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Massage therapy: all you knead to know

Ok, folks, corny pun aside, we hope the title got your attention because we’re about to give you every excuse you’ll ever need to treat yourself to a massage. And not feel a smidgeon of guilt.

In fact, you are going to start considering it a vital part of your health routine. And you’d be right!

How is massage therapy going to help you?

Go ahead and search for the benefits of massage on Google. Swamped with results, right? That’s because people have consistently been experiencing the worth of a good old rubbing down.

The professionals can tell you what the physical advantages of specific massage therapies are, but only you know the extra emotional and spiritual benefits you reap. Depending on what floats your boat, you can have a Zen time out by yourself, or call in friendly reinforcements for a fabulous chance to reconnect and reforge bonds while having your stress kneaded away.

Boost your muscle recovery

So is there any science behind this? Well, actually, yes. A study published online in Science Translational Magazine found that on a cellular level, massage reduces inflammation and increases the production of mitochondria (those powerhouses inside our cells) whose job is to convert what we eat into energy. The results of the study suggest that massage not only reduces post-exercise pain, it also promotes quicker recovery. The days of shuffling around for ages after a tough bout of exercise are over. You can massage your way to fighting fit in no time.

Get a handle on your stress

Not only does massage help our muscles physically recover, but it also has a positive effect on our biochemistry. Studies, such as this one published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, have shown that a massage can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. Now you know why a massage leaves you feeling so gosh darn good.

The medical massage

Massage also works marvellously in conjunction with standard treatment for a broad spectrum of medical conditions. According to this Mayo Clinic online article, massages are being recommended more and more by other health professionals as a complementary treatment to help tackle numerous ailments. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment!

How to tell one massage from another

So which massage is right for you?

Swedish massage, Indian head massage, deep tissue massage…just which one is right for you? Well, let’s break it down to basics so you can make an informed decision:

Swedish massage: this one really needs no introduction. It’s a familiar favourite that calls for gentle pressure, long circular strokes, fiction work and kneading. It’s usually a full body affair but worry not for your modesty. You’ll either be draped strategically, or you can opt to keep your knickers on! Great for relaxation, tension relief and those of us who are massage newbies or prefer a more gentle approach.

Aromatherapy massage: think Swedish massage with an essential oil boost. Your therapist will use diluted essential oils together with massage oils for your treatment. The essential oils are specifically chosen to promote good vibes like relaxing, calming, energising and uplifting.  So you’d opt for this one for similar reasons you’d pick a Swedish massage, except with an aromatic twist.


Indian head massage:
its no wonder with all the hectic hassle we endure and the frenzied pace we need to maintain that all that anxiety and tension crawls up our shoulders and settles around our neck and head until we are walking around like some kind of demented Quasimodo. That’s where the Indian Head massage steps in. Focussing on specific pressure points on your head, neck and shoulders, the therapist will use firm pressure to knead away all the tension and nasty knots.


Hot stone massage:
this one will take you from errgggg to aaahhh in no time. The therapist will use hands and warm stones in combination to rub, stroke and press your body until you relinquish any aches and pains and drift off into a state of euphoria. Sounds good? Well, this one is for you if you suffer from muscle pain or just want the ultimate in relaxation.


Deep tissue massage:
the pressure is on. Literally. This treatment targets those chronic muscle problems and tackles tight knots. The therapist uses firm force, slow strokes and deep finger pressure to burrow deep into the layers of your muscles. Opt for this one if you can handle the pressure and remember, as with all treatments, check with your treating physician beforehand.


We’ve just scratched the surface of the available treatments. There are so many more variations to choose from: prenatal massage, candle massages, reflexology, to name a few.

The important thing for you is to find the treatments that work best for you and then go and book yourself an hour or so of bliss. No reason not to, its for your health after all!

Citations

Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage
BY JUSTIN D. CRANE, DANIEL I. OGBORN, COLLEEN CUPIDO, SIMON MELOV, ALAN HUBBARD, JACQUELINE M. BOURGEOIS, MARK A. TARNOPOLSKY
SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE01 FEB 2012: 119RA13

Beneficial effects of massage on tired muscles work through anti-inflammatory and mitochondrial biogenesis pathways.
TIFFANY FIELD, MARIA HERNANDEZ-REIF, MIGUEL DIEGO, SAUL SCHANBERG & CYNTHIA KUHN (2005)
CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY, International Journal of Neuroscience, 115:10, 1397-1413, DOI: 10.1080/00207450590956459

The Brahman Hills Team
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