Massage therapists manipulate, press and rub the muscles and soft tissues of the body in order to help relieve stress, tension and pain. A good massage therapist should be fully trained and use their skills to help people with sports injuries, provide relief to people with long-term health conditions and to help stressed or anxious people with relaxation.
Different Styles of Massage
There are many different massage styles such as; Shiatsu, Thai, Lomi Lomi, Reflexology, Hot Stone massage, etc. but when we talk about massage therapy we usually mean Swedish massage. If you have never had a massage before Swedish massage is a good style to start with.
A Typical Session
A typical full-body massage session will normally last for around one hour. Not to worry if you don't have an hour, many massage therapists will offer shorter sessions for treating specific areas such as pain in the back, shoulders, head and neck or any other areas which are giving discomfort, aches and pains. You may consider shorter massage therapy sessions if you are on your lunch break and need a quick stress reliever.
During the initial consultation between the therapist and client, the client will be asked a number of questions concerning their general well-being, injuries and any medical conditions that the therapist should know about.
A good therapist will always ask these questions in order to determine if there are any contra-indications (physical conditions that could prohibit or limit a massage treatment).
The therapist will usually need to ask the client to undress, this will be to the client’s level of comfort/modesty. Once the therapist has access to the area being treated they will ask the client to position themselves comfortably on the treatment couch, the therapist will usually cover the client with a sheet or large towel.
The massage therapist will use long smooth strokes, circular movements, kneading or tapping actions on superficial layers of muscle using a massage lotion or oil. The aim of Swedish massage is the removal of toxins from the clients muscles by improving circulation and increasing flow of oxygen into the clients blood stream. During the session, the therapist may move the sheet to expose only those parts of the body to which treatment is being applied. No body part or area should ever be massaged without the client's permission.
Oils and Lotions
Massage oils, lotions, creams and talc may be used during the session; oil is the most common. A good massage oil will nourish the skin and allow free-flowing movement as it allows the therapists hands to glide over the area being treated. The therapist will sense responses but will also ask the client about the strength of their touch. Swedish massage therapy is meant to be gentle and relaxing but sometimes there may be some discomfort during the session. If in discomfort or hurting, the client should feel free to ask the therapist to adjust their treatment technique.
Environment is important in order for the client to feel relaxed. The room should be warm and peaceful, low-level lighting, soft music and a pleasing aroma all add to the massage therapy effect.
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