Sometimes, when you have an ache or pain in your body you might unconsciously start to rub the area that is hurting. At other times, you might crave some ‘soft’ time, time, to allow yourself to relax, let go, away from noise and interruptions and to be pampered. Massage is the ideal way to do all this and more. Here we look at the benefits of massage for relaxation.
Massage works on many levels in the body. On a physical level massage relaxes the muscles, allowing the tension in the body to be released. Relieving muscle tightness allows the blood to flow into and around the area more smoothly, stimulating blood flow. Some massages can also work to move the lymph around and out of the body, helping the body to detox. Massage can also work on an energy level, by relieving blockages in the meridians (in Chinese medicine meridians are pathways in the body along which energy flows) or by stimulating acupressure points to allow the energy to flow freely around the body. Some treatments, like reflexology, treat the whole body even though the focus and the massage itself is taking place on the feet.
Benefits of massage for relaxation
There are many benefits of massage including:
- Pain reduction – pain in the back or neck can be caused by tense muscles, massage releases the tension in the muscles thereby reducing pain.
- Stress reduction – quiet time, free from interruptions
- Tension reduction – rubbing or pressing on tension points allows the areas to relax
- Headache relief or reduction in the frequency or volume of headaches – some headaches can be caused by muscle tension in the neck or back.
- Anxiety reduction
- Sleep improvement – having a massage before bed can help the body (and mind) to unwind
- Fatigue reduction
- Posture improvement – by releasing tight muscles, the posture can return to normal
- Improves circulation – pressure moves blood through blocked areas, and allows new blood to come in
Massage can also help to reduce depression – there is some medical evidence which shows that massage can reduce cortisol levels by up to 50% (cortisol is the hormone triggered by the body in response to stress). At the same time, serotonin and dopamine levels can increase; these neurotransmitters help to stabilize your mood.
Types of massage
There are many different types of massage around, so here we describe the difference:
Swedish massage is based on the Western idea of physiology (as opposed to Eastern idea of energy and meridians); here the therapist uses sweeping stokes to warm the muscle tissue, which helps to release tension and those ‘knots’ that appear, most commonly in your shoulders! The strength can vary from relaxing to deep, depending upon the therapist or your needs.
Deep tissue massage works to release chronic muscle tension and is a deeper form of Swedish massage. Here the focus is on massaging the deepest layers of muscle tissue, the tendons and fascia (the connective tissue). The massage therapist uses her hands and lower arms, and sometimes elbows, depending upon the strength of the massage that you would like, to really release the tension.
Indian head massage focuses on the head, plus the upper back, shoulders and neck. It works using deep massage and trigger points to relieve tension and stress, and promotes a calm mind together with a stress free body.
Massage at La Crisalida Retreats
Here at La Crisalida, our highly experienced caring therapists, provide individualised sessions, tailoring treatments specifically for you, taking into account areas that you know are particularly tight and any injuries. We use organic essential oils for our massages, although sometimes no oils are used for part of the massage. Other treatments are also available, such as reiki, chakra balancing and energy healing, which focus more on the energy in the body (more on these in later articles!).
So, whether it is for a luxurious treat, to help relieve stress and tension in the body and muscles or maybe for pain management, massage treatments at La Crisalida health and wellbeing retreats are a wonderful way to enhance your relaxation and rejuvenation.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).