Massage Trends

Massage Therapy can feel like a trendy business at times. It’s always fun to read spa menus to see what the latest, hottest treatments are. Quite often these are variations or repackagings of established practices. Nothing wrong with that. Hot/cold therapies, body scrubs, aromatherapy, therapeutic products, to name a few, have been around for thousands of years. And this is for good reason. They can be very effective.

Creatively highlighting certain therapies on a menu can be a great way to make them more accessible to potential clients especially if they can be positioned as an introduction to more intense or expensive treatments. Likewise, a seasonal twist to a regular therapy can be very effective to bring a timely therapy to the forefront or alter it in order to address seasonal issues like a sinus soothing massage during spring and fall.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend on spa menus that I find puzzling at best. Deep tissue or medical massage has been distinguished from Swedish or relaxing massage and surcharged for it. Pregnancy massage is targeted as a specialty technique and charged accordingly. Aromatherapy is being added, again, for a price. This practice of targeting and splitting massage sessions disturbs me and my sense of a business practice. I am not speaking of specialty massages like hot stones or body treatments. These are truly separate experiences with additional expenses, specialty products, training, and time considerations.

“Deep tissue” is a tricky classification. At heart, it indicates a firmer touch used to bring about a change in the client’s condition. I believe, most clients use deep tissue to mean just that. But deep work to one can be relaxing touch to another. Further complicating things is the fact that touch is modified depending on the area of the body the therapist is working on. An individual may be able to tolerate deeper work in some areas and not others. Furthermore, a client’s tolerance for firmer work may change session to session. Also, “not for nothing” as they say here in South Philly, Swedish techniques can resonate very deeply in the body so equating it with light touch is a dis-service. To distinguish deep tissue as a separate classification of massage makes little sense to me.

Pregnancy is clearly a specialized condition with the practitioner altering their approach to reflect the needs of the client specifically positioning, bolstering, and massage style. The client should be comfortable with the therapist’s training and experience before working with them. So far so good. The charging of additional fees for pregnancy massage is where you lose me. I’ve asked the reason for this and not gotten, what I consider to be, a good answer. I’ve heard pregnancy massage requires specialty training. Most massage programs cover basic pregnancy massage. A specialized pregnancy refresher course can be taken but this fits into the continuing education requirements for the massage professional. Required CE courses can cover a myriad of topics designed to hone the skills of the practitioner.

I’ve heard that pregnancy massage is surcharged “for liability reasons”. This completely mystifies me. Massage is absolutely indicated for most pregnancies as a safe and effective way to deal with many of the physical issues (and some of the emotional ones) of carrying a child. To cite liability as an issue with this works implicates the opposite. It also seems to indicate that the therapist who engages in pregnancy massage is somehow being penalized on their liability insurance. I have never been asked by my carrier, how many pregnant ladies I work on. This is simply a non issue. Pregnancy, like every other condition a client brings with them, should be considered and designed for within the normal massage session.

Aromatherapy is a time honored way of enhancing the massage session. Bodywork is a sensual experience with touch as a highlight. Scent and the sense of smell, however, is very powerful and an incredibly effective way to add more therapeutic detail to the work. To withhold it seems contrary to the therapist’s goal of providing the best experience possible. Good essential oils can be pricey but I’d rather find a way to include it than put out the possibility that you may be experiencing something less that the best massage available.

A massage therapy session is most effective when it has the freedom to address the individual client’s needs. I come from an improvisational theatrical background and find these skills of great value in my massage practice. I use all my education, skill, tools, and experience with every client and in every session. When you walk through my door, you are my one priority and everything I have goes to fulfilling the goals we’ve set for the session. I do not surcharge based on your needs or your depth requirements. Quite often, we don’t have a complete picture of what these are, until we’ve done a session together. Quite possibly it all boils down to business philosophy. I hold an individualized approach and customized work to be of the utmost importance in my practice.

An Introduction to Aromatherapy Massage

Touch is important to all living beings, being one of first and most basic means of communication. Massage is just one way of communicating sensations, hopefully of a pleasant nature.

