It is also considered as a complete health care system, which works with the body’s own resources.

This body massage works with the whole person and doesn’t simply focus on conditions. Even babies and the elderly can experience and benefit from a good shiatsu massage.

Pregnancy Massage

I understand how uncomfortable and sometimes painful it is when you’re pregnant. That’s why getting a pregnancy massage is a good idea. It’s specifically designed for the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies. Therapists who are trained in prenatal massages make sure to adjust their techniques accordingly. There are areas on a pregnant woman that don’t receive deep or pointed pressure. These areas are the abdomen, insides of the legs, and certain points that promote uterine contraction.

Studies show that this type of body massage is an essential part in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration. However, make sure to inform your therapist how far you are along in your pregnancy so the proper technique will be ministered.

Deep Tissue Massage

This type of body massage is a bit similar to the Swedish massage. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and the protective layer surrounding the joints, muscles, and bones. Firm pressure and slow strokes are used here to reach these deeper layers.

The deep tissue massage breaks up scar tissue and physically breaks down muscle knots or adhesions. These can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, as well as inflammation.

Benefits of a Good Body Massage

There are plenty of wonderful benefits an effective body massage can provide. Here are some of the things you can enjoy while and after getting a body massage.

Improves Mood

Plenty of Americans suffer from mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. And a good body massage is said to be one of the oldest forms of treatment. A massage also provides stress relief for anyone, from preterm babies to the elderly. A moderate-pressure massage also soothes depression, anger, and anxiety. So how does a body massage reduce stress and stress hormones? It increases serotonin, which reduces depression and pain. It also enhances immune function, which reduces depression and pain.

Increases Circulation

If you get regular body massages, one of the long-term effects is better blood circulation. According to Eileen Cahalane of Alive Magazine, “A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Good circulation brings damaged, tense muscles the oxygen rich blood they need to heal.”

A body massage moves blood through the congested areas in the body. The release of pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling motion  flushes lactic acid from the muscles. It also improves the circulation of the lymph fluid. This carries metabolic waste away from the muscles and the internal organs. This results in lower blood pressure and improves body function.

Provides Better Skin

We all know how a good massage stimulates blood flow. Regular gentle rubbing and kneading keeps the face healthy and radiant. A massage  plumps up slack skin, encourages lymphatic drainage, moves toxins out of cells so nutrients can travel in, and also adds vitality to a dull complexion. A full body massage removes dead skin cells over the entire body to improve skin tone. A massage also encourages tissue regeneration, which reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

Ensures Better Sleep

Getting a regular body massage provides better sleep by assisting with circadian rhythms, also known as the body clock. Body massages reduce some of the stress hormone exposure. And during a massage, people go into a deep state of relaxation and rest. This positively affects the body the same way sleep does. And finally, a body massage is an effective natural way to treat insomnia. Massages are known to be very effective at increasing deep sleep.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Having high blood pressure ups the risk of getting a stroke or a heart attack. Body massages are very effective in lowering blood pressure and slowing down heart rates. In addition, regular massage sessions also reduce the risk of cardiac arrhythmias. All these will ensure a healthier heart.

Promotes Good Digestion

Getting regular massages has plenty of benefits to improve the digestive system. They improve the tone of both the large and small intestines; stimulate the peristalsis, which relieves constipation and diarrhea; help in absorbing fat; and has stimulating effects on the digestive organs, which improves digestion. Moreover, massages also reduce cramping, bloating, and excess gas.

Increases Flexibility

Massages work on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. This improves flexibility and range of motion. This also keeps your joints more fluid and makes them less injury prone.

Tips Before Getting a Body Massage

I’m sure you’re now super excited to get those painful muscles sorted out. You probably also have the ideal massage you want to experience in mind. But before you go, keep these tips in mind.

First, before anything else, make sure to consult with your primary health care provider before getting any of these body massages. This especially goes out to those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnant women.

And always keep in mind that you SHOULD NOT eat a heavy meal before a massage.

Next, make sure to make the most of your time slot by coming to the parlor around 10–15 minutes early to change and fill up the necessary forms, if any. That way, you don’t waste a single minute in getting the relaxation you deserve.

You can also use the extra few minutes to talk to your therapist about your likes and dislikes, as well as your medical history. That way, he or she will be able to customize the massage for you for optimum effect.

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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