Today, almost every industry is driven by consumer needs and wants, be it the automobile or tech. Gone are the days when companies would produce some commodity in bulk and try to push their products with aggressive promotional strategies. Today, everyone focuses on making what can sell, rather than selling what is made. The service sector is no different either. The massage industry has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, and the mammoth industry today is an amalgamation of various massage therapy principles from all around the globe.
While the practice of massage can be traced to the ancient religious scriptures, manuscripts from civilizations like the Roman, Indus Valley, Mesopotamian, Chinese, which often link the practice of massage therapy closely to religious learnings and healing therapies, today's modern-day massage principles have developed on these principles with the help of cutting edge scientific research. No matter what your profession is, what your gender is, what your age is, what your health problems are, there is probably a massage therapy that suits you perfectly for you.
There is no one concrete answer as to how the term massage came into existence. Some argue that the word was derived from the French word Massage meaning "friction of kneading", which, in turn, comes from the Arabic word Massa meaning to touch and feel. Another group of people claim to trace back its origins to the Portuguese word amassar which means to knead. A third group believes the Greek word Massa which means mass/dough is the original word, give rise to the word masso which means "to handle, work with hands, to knead dough".
Some common massage therapies:
Acupressure is one of the most common massage therapies which is based on the concept of energy that flows through the "meridians" throughout the body. The therapists extensively study the points or the Acupuncture points, the stimulation of which is expected to clear the blockages of the body. It can be stimulated by palm, elbows or even toes.
Aquatic bodywork is a massage therapy which is a form of bodywork performed in water. It can be done in pools and covers a lot of areas like the Aquatic Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial Release etc.
Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage therapy which is derived from the word ashi meaning foot. This therapy is focused on the plantar surface of the foot and uses techniques like compression, tension, elbow pressure for stimulation.
The Indian Ayurvedic massage is based on the practice of Abhyangam and seeks to restore the balance of the various elements and systems of the body.
The Burmese massage uses natural local ingredients from Burma like Thanaka, which is mainly focused on the layers of the skin.
Biodynamic Massage is a massage form which uses a combination of hands-on work and energy stimulation work.
Craniosacral massage therapy generally seeks to stimulate and enhance the movement of fluids and cranial bone motion by apply light touches on the face, skull, spine and pelvis.
A Biomechanical Stimulation(BMS) is a more advance form of massage therapy, generally used for localised biomechanical oscillation methods, which stimulates local muscle groups or the muscles attached to the tendons through hand movements or even specialized mechanical vibration equipment.
Lomi Lomi is a famous massage technique from Hawaii which uses a distinct technique to stimulate the muscle tissues.
Lymphatic drainage is a technique used to cure localised swelling of the muscles. It stimulates the lymphatic system and helps the body flush out the cellular waste after filtration.
Reflexology or Zone therapy is another comment massage therapy which uses "zones" of the body and stimulates them with the application of feet and hands, thumbs and fingers without any usage of oils.
Shiatsu is a massage therapy technique that is a type of alternative medicine that uses fingers and palm pressure, stretching and other techniques to stimulate the various pressure points of the body.
A sports massage is specific to athletes and aims to improve recovery, prepare the sportspersons before an event and even detoxify the body after an event.
Structural integration massage therapy aims to unwind the strain patterns of the body's myofascial system to restore the balance in terms of alignment, length, and ease.
The most common massage therapy that is widely known is the Swedish or the Classic massage. This gentle form of massage therapy uses mainly 5 types of massage techniques- Effleurage(sliding and gliding movements), Petrissage(kneading), tapotement(rhythmic tapping), friction and vibration.
The Thai Massage or Nuat Phaen Thai is the massage therapy where no oils are used and the therapy solely relies on the integration of the principles of Indian Ayurveda, Yoga and Acupuncture.
The deep tissue massage is a more intense form of massage that relies on deep strokes that go beyond the superficial layers of the skin and helps in the manipulation of the muscle tissues.
The traditional Chinese Massage or Qigong Massage uses various therapies like cavity pressing, pushing and grasping massage, energy point massage to stimulate various parts of the body.
The trigger point massage involves deactivating various trigger points of the body that may cause pain, headaches. Techniques like manual pressure, vibration are often used.