Just as the body stores up the tensions of the day, both physical and emotional, in the muscles of the neck, back, head and limbs, so massage is a way of removing these muscular tensions, and as a result associated mental tension should also be eased. In addition massage can stimulate the circulation of the blood: the intended purpose of the massage should always be considered – if a massage is given to aid sleep, an invigorating rub down may have the opposite effect!

Aromatherapy massage adds an extra sense – that of smell – to the basic benefit of massage. Fragrances have the power to evoke feelings and memories independently of conscious thought. Combining aromatherapy with massage makes for a powerful experience – essentially the massage giver passes on their energy and touch to the receiver.

Contrary to popular belief, massage is not complicated or difficult and can, by following a few simple rules, form an important part of the healing process.

Always massage with the flow of your body, which is towards your heart. When massaging the abdomen the flow is in a clockwise direction, using circular movements that follow the flow.

Be aware of the needs of the person whom you are massaging, to ensure that it is a both a comforting and soothing experience, especially where the young and the very old are concerned.

The following is a simple guide to the different types of massage and the strokes that can be used to ensure the best results.

What Will I Need?

Aromatherapy massage is one of the simplest ways of using essential oils, but it still helps to prepare your tools and working space in advance.

It is important to have a warm, draught free and quiet environment, where you won’t be disturbed, and where all of your oils and accessories, such as clean towels, are easily to hand.

All essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier, or base oil, before being massaged onto the body or face. As a general rule of thumb the ratio of essential oil to base oil should be:

10 – 15 drops of essential oil in 60ml (12 teaspoons) of base oil.

(Click here to see our full range of carrier oils for use in Aromatherapy massage)

The Basic Massage Strokes

Aromatherapy massage requires long slow strokes maintaining contact on the body at all times, alternating with short fast friction rubs that warm the oils and help spread them evenly over the skin. Delicate areas such as the abdomen, pelvic region and bony areas should be stroked fairly lightly, while greater pressure can be applied to the heavier muscle areas such as the shoulders, buttocks and back. The basic massage strokes listed below comprise the main movements required for Aromatherapy massage.

Effleurage (Stroking Movements)

This is a series of gentle strokes enabling the massage oil to penetrate the body, helping to bring about a state of calm and relaxation. Use the whole hand to do short or long strokes, these can be firm or gentle depending on how you feel. This type of massage helps to increase circulation, relaxation of the muscles and relieve the body of stress and tension.

Petrissage (Kneading Movements)

Petrissage is gentle kneading movements, like kneading dough. The art of petrissage is never to cause pain or discomfort and should be performed slowly and carefully. It is usually used on the back, muscular and fatty areas, and is good for releasing trapped toxins, relaxing muscles and encouraging the lymphatic system to flow. As you perform each kneading movement put a slight pressure on your thumbs.

Friction (Circular Movements)

Especially beneficial for areas that are cold or of poor circulation. Rub the skin in circular movements with the flat of the hand in short, fast movements.

Raking Movements

Hold the fingers stiffly at the joints to resemble the ends of a rake, or as if to play the piano, and with fingertips touching the skin, make firm, raking movements with one or both hands, backwards towards your body.

Pummelling Movements

Make one or both hands into fists and, keeping fingers loose and relaxed while held in a fist, bounce them up and down the body in a fast drumming movement. Pummelling can also be carried out with the hands flat, and fingertips down, or with the sides of the hands, or even with the palms turned upwards.

The Five Main Areas for Massage

Hand Massage

Head, Neck & Facial Massage

Foot Massage

Shoulders & Back Massage

Full Body Massage

>> Hand Massage

This is especially appropriate for older people and people for whom back, foot or facial massages are not appropriate. Touching the hands gently can be very calming – the fingers are packed with nerve endings, and can be as attuned to different parts of the body as the feet.

A quick de-stresser is to gently stroke the recipient’s hands, from wrist to finger tips, using a light flowing touch with all five fingers.

>> Head, Neck & Facial Massage

Place your chosen essential oils on your fingertips and use the fingers to massage around the head. Use only your fingertips to gently but firmly pass around and over the head in a smooth controlled movement.

For Headaches it’s best to start at the base of the neck and work upwards to the base of the scalp. Use the fingers in firm, but not hard effleurage strokes. Continue for as long as necessary. It may also help to include the upper shoulder area which is also often tense, and may in fact be the cause of the headache.

