Welcome to the second weekly post series called Wellness Wednesday! Each week, we’ll be discussing different things to add to your wellness regime, whether best for the mind, body and/or spirit. Each post will be discussing benefits, how often, and of course cost. You ready for this?
So today’s first post, I’ll be discussing something I am the most familiar with, seeing how this is something I myself do for a living, today I will be discussing about massage.
(Author Note: This is not an end all and be all guide, in fact this plus all the Wellness Wednesdays to come will be just a general overview with basic guidelines and suggestions based on personal experience. I encourage everyone to do their own research on what’s best for you and you alone. You know your own body, you know what you can and can’t handle, plus when in doubt talk to a qualified health practitioner.)
What is Massage?
Massage (or Masomyology) is known as the manipulation of muscle tissue. While twenty or so years ago, most considered it a luxury where as today it has become more of a health necessity. Massage comes in many styles and modalities considering there are over 200 known modalities with more coming on the scene each year. While often the tool of choice is good old fashion human hands, today there are many other tools such as hot stones, crystals, trigger point tools, and other nifty gadgets to enhance the session so that the therapist doesn’t put an over use on their hands.
What are the benefits?
Massage has a huge amount of benefits from increasing circulation to pain relief. Depending on the modality given, one may use one or many modalities together to get the best results of each session. A few examples of some more well known modalities include;
Swedish: A modality best known for increasing circulation and the relaxation response of the parasympathetic (or rest and digest response) nervous system. Often a great intro for those who are completely new to massage in general, but also used to give general tissue warm up before diving into deeper work. Swedish can often get a bad rap as I know a few who coin the term “fluff and buff” as known for the therapist to do super light work only (often found in more spa-like settings, but in the end it is really up to the therapist). Swedish can go from light to firm depending on client preference.
Deep Tissue: Often combined with Swedish, Deep Tissue tends to be deeper and more detailed work used to release the muscles. Depending on the therapist’s style and training, a good majority of the time a client may feel a bit of pain and soreness, but in the end it’s more about the client’s pain tolerance. It’s also normal to feel a bit sore after a session of deep tissue but often soreness tends to subside after a day or so depending on the client’s water intake and also depending on the type of work the therapist has done. The best results I often tell my client to reduce soreness after a session is a good Epsom salt soak that day or within a few days after the massage, although nothing beats good old fashion water.
Hot Stone: The use of heated stones to enhance a massage session. Hot stones in general are often used as an add-on or can be a complete session on their own. Using heat to help relax the muscles and the stones themselves can be tools used to give the therapist a chance to do deeper work. I’m well aware of incidents where clients have been burned by hot stones but when prepared and done right the stones should feel like the heat from a warm shower. Which when it boils down to it, it’s more on how the client responds.
Those are often the three most popular modalities most people opt for but other ones include Prenatal (massage for pregnant women), Myofascial Release (The release of the fascia around the muscles), Lymphatic Drainage (work of the lymph nodes to decrease swelling), and the list goes on from there. Other ways sessions can be enhanced with aromatherapy (more on this topic next week), cold stones, trigger point tools, salt or sugar scrubs, and other spa-like treatments. Also a therapist can combine energy work such as Reiki, Polarity Therapy, Quantum Touch, and Chakra Balancing (Special Note: Please ask your therapist if they even do energy work before assuming it’s going to be automatically part of the session, I personally add energy work but I know many therapists who look at massage as strictly on a muscular manipulation level. I’m also well aware on most views these therapists have on energy work).
How often should I get a massage?
This is the one question that I get asked so often by my clients, especially new clients. I will be honest, I personally base my recommendation of how often based on how the intro-massage goes. A good majority of the time most clients are best for a massage every four to six weeks, some I see for the usual hour while others for 90 minutes to two hours. Sessions that often involve treatment for specific goals such as releasing a frozen shoulders and helping out with tight hips are often best for once a week until results of improvement are showing then slowly making way towards maintenance work to get up to the every four to six weeks goal. Some cases such as clients I see for chronic pain management or clients who work a highly stressful or physically demanding job I see as often as once a week or two times a week. As most cases go, majority of recommendations are based on therapist observation but it is up to the client to follow through with those recommendations.
Now here is the number one reason why most people tend to not get massages as often as they should, the cost factor. While it is true that most hour massages can cost between $50 to as high as $200 for an hour (this depends on where you schedule your massage too, high end resorts can cost pretty high just because most people like to splurge on their vacations). There are places who often offer a introductory price such as franchises or even independent contractors themselves. Sometimes schools offer clinics for students at an extremely discounted rate but this is often so students can get their required amount of massages for their training. Some places will run groupon specials as well. The general rule for most therapists is they often charge a dollar a minute and for therapists who do mobile services or house calls will charge a bit more to add on gas costs. Also, as tempting as it maybe to just go to places who offer discounts only, if you do find a therapist you extremely like and is doing an awesome job with your treatments then by all means don’t be afraid to come back to that therapist and pay full price for the service they offer. Not to mention most therapists will run specials or offer packages of paying for so many massages up front (that’s if you’re going to the therapist themselves, rules are different if seeing the therapist through an establishment they do not own such as franchise or a place with set prices.)
Also is time an issue? Think of one hour activity you can go without for an hour a month and replace that time with a massage. A very simple but very effective tip.
I really hope you enjoyed this first Wellness Wednesday post and I look forward to post more in the future. Next post will be about Aromatherapy and simple ways to add essential oils to your life.
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