Massage is a treatment which aims to relax, revive and heal the body. There are many different styles of massage, used to treat a range of emotional and physical health problems. But with so many styles, how do you decide which type is best for you?
A massage can be quite daunting for a first-timer. If you’ve taken the first step to contact a therapist, the next thing is booking a treatment and well, turning up.
So, what exactly is a massage?
A massage is the stroking, kneading, rolling and pressing of the skin and muscles. While there are many different styles of massage, each with different origins and aims, they all have the same idea – in some way, they will make you feel good.
Some styles focus on soothing muscles and reducing pain; others on stress relief, relaxation and increasing energy levels, and some aim to improve specific physical conditions. To decide which one is for you, you will need to know what it is you want to gain from the massage, and investigate further into the different styles. Remember, it’s OK to ask questions.
Some styles of massage include:
- Swedish massage
- deep tissue massage
- Indian head massage
- hot stone massage
- postnatal massage
- remedial massage
- sports massage
Learn more about the different styles of massage, and how they can help.
Now, you may have chosen your massage, spoken to your practitioner and booked a session, but what’s next? How do you prepare for a massage?
Tips to prepare
Ask questions – You may have spoken to the therapist when booking your treatment, but it’s easy to forget to ask what you really want to know. Will it hurt? What do I wear? Do I wear anything?
It’s OK to ask questions – Speak to friends who have had a massage before to calm your nerves and get an idea of what to expect, and speak to the practitioner. They want you to be completely comfortable in your treatment, and ultimate relaxation is key to a successful massage. If you’re nervous, write down all your questions before you call, or send an email.
Generally, it’s advised you avoid large meals or alcohol before treatment, and recommended you drink plenty of water before and after. Also, it is important you tell your therapist prior to the massage if you have any medical conditions, are pregnant or have recently had an injury, some changes may be made to your treatment.
Clothing – What to wear to a massage is a common concern, and one that often puts people off treatment. It’s nerve-wracking, not knowing exactly how much clothing to take off (or leave on). But again, know that it’s OK to ask. Some massages require less clothing, for example, Swedish massage uses carefully placed blankets to cover your modesty. Whereas Thai massage and reflexology is a fully clothed treatment.
Saying that, it’s recommended you wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing for treatment. If the practitioner needs to access parts of the body, they can, while you still remain comfortable.
Oils – Not all massage treatments will use oils, but if you’re concerned or have any allergies, speak to the practitioner prior to the session. If oils are to be used, they typically have two purposes. The first is to act as a lubricant, helping the first strokes of the hand to glide on the skin. The second, is to promote relaxation through inhalation of the aromas. Aromatherapy oils can help you to relax, and help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety.
Speak up – During the session, the practitioner will want you to be completely comfortable. Depending on the massage you receive, the pressure applied will vary. Deep tissue massage for example is a lot more intense than a hot stone massage. While the therapist will explain what to expect at the beginning, if during the session, you are uncomfortable, the pressure if too firm or you need to pop to the bathroom, let them know.
Remember, a massage is meant to be a pleasant experience. Whether it’s a sports massage to help recover from injury, prenatal massage to reduce pregnancy aches and pains, or aromatherapy for relaxation, it is good for you, so enjoy it.