The Turkish Bath massage in various muscle kneading and joint cracking techniques.
Watsu is another form of massage therapy where an aquatic bodywork is performed in a room temperature water body and includes various techniques like rocking, stretching of limbs. It also combines hydrotherapy floating and immersion with Shiatsu treatments.
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Factors to keep in mind before a massage:
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Before deciding on the perfect time for a body massage, there are a few factors every client should keep in mind.
The first and most obvious point is that no two bodies are the same. Our lifestyle, work ethics, movements, diet and body conditions are never the same. Hence, blindly trusting someone other than a therapist is not the way to go. If therapy has worked for someone, it does not mean the same thing works for you.
The second point is all about privacy. Your privacy is always your call. Whether you will be without clothes for certain massage therapies or not is completely up to you. The point is to communicate it with your masseur beforehand.
It is extremely important to breathe throughout the massage therapy session. This happens especially when the masseur is going over the tight areas of the body, we often tend to be nervous. The key is to keep breathing normally throughout.
Hydration before and after a massage is key, not just for detoxification, but also providing enough fluids for the muscle fibres which have undergone a lot of manipulation throughout the body massage session.
Scheduling your massage therapy is a factor that one should keep in mind. Check for deadlines, any sort of engagement or event and schedule your massage accordingly.
One should also avoid eating right before the massage as it tends to be uncomfortable.
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The best time for a massage:
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The first factor that a client should keep in mind is that there is no concrete answer to what is the best time for a massage. Schedule a massage strategically is the most important factor here. The key is to select a time slot when you know you will have time to relax right after the massage. While it is extremely tempting to jump right back into your gruelling schedule just as you are done with your massage session, since your body feels light and supple, you should take time out for your body to recover for the hard strokes, the tissue manipulations. A fully recovered body has way more benefits that an overworked body right after the massage. That being said, it depends on your daily schedule. Many people find mornings suitable as they have some free time right after the massage. The evening is perfect for people who are done with their work. Cut short, just any time is good for a massage. It all boils down to your goals, your lifestyle, your routine.
Some therapists also suggest that one should keep track of a light injury and recommends a massage right before the pain kicks in. This prevents the pain and helps the body to fight the pain by flushing out the toxins.
A good body massage before a big meeting is also a good way to go. The massage helps the body to relax and often takes care of the stress to perform. A de-stressed body always guarantees better performance.
When you are trying to get creative with some form of assignment or art, a body massage is often recommended to free the mind and grasp new ideas and insights.
That being said, there are some big NOs when it comes to massage timing. The first factor is an acute injury. If you have a sharp, traumatic injury, just do not run off to a massage centre. More often or not, the massage therapist might not understand the graveness of the injury based on your words, and that might be disastrous. Get the help of a doctor and allow them to recommend you a massage. As a general rule of thumb, avoid any massage within 72 hours of suffering from a serious injury.
Another key factor in deciding the massage time is you have a fever or any other sickness. It is the time when your body is fighting off some form of a virus or a cold or flu. The intense massage session might just make things worse.
If you are hungover, a massage is a no-no. The science behind this is that drinking alcohol expands the blood vessels in the body and the massage can act as a strong stimulus, which may worsen the situation.
Particularly for a sports massage, an athlete has various times when they can opt for a sports massage.
One form of the sports massage is the pre-event massage which is generally given some days or even some hours before the event starts. These are often done to warm up the muscles and prepare them for the big event. Various forms of techniques are performed to reduce muscle tension and help the muscles relax.
Another one is the post-event sports massage which is right after an event. These are generally light to prevent any additional injury to the already overworked muscles and often seeks to flush out the toxins that deposit in the body after the event.
Athletes also prefer a regular maintenance massage throughout their practice season to ensure that their bodies are detoxified regularly to ensure peak performance.
Pregnancy and timing:
Generally, women can opt for a light massage during their labour time to relax the body and reduce some burden on the muscle groups. They are generally safe to have a massage during any time of the labour period. However, many prenatal massage therapists refuse to massage until the second trimester since the first trimester is a precarious period and is concerned with excess blood circulation. It is always the best option to consult your gynaecologist before a massage session.