Far beyond the promotion of simply ‘feeling good,’ massage has an impressive range of therapeutic benefits. With a variety of hands-on methods, a licensed and skilled massage therapist can facilitate release of muscle contraction, as well as improved circulation and lymphatic flow.
The therapist’s hands speed removal of metabolic waste products resulting from exercise or inactivity. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells and tissues. Sensory receptors in skin and muscles “wake up,” bringing new awareness to areas that have been cut off from the rest of the body by chronic tension patterns.
The release of muscular tension also helps to unblock and balance the overall flow of life energy throughout the body (known in different cultures as ki, chi, prana etc.). In addition, massage can stimulate the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – into the brain and central nervous system. All this translates into an amazing number of tangible results.
Some of the physical benefits associated with therapeutic massage are deep relaxation and stress reduction, relief of muscle tension and stiffness, reduced muscle spasm and pain, greater joint flexibility and range of motion, increased ease and efficiency of movement, better circulation of both blood and lymph, reduced blood pressure, relief of tension-related headaches and eye strain, healthier, better nourished skin, improved posture, deeper and easier breathing, faster healing time from pulled muscles and sprained ligaments, reduced spasm, pain and swelling, reduced formation of scar tissue, strengthened immune system and disease prevention, and a head start on health maintenance.
Some of the mental benefits associated with therapeutic massage include a relaxed state of alertness, reduced mental stress and a calmer mind, greater ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately, and increased capacity for clearer thinking.
And finally, emotional benefits include a fulfillment of the need for caring and nurturing touch, promotion of a feeling of well-being, increased ease of emotional expression, enhanced self-image, reduced levels of anxiety, increased awareness of body-mind connection, a feeling of being unified and in harmony with self and the world.
The area in which the session is offered is arranged to promote a feeling of relaxation and peace. It is normally quiet with only the addition of soft music. The recipient can focus on themselves, going deep within, and take a break from daily stress and tension.
The therapist uses lotion or oil to massage tension out of the body beginning with the recipient lying face down between sheets on a massage table. Feet, legs, shoulders and back are worked gently and firmly with massage oil. Then the recipient turns face up and the second half of the session begins. The therapist moves on to work with the neck, shoulders, facial muscles, scalp, arms hands, legs and feet again. The result is a feeling of total and complete inner peace and relaxation.
What to Expect
Falling asleep or entering a deep meditative state of mind is a common response to receiving this kind of healing session. This can be an indicator of a number of different factors. Most of us do not get enough rest, and the act of lying down for even short periods of time can prompt a state of deep relaxation. Add to that the relaxation created by the massage, and the stage is set for the body to go into a restorative mode. Sleeping or meditating through a treatment is absolutely natural and OK.
Once the massage is complete, the person receiving is invited to take a few minutes to absorb and integrate the work before beginning to sit up. It is common to experience a deep sense of peace and relaxation following a treatment. At least an hour of free time is recommended following the appointment to allow for full receipt of the benefits and a gradual reentry into the world. Eating a healthy meal, taking a leisurely walk, or sitting quietly are activities which often serve as a good transition to resuming whatever is planned for the rest of the day.
Hallie is a licensed massage therapist in Connecticut and New York. She is Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, an approved continuing education provider for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, and has been offering continuing education classes since 2000. She is also Nationally Certified in Holistic Aromatherapy since 2002 and has been studying advanced clinical aromatherapy since 2005. Hallie is an Associate in Polarity Therapy (APP), Usui Reiki Master Teacher, Master Instructor of Integrated Energy Therapy and a certified labyrinth facilitator. She currently teaches at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy and has spent 13 years as an instructor for Finger Lakes School of Massage in both Ithaca and Mt. Kisco, NY.
Hallie is founder of Soul Song, offering training in a wide spectrum of complementary care alternatives. A well known and respected educator with extensive training in energywork and body-centered therapies, her mission highlights creating transformation on personal and professional levels through quality education in alternative approaches to prevention and wellness.
To schedule a therapeutic massage lecture or class in your area, email Hallie.