Best Way to Benefit From Massage Therapy

Imagine every inch of your body deliciously relaxed – sound good? Then why not indulge in one of life’s blissful experiences?

Once associated with back-street parlours and sleaze, these days massage is more likely to evoke images of health and well-being than sex. Back massages are now being given in offices, hospitals and coffee bars, as well as on aeroplanes. But this doesn’t mean that the massage experience has evolved into a clinical procedure: stripping semi-naked and then being anointed with sweet-smelling oils is in itself decidedly sensual – this is way before the massage part has even started. Even a Chavutti-thirumal massage – in which the therapist kneads you with his or her feet – is guaranteed to send ripples of sensations through your body.

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Massage is one of the best antidotes to stress and tension, but its benefits go further than this: an hour of escapism from the real world alters both your physical and mental state, and you should emerge feeling spiritually uplifted, totally relaxed and loose-limbed, having had the tension eased out of every inch of your muscles. But as Colin Crane, head masseur at Champneys Health Resort, points out, although the light, stroking type of massage administered by beauty therapists is relaxing, in order for you really to benefit from a treatment the masseur needs to apply a certain amount of pressure to work deep into the muscle. ‘You need to rev up the circulation, expel toxins, oxygenate the cells and get the whole body moving,’ says Colin, whose advice is to find a trained masseur or therapist who does more than just tickle you.

Since ancient times massage has been proved to be a great healer. But another advantage of having a professional massage is one that is often overlooked: being touched. The skin is not only a tactile organ, but we all crave the feeling of human connection created by a caressing touch, although this is something that is often missing in our lives. Besides, there’s nothing quite like feeling the touch of experienced, oiled hands rubbing up and down your tense spine, pummelling deep into your knotted muscles, pressing the tender points on your face and gently stimulating your scalp.

There are now many different types of massage on offer, from the simple, back-and-neck method to aromatherapy, holistic, Shiatsu, chua-ka deep-tissue, Thai, Swedish, Tibetan, Indonesian, Indian (head), Chavutti-thirumal and tui-na, to name but a few. The benefits differ from massage to massage: while a Swedish massage, for example, leaves you feeling invigorated and bursting with energy, an aromatherapy treatment can be so relaxing that it sends you to sleep.

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The person who administers the massage is another important factor to consider (I personally prefer the strong pummelling of a male masseur to the softer, more soothing touch of a masseuse). Try out a few different massage techniques and you’ll be sure to stumble across one that really works for you. If possible, have a massage at least once a month.

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