What is Massage?
Massage basically refers to the art of kneading and rubbing the body using hands for the purpose of easing pain or tension. Massage therapy has really evolved over the centuries and is believed to be of divine origin.
In East Asian cultures, the practice of using touch has long been in use as a natural healing method. It is also believed that Indians started practicing massage in 3000BC or possibly earlier. Not only does massage relieve pain but it’s also used as a means of healing injuries, preventing, and curing illnesses.
Different massage therapies derived from customs rooted in the East are also used to produce deep relaxation and reduce stress.
How to Massage – Common Massage Therapy Techniques
If you’re new to the world of massage, it can be pretty confusing to navigate all the different types of massage therapy techniques out there. That’s why we came up with the list below to help you decipher the different techniques:
This massage technique is quite basic but very flexible. It’s usually administered in the direction that the blood is flowing. This technique helps the fluids that had been held up at an injury site to disperse and so the swelling comes down. Longitudinal gliding is very helpful in relaxing tight muscles.
There are two types of kneading: thumb kneading and palm kneading. Either of these two parts of the hand is used varying amounts of pressure depending on the tissue that is under treatment. The rate and rhythm of the movement also depend on the purpose of the massage.
This technique involves stretching the fascia for the purpose of balancing the body. The fascia is a seamless connective tissue that is found between the skin and underlies the muscle and bone. It covers and at the same time connects the skeleton, the organs, and the muscles.
The main reason for this type of massage is to restore the fascia tissue after it’s been subjected to stress, trauma, and injury.
Trigger Point Therapy
This technique involves the application of pressure to tender muscles with the aim of relieving pain. It is best suited for people with injuries, chronic pain, or a specific tissue condition.
The massage focuses on relieving tightness at the trigger points which usually cause pain to be felt in other parts of the body. Trigger point therapy is very helpful in managing chronic pain.
Deep Transverse Frictions
This is a transverse connective tissue therapy that is applied using fingers in an oscillating motion following the direction of the tissue fibers. The technique is best suited for tendon or ligament injuries to break down tissue scar. When such scars are not broken down, they cause irritating pain.
Compression massage is used to create a softening effect in tissues. Generally, it’s used to warm up the muscles for a deeper and more specific massage.
When you play a certain sport, it’s very likely that you will suffer from an injury due to the repetitive use of your muscles. A sports massage come in handy to help you prevent such injuries since it increases flexibility and performance.
The massage can either be done on the entire body or just on the specific part of the body that needs the most attention.
Hot Stone Massage
Unlike popular belief, hot stone massage is not only best for people who simply want to relax- it’s also ideal for easing muscle pain and tension.
The massage therapist heats up stones and places them on different parts of the body. The heated stones are used alongside hands. This type of massage improves blood flow, promotes relaxation, eases muscle tension, and relieves pain. Sometimes cold stones are also used.
This kind of therapy is ideal for people who would like to get emotional healing as a part of their massage. Aromatherapy helps reduce symptoms of depression, enhance your mood, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension.
The technique combines soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils depending on your preference. The oils that are rubbed on to your skin have to be diluted beforehand. During the massage, you also inhale essential oils through a diffuser.
This kind of therapy is not recommended for anyone who is sensitive to smell or essential oils.
This kind of massage is ideal for people who want to relax or restore their natural energy levels. Reflexology uses gentle or firm pressure on different pressure points of the feet, hands, and ears. This technique is recommended for people who aren’t very comfortable being touched over their entire body as well as those who wish to remain fully clothed during the procedure.
Shiatsu massage is a Japanese type of massage that promotes emotional and physical relaxation. It’s recommended for people who want to feel relaxed and relieve stress, pain, depression, and muscle tension.
The Shiatsu Massage works on the whole body but the massage therapist may focus on specific areas of the body that need extra attention. He/she will use his/her hands, palms, and thumbs to massage the body.
Thai massage is considered to be a form of “active massage” and is ideal for people who want to reduce stress and relieve pain. It’s also used to improve flexibility, circulation, and energy levels.
During the massage, expect to be stretched and twisted into various positions by the therapist.
This is best for pregnant women as it helps reduce body aches associated with pregnancy. Prenatal massage is safe for all stages of the pregnancy although one has to be very careful when massaging women in their first trimester as there’s a high risk of miscarriage at this time.
The therapist focuses on the lower back, the hips, and the legs. During the massage, you can either lie on your side or facing downwards on a specifically designed table with a cutout for your belly.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is usually quite intense since it uses a considerable amount of pressure. It’s recommended for people who have chronic muscle problems, such as soreness, injury, or imbalance. The massage helps relieve tight muscles, chronic muscle pain, and anxiety.
The massage therapist uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues.
The Swedish massage is a gentle type of massage that works the entire body. It is ideal for people who are new to massage and just want to relax, those who are sensitive to touch, and those who want to manage minor pain.
The techniques used are a combination of kneading, friction, vibration, effleurage, percussion, tapping, long flowing strokes in the direction of the heart, deep circular motions, and passive joint movement techniques.
For the Swedish massage, you will lie down on the massage table, naked. You may choose to remove all your clothes or keep your underwear on. The therapist moves the sheet that is used to cover you as he/she works on the necessary areas.
