At the moment, the world is stressful, to say the least. Whether we’re locked up inside as a result of COVID-19, or we’re run off our feet working in an essential job, we’re all feeling the pressure. Whether it has just started today, or you have been feeling stressed for a while, if your levels of tension continue, it can contribute to a range of ailments, including high blood pressure, obesity, low metabolism and it may lead to depression and anxiety. Don’t let that happen! Your health is in your hands and you are your own best wellness advocate. Choosing a wellness lifestyle leads you on a path to greater control of your health.
If we’re feeling stressed, we need to address it as soon as possible. Look at all the wonderful wellness options available in our current world. One of the best ways we can combat this stress or at least something we can all consider when all the isolation is over, is massage. Making massage part of your wellness lifestyle will not only help you get well, but help you maintain your wellness for years to come.
According to research, massage helps to reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, which allows our body to slow down and relax—melting away the tension. Massage directly affects and addresses our “sympathetic nervous system” which is what puts us into “fight or flight” mode, by activating the “parasympathetic nervous system” which is what helps us return to balance – considered our “rest and reset” mode. But with so many different massage techniques on the market, how do you know which one will benefit your stress levels most effectively?
Here are our four to help you get started.
Swedish Massage involves long, gliding strokes that are both gentle and effective. This technique is called “effleurage.” The motions are designed to apply the lotion or cream to the client, as well as assess the client’s soft tissue. Effleurage is like “Aloha” in Hawaii, as it is used to say “hello” to the area being addressed as well as to say “goodbye” to that area of the body before moving on to address the next area of the body. The gliding can be light or deeper, depending on the client’s preference as well as the client’s health history. Deep pressure effleurage may be “contraindicated” or not medically advisable, for many health conditions. Long, gliding Swedish massage strokes can be simply relaxing or intended to remove “knots” – or adhesions – in muscles, thus decompressing and resetting muscle tissue. All of this is important to release tension- and stress! Kneading strokes are interspersed with effleurage and they are called “petrissage.” Kneading strokes can truly help with releasing muscle tension and smoothing out the soft tissue of the body, so that stress is released. Swedish massage may also include circular pressure of the finger-pads, palms, as “stripping” techniques to truly flush out the adhesions from muscle tissue. Percussion, or tapping-type, vibrational techniques, as well as gentle stretching can be included in a Swedish Massage, all of which assist in increasing circulation of blood and lymph, lower blood pressure, induce relaxation and truly help the client “rest and reset.”
Essential oils have been used to relieve stress for thousands of years, so why not incorporate them into your next massage? Aromatherapy Massage incorporates essential oil-infused massage oil or lotion. During your massage, as you inhale these “aromas” – drawing them into your mind and body – a greater effect can be enjoyed by the client. Great oils to assist with relaxation and reducing stress include lavender, sandalwood and chamomile. You can also use uplifting essential oils, like peppermint, or healing oils, like frankincense – which are great for people suffering from neuropathy, as they help awaken the neuromuscular junctions – the place in the cell where the nerve ending and the muscle cell unite.
Increasing blood circulation to your scalp, a head massage is specifically designed to release tension and reduce stress. Its a soothing massage and is also easy to try at home. Simply sit down in a comfortable chair, and get your partner to use slow, gentle strokes on your head before moving on to light circular motions – similar to “shampooing the scalp.” For added benefit, include lavender essential oil for true relaxation or peppermint essential oil for an uplifting effect – which is also good to help alleviate headaches and sinus pressure. Be careful to use a carrier lotion or oil for the peppermint, as it should not be applied directly to the skin or scalp.
Hot Stone Massage
For this type of massage, you’ll have flat, smooth, hot “river” stones which are used by the therapist in their hands – as an extension of their hands – during their long gliding strokes, once they are the acceptable temperature of between 120 – 130 degrees. They are never left on your skin, and should not be placed along your spine, your chest, face, stomach, hands, feet and toes. Oil is used, as opposed to creams and lotions, as the lubricant for a hot stone massage to help with the glide. Hot stones in the therapist’s hands are interspersed with long strokes using only the therapist’s hands and integrated throughout the massage. The therapist still must assess your muscle and soft tissue issues with their own intuitive and well-trained hands before and during the hot stone massage session, so not every stroke in a hot stone massage will utilize a hot stone. Hot stone massage is a great alternative to a deep tissue massage when the client is contraindicated for that due to medical conditions, like a herniated disc.
Try not to let stress get to you and if you find that you aren’t handling it well, we recommend that as soon as social-distancing laws permit, you get in touch with our team. We can offer you two options when it comes to learning about and experiencing stress reducing massage. One option is to book an appointment for a student massage once our student clinic is open again. You’ll pay a fraction of the price and receive the quality of a professional!
Second, if you want to learn all the right massage techniques, send us an email to find out how you can become a certified massage therapist. Out target timeframe for starting our next massage certification program is July. We’re currently offering distance learning options to our current students whom we expect to graduate in June and hope to have our teaching facilities open again soon.