You may have gone for one before, but how much do you know about the art of massage therapy? Many think that massage involves the rubbing and kneading of your body to relieve tension or pain. Well, it is, in fact, way more than just that!
In this comprehensive guide, you will learn more about the types of massage available globally, the history behind each of them, and the many benefits they provide. Or, if you are looking to find the best massages in Singapore, you may want to refer to this massage ranking.
Table of contents
Massage Therapy: What is It?
Picture this—you’ve just spent a whole day on holiday in Thailand walking around and seeing the sights. Your legs are killing you, and you’re desperately in need of some tension relief. Where’s the first place you’ll think of going to remedy this? That’s right! A massage parlour.
The act of body massage manipulates the soft tissue in your body, like your muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints, to give you some much-needed relief. Its main benefit is alleviating the discomfort associated with lifestyle stresses and work or body tension from sports.
Categorised into different groups, here are two of the most common and fundamental types of massage:
The most common form of massage you’ll see available at massage parlours is a form of relaxation massage that often involves smooth and gliding strokes. This is the perfect massage for loosening up your body and de-stressing your mind, and many crave it after a busy and hard-working week!
If you’re interested in some much needed R&R, you can find this style of massage in spas, wellness centres, and resorts. Just ask for a Swedish Massage!
Exclusively found in clinics, hospitals, and specialised rehabilitation clinics, this form of massage is solely for musculoskeletal rehabilitation. It helps reduce chronic pain and provide rehabilitation for stroke patients.
If you wish to get this massage, ask for a Deep Tissue Massage or Chiropractic ones (in specialised clinics).
Benefits of Massage: More Than Just A Relaxing Time
1. Relieve Headaches
There are two approaches to relieving headaches. The first approach is comfort. If you were to experience a migraine or tension in the head, massage could ease the pressure. When your therapist focuses on your neck, shoulders, and head, it relieves the frequency and severity of the tension you feel from headaches.
The second approach is proactive. This massage maintains an optimal level of relaxation to help your body and reduces the chances of headaches by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points.
2. Boost Immunity
During a massage, the lymphocytes (otherwise known as your white blood cells) in your body increase. If you didn’t know already, these blood cells play a critical role in defending your body from diseases and lower your cytokines to reduce possible chances of inflammation.
When your body’s inflammation levels decrease, the lymphocytes will prevent conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Additionally, massage improves the immune function of individuals who have HIV.
3. Stimulate Digestion
Getting a full-body massage gives a helping hand to your body to rid it of toxins and increase the release of enzymes, both of which are essential in healthy digestion. Furthermore, massage stimulates your intestine’s motion and the contents within it, preventing peristalsis.
Digestion speeds up during the massage, preventing constipation, bloating and abdominal pain. Hence, if you are facing digestive problems, we’d recommend treating yourself to a massage day.
4. Reduce Pain
After strenuous exercise, inflammation occurs in your skeletal muscle, damaging it and causing pain. Massage reduces inflammation and provides pain relief (especially in your lower back and neck) by acting as an anti-inflammatory medication of sorts to make your swelling go down.
Research also shows that massage therapy helps cancer patients relieve short-term pain, promote relaxation, and boost mood.
When to Avoid Massage Therapy
If you suffer from any health conditions or disorders, do be careful when going for massage therapy. There are certain instances where massage can harm your health instead of the other way round.
With that being said, if you have any of these conditions, you should avoid taking a massage:
1. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common medical condition to have, even among teenagers. With plaque buildup in blood arteries, a small amount of pressure can break it and worsen your health.
If you were to go for a massage and your therapist overexerts the pressure on your back, breaking your plaque, the blood clots will be released into your body systems and parts. Although the risk is not high, the blood clots have the potential to travel to your brain or heart and worsen the condition. If they move towards your lungs, the blood clots will damage them as well.
Many people do not know that they have this condition, so it is important to go for regular health checkups and understand your health before going for any service that could be detrimental.
2. Skin with Infections or Burns
If you have any infections (such as ringworm and herpes cold sores), burns or wounds, do not book a massage session until your skin’s all healed.
Although therapists will make it a point to avoid touching parts of your body that have visible wounds, there is a huge possibility that the massage may push your infection from one place to other parts of your body.
Yes, it is best to avoid getting a massage if you’re experiencing a fever, as it might worsen.
Massage does boost your immune system and relieve your tension, but when your body is still actively doing its job to fight off bacteria or viruses, the massage might aggravate it instead. During a massage, your blood circulation increases, leading to a rise in your body temperature and fluids circulate faster around your body.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer (especially bone cancer), it is advisable to avoid going for massage treatments.
Cancer cells are highly likely to be spread around your body due to increased lymphatic activity from massage therapies. Patients who are undergoing the process of radiation and chemotherapy should strictly avoid massage treatments too.
If you’ve ever fractured or broken your bones, they may turn porous, brittle and fragile. Massage with light pressure may be intense for people suffering from this condition, especially when your bones have weakened to the extent of breaking easily.
Many older adults enjoy going for massages without realising the harm it would cause their bones. If your parents or grandparents do this, do inform them of the dangers should you have to.
History of Massage: Throwback To 5,000 Years Ago
Massage existed thousands of years ago due to ancient cultures that discovered medical benefits. Although times have changed and many things have since improved, the art of massage remains the same.
China: Traditional Chinese Medicine
Based on research, China was the first country to record massage therapies back in 2700 BCE. The first book, named “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine” or “Huangdi Neijing”, became the source of many therapists’ training. The first therapies discovered were Acupuncture, Acupressure and Herbology in 1949.
The next recorded instance of massage therapy came from Egypt in 2500 BCE; Egyptians painted their tombs with evidence of massage as part of their medical traditions. Unlike China, the Egyptians preferred pioneering reflexology.
The first known written massage therapy stemmed from India. There, they used the art of healing touch in the practice of Ayurvedic medicine, meaning “life health”. Ayurvedic refers to a combination of holistic medicine, combining meditation, relaxation, and aromatherapy.
How To Give Yourself A Massage
Are you feeling some knots on your neck or body? Give yourself some TLC and massage yourself. Here are self-care techniques that can help you relax and soothe your tense muscles.
#TipsForEveryone????: Dim your light and light a candle to create a relaxing atmosphere at home. ????
Talk about a massage on the go. If you’re travelling to work and feeling lethargic due to the lack of sleep the previous night, not to worry! You can perform this massage anywhere for instant relief!
Place the heel of your palms on either side of your head, near your temples. Push up, hold it there for a few seconds, and then release.
Work in all the sections of your scalp repeatedly, and you will feel revitalised!
Here’s one for the acute migraine and headache sufferers. Instead of popping that pill, try doing a face massage to relieve your pain.
All you need to do is use your fingertips to draw little circles lightly along your hairline, cheekbones, above your eyebrows, and jaw. Once done, move to your ears and earlobes and gently rub them.
If your job requires you to do some heavy lifting or if you’re a chronic shopper, this is the perfect massage to soothe those aching arms.
Relax your arm and place your palm on top of your thigh. Push the heel of your other palm slowly along your forearm in the direction of your wrist. Use pressure until you start to feel some heat. Repeat a few times and switch hands.