The different between Swedish massage and Tissue massage
A couple’s massage may be done with a lover, a friend, or a family member in the same room. Some of the additional benefits you get may as part of the package include pedicures, facials, body scrubs, access to the saunas, and hot tubs.
It’s possible for you and your partner to receive different types of massage depending on your personal preference. However, you will both be on tables that are side by side with different therapists working on you.
How to Massage Different Parts Of The Body
There are different ways in which you may soothe achy muscles in different parts of the body. In this section, we’ll look at the different ways in which you may massage select body parts whenever you feel sore or need to relax:
How to massage the Neck
Neck pain is usually brought about by stress. When a person is stressed, they tend to hunch forward and raise the shoulders towards the ears. This puts a strain on the back of the neck. A gentle neck massage may be used to relieve these symptoms. Here’s how to go about it:
- Ensure that your nails are short so that you’re able to use your fingertips without scratching.
- While the person receiving the massage faces up on the massage table, cup the base of their scalp with one hand and gently rotate it as you move the hand upwards. At the same time, run the palm of the other hand down his/her neck into the area where the neck meets the shoulder.
- Alternate the hands and repeat about 5 times. All this while, ensure that your hands are well lubricated
- Again, fold both your hands into loose fists and place each one of them on either side of the neck near the base of the skull. Rotate your wrists forward as you move your hands towards the shoulders. Later rotate the direction of the rotation and move your hands towards the base of the skull.
- Lastly, place the tips of your fingers at the base of the neck and make circular motions as you move your hands up towards the skull.
How to Massage the Feet
Foot massages help you to relax and also relieves muscle aches.
- To get the feet warmed up, place your palms on either side of the foot and gently do a twisting motion. Push the right side of the foot forward while pushing the left side backward. Reverse the directions as you keep working from the ankles to the toes.
- Bend the toes back and forth gently to encourage flexibility in the foot. With time, increase the pressure used to flex the toes to their full range of motion. Use your fingers to twist, tug, and pull each toe gently as you move from the outer toes to the inner toes.
- To relieve tension at the back of the foot, gently squeeze the heel and release it in repetitive motions.
- Use either your knuckles, thumbs, or fist to massage the entire foot starting from the toe pad to the heel
- Finally, use the top and side circling technique to finish up the massage. Use both hands to support the foot from below then extend your fingers and use them to make circles around both sides of the ankle.
How to Massage the Back
Back massages are very therapeutic and relaxing.
- Before you get started, ensure that you choose a comfortable spot first. It should be sturdy enough complete with a face cradle for alignment of the spine. The room should be warm which will help the person feel relaxed. If possible, play some calming music coupled with scented aromatherapy candles.
- Pour massage oil in the palm of your hand and then spread it around the person’s back using light strokes.
- Use your hands and work from the bottom of the back as move upward towards the heart and in the direction of the blood flow.
- Use the kneading technique in circular motions, with more pressure to enhance deeper circulation.
- Make sure that you don’t leave out the muscles on either side of the spine. However, be very careful not to massage the spine directly especially if you’re not trained properly- it can be uncomfortable and very dangerous.
How to massage the lower back
Some activities that may cause the lower back muscles to tighten include lifting heavy objects or sitting at the same spot for prolonged periods. A good massage can help loosen the tight muscles and alleviate the discomfort. Here’s how you perform a lower back massage:
- Place your hands flat on the person’s lower back near the hips and move them upwards firmly towards the middle back. Lift your hands and start again at the lower back. Make sure that you only apply pressure on the muscles and not on the spine or the hip bones.
- Use the heels of your hands to apply pressure at the bottom of the person’s spine, near the hips. Move the hands upwards in a circular motion as you apply pressure on either side of the spine.
- Using your fingers, press from the center of the spine, outwards towards the hips. This will help to massage the tightness out of the tops of the gluteus muscles that cause lower back pain.
- Slide your thumbs along the long muscles beside the spine. Do this in an upward motion and stop at the middle back
- Again, use your thumb to relieve pressure at the specific spots where the pain is coming from. Firmly apply pressure on the sore areas; make tiny circular movements in the muscle to help loosen it.
How to Massage the Shoulders
Slouching forward makes your shoulder muscles to get tight. To massage the shoulders:
- Always make sure that your shoulders are dropped and that they’re not hunched up by the ears.
- Slowly tuck in your chin into your chest then stretch your neck.
- Place two or three fingers on the back of the neck where your neck and shoulders meet.
- Press firmly and hold. Release once the muscle feels more relaxed.
- Lastly, slowly roll your shoulders forward and back slowly. Repeat this step as many times as needed.
How to Massage the Face
Your facial muscles get a major work out from daily movements like smiling, frowning, and chewing.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for a great facial massage:
- Before you get started, ensure that you clean, cleanse, and steam your face. This will soften the pores so that the products you use are absorbed better.
- Press your fingers between the brows and slide up the forehead. Repeat this motion until you have covered the entire area in-between.
- Use your fingertips to massage the center of your face and work towards your cheeks all the way to your ears.
