While the magic can't be measured scientifically researchers have proven that massage therapy provides several significant health benefits including improved blood circulation, improved sleep, deep muscle relaxation and increased range of motion. Massage has also been shown to alter the body’s ‘chemical soup’ by stimulating the release of endorphins, our ‘feel good’ hormones. In today’s frenetically paced society stress is almost impossible to escape. As a result, our body’s stress or “fight or flight” response is constantly being activated to deal with daily stressors. A little bit of stress keeps us focused and alert but beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts wreaking havoc, causing significant damage to our health, our moods, our productivity levels, our relationships, and our quality of life.
Massage is proven to put the body back into a “rest and digest” response that allows it to regenerate itself, digest food, absorb nutrients and speed up the elimination of toxins. Breathing becomes deep. Heart rate slows down. Pain levels decrease. Anxiety loses its hold.
The beauty is that you don’t need to be a massage therapist to give a good massage. You can use these simple touch techniques at home to help soothe and relax your friends and loved ones...
- Use a comfortable, but not too soft, surface, whether it's a mat on the floor, or a bed.
- Drape a sheet or towel over the surface to absorb any stray oil.
- Make sure your partner is warm by covering the areas not being massaged with a towel or blanket.
- Setting the scene in a dimly lit room with soothing music can create a nurturing atmosphere and enhance the experience.
- For a wonderfully indulgent massage you can use aromatherapy oils (oils distilled from aromatic plants). The intense aromas and potent therapeutic benefits of essential oils like lavender, clary sage, geranium and chamomile have been used for thousands of years to induce relaxation and ease muscular tension.
- Breathing is an important component of relaxation so encourage your loved one to breathe deeply throughout the massage.
A simple home routine:
Due to stress and poor posture the back and neck are major hot spots so we’ve included a simple home routine to help ease your loved one’s tension...
- Position your loved one lying face down with their head turned to one side.
- Warm a little oil in your hands and apply to the back. Apply just enough to lubricate the skin without making it slippery.
- Start the massage at the lower back with broad sweeping strokes up the middle of the back along either side of the spine and into the neck. You can let your hands criss-cross over themselves at the hips. This stroke stimulates circulation and spreads the oil. Take care not to massage directly on the spine.
- Starting again at the lower back use your fingertips (keeping them together) to glide up the curve of the back and into the neck. Do this a few times, increasing your pressure with subsequent strokes.
- Finish the final stroke at the base of your partner’s neck and let your hands fan out across the shoulders. Curve your hands around the top of the shoulders and pull down gently towards the hips. This produces a lovely neck stretch. Repeat this sequence a few times.
- Then, starting at the sacral area, push your thumbs gently into the muscles on either side of the spine making small circular movements as you work your way up into the base of the neck. Now concentrate on the muscles of the neck and top of the shoulders by squeezing and kneading. Use your thumb to stroke from the shoulder to the base of the skull and back again. Do this several times on each side focusing on any areas of tension you might find.
- Finish the massage with several broad sweeping strokes from the neck down to the lower back and up again, with the last stroke going lightly over and off the head. Ask your loved one take a deep breath.
- To ground your loved one after the massage, place one palm on their lower back and the other on the base of their neck. Rock their hips from side to side for a few seconds. Then be still for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times. This quiet hold, together with gentle rocking motion, brings your loved on back into balance and encourages deep relaxation.
A few basic precautions to note:
- As a general precaution an untrained person should only massage someone in good health. Do not massage anyone with an acute infection, fever or heart condition.
- Never massage directly over the spine.
- Reduce pressure over bony areas.
- Never work over bruises, open sores, varicose veins, areas of acute pain or inflammation, skin rashes or infections.
- Aromatherapy oils have potent chemical properties and should be used with care. If you’re pregnant or suffer from any serious illnesses or allergies and are planning on giving or receiving a massage seek advice from an aromatherapist before using essential oils. And remember that these should always be blended with a carrier oil such as Coconut, Sweet Almond, Rose Hip or Olive Oil.
- After receiving a massage remember to drink lots of water to flush away freed toxins.
- For acute or chronic pain seek advice from a professional.
Feelgood Health has recently introduced a range of aromatherapy products with wonderful therapeutic benefits. Try one of our therapeutic massage oils to enhance your home massage.