- Incorporate the up-and-out motion across your jawline and repeat as many times as you may need.
- Lastly, gently rub the ears and earlobes between your fingertips.
Massaging the Full Body – What are The Benefits?
A full body massage not only relaxes you and leaves you feeling energized but also keeps the body working at optimal levels. Receiving a massage is good for the mind, body, and soul. A 10-minute rub down will leave you feeling invigorated and will help with blood flow.
While massaging the entire body, start at the head, work all the way down to the face, neck, shoulders, hands, fingers, thighs, feet, and toes. With a bit of soothing oils, use your palms to gently glide over the entire body and repeat a couple of times
A full body massage has more benefits than most of us actually realize. Some of these benefits are:
- Keeps people well- both physically and emotionally.
- Fights chronic muscle pain and tenderness; a condition commonly known as fibromyalgia.
- Improves the mood by lowering the body’s level of cortisol (a stress hormone) and increasing the feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine).
- Increases flexibility especially for athletes who are constantly putting pressure on their muscles.
- Lowers blood pressure which would otherwise lead to a stroke.
And finally, for dogs lovers, who want to share this beautiful practice with their dogs, this section is for you 🙂
How To Massage a Dog
It’s very important to give your pet dog a “maintenance” massage every once in a while. Such a massage can add to the length and quality of your pet’s life.
It’s quite simple actually:
- Use hour hands to slowly touch all the parts of the dog’s body. The dog will really enjoy the “petting”
- Pay attention to all the layers through the hair, to the skin, fat, muscle, and bone.
- Wrap your hands around each leg and squeeze gently. This is incredibly important to the dog’s ability to run and play
- Always pay extra attention to the dog’s ears as this will help the dog combat overall fatigue and stress levels.
- Massage the back of the dog to combat restlessness and hyperactivity. It also improves stomach health and increases skin elasticity.
- If your dog suffers from indigestion, focus your massage on the belly to help the muscles here relax. This will really help cut down on gas and bloating.
- Lastly, massage the dog’s paws. The paws are very sensitive and are directly connected to other different parts of the body.
Sensual Massage- Massage Techniques For Couples
Couples that include sensual massage techniques into their intimate activities report the most satisfying sex life. Apart from the massage helping the participants relax, it adds to the arousal while providing exciting changes in lovemaking. We’ll have a look at three common sensual massage techniques:
For this to happen, make sure that you’re in a warm room since you’re both required to be naked. the lighting should also be low and flattering. If possible, play some relaxing music in the background. The touching should be gentle and almost tickling. While men should concentrate on the breasts and the clitoris, women should concentrate on the area around the penis. Other areas worth focusing on are buttocks and inner thighs.
This technique is the tantric version of sensual massage that is offered to men. In Sanskrit, lingam is used to refer to the male sex organ. The main purpose of this type of massage is not to achieve orgasm; it’s meant to relax the man by massaging the prostate. Penis, and testicles.
The man lays down on his back facing up, with his legs spread and slightly bent. While being massaged, he should continue breathing deeply and stay relaxed. He should try as much as possible to hold back from ejaculating to extend the sensual pleasure derived from this massage.
Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina. Yoni massage is aimed at helping women relax and serves as an alternative safe sex technique. This technique is also aimed at giving the woman pleasure.
The woman lies on her back with legs spread out and bent at the knees. She should keep breathing deeply throughout the entire process. Use a small amount of oil to massage the vaginal area and inner thighs.
Sensual Couple’s massage Do’s and Don’ts
- Do take it slow, this helps you gain your partner’s trust.
- Do ask for feedback as you carry on.
- Do give encouraging feedback if you’re the one getting the massage.
- Don’t use your thumbs. Use your open hands or just the fingertips.
- Don’t squirt oil directly from the bottle onto the body. Instead, squirt it on one of your hands, rub your palms together and apply on the body.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the ambiance. Set up the mood with good music and proper lighting
Basic Supplies For Massage Parlors
A massage therapist requires quite a number of equipment to carry out a massage. Some of the equipment, tools, and other requirements include:
- Massage tables, chairs, and mats
- Essential oils and natural herbs
- Massage cream
- Music and books
- Electric massager
- Topical pain relievers
- Covers, sheets, blankets, and pillows
- Carts and portable cabinets for storage purposes
- Disposable clothes for clients such as panties, bras, and boxers
- Medical scrubs to be worn by the masseuse
- Hand sanitizers
- Detergents and cleaning supplies
- Massage anatomic chart
- Hot stone and heating device
- Proof of training
Massages are really good for stress since they enhance your overall relaxation and significantly reduce feelings of anxiety. Tight muscles can also be loosened by massaging them. Deep tissue massage is best recommended for tight muscles; it helps loosen the muscles and decreases the pain being experienced.
After your massage is done, you’ll feel quite relaxed. Drink plenty of water after, grab a snack for an energy boost, ice any sore areas that feel a little tender, take a bath and rest. doing all this will help you hand on for longer to that post-massage feeling.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that massages do not release any toxins. Massage only de-stress the body but don’t detoxify it. If you experience any symptoms after a massage, they most probably have nothing to do with the actual massage