A self- facial massage of the jaw line up to a point immediately below the ears can also help to prepare us for stressful situations such as sitting exams, interviews etc.

To continue the massage onto the neck area, move the hands to the base of the neck, placing a hand on each side of the vertebrae (never put pressure on the vertebrae).

Use small but firm circular movements, working from the base of the neck, and continue upwards to the base of the scalp and then down the sides of the neck. Work around the sides of the neck using gentle but firm movements.

>> Foot Massage

Massage in an upwards direction form the toes to the ankle; if you are lucky enough to have someone do this for you, thumbs should be on the sole of the foot with the fingers on top, if you are doing your own feet you may find it easier to have your thumb on top with you fingers underneath.

>> Shoulder & Back Massage

Before you begin the massage, ensure the recipient is comfortable, preferably lying face down on a well padded floor, bed or mattress, with a rolled up towel or bolster pillow under the upper chest, to ensure that the head and neck will be relaxed in the face down position.

Beginning with the shoulders, use the thumbs and palms to massage with effleurage and petrissage actions, moving from the base of the neck outwards to the shoulder. You may also find it beneficial to take in the shoulder blade area by making large circular movements around the top of the shoulder to just under the shoulder blade.

Moving down towards the lumbar region of the back, use effleurage strokes, placing one hand either side of the vertebrae, using the whole hand, flat against the back stroke up towards the shoulder around and over the shoulder blade and slide down again the sides of the back. Repeat as often as is wished.

Note: Do NOT massage over the vertebrae, as the spine is very sensitive. Always move the hands, fingers and thumbs over either side of the spine.

>> Full Body Massage

The full body massage should incorporate all of the above massages, while also including the arms, legs and abdomen.

The Arms – Using upwards strokes from the wrist to the armpit. Using petrissage on fatty and muscular areas as appropriate.

The Abdomen – using effleurage strokes, use circular movements in a clockwise direction only.

The Legs – always massage the legs upwards from the ankle to the thigh using effleurage strokes. Where appropriate use petrissage on the fatty or muscular areas. (Never over varicose areas)

Lower abdomen and hips – using effleurage strokes start at the lower back and slide over the hips, then slide each hand over the abdomen. Use the whole of the hand flat against the skin.

The Various Benefits of Mobile Massage Services

In today’s fast paced life, with people being very busy they tend to accept any new service that claims to make life easier. One gets to enjoy all good things in life at their doorstep these days. One such service that comes to your doorstep is the mobile massage service. These services can also be customized according to your needs. You will be given the best of services taking into consideration your needs, injuries and allergies.

The mobile massage service is very useful to people who cannot travel. An elderly woman, a patient, a woman with a small child or a woman who is pregnant, all these individuals though with travelling constraints might require massage services. It gets very stressful for these individuals to get a massage done. This is where a mobile massage service comes of use. Since the therapist carries their own massage table along, it gets very convenient for an individual to enjoy the service uninterrupted.

Massage therapists are trained in performing massages that help relax their clients. You can either choose the type of massage you want or let the therapist perform either a relaxation massage or any other massage that he is proficient in. You can choose a variety of therapies including foot massage, pregnancy massage, aromatherapy, deep tissue massage or just plain relaxation massage. Sessions are usually inclusive of items that the therapist carries along like soft music helping you relax along with the necessary massage kit that includes oil, aromas, towels, linens and scented candles. You will also be briefed about the type of room required for the massage as well as the type of clothes you will need to be wearing for maximum effectiveness.

Many companies these days take advantage of massage to enhance the effectiveness of their workers. Companies like this prefer mobile massage services as they are easily reachable. These companies even go to the extent of creating a specialized room for massage services to their employees. Such corporate massages are generally not performed in the traditional way. Instead of using a massage table, therapists use a chair to perform the massage. Since the massage is carried out only as a stress management technique employees do not need to disrobe and therefore they get to enjoy the session and find it truly relaxing.

Businesses these days use mobile massage services as a technique to attract clients. They offer masseur services to help clients relax, thereby earning their business. Mobile massage services are also offered to clients during special occasions such as product launches along with food, entertainment and drinks. These services are also offered as gifts these days instead of the traditional packaged ones marking a revolution in gifting ideas.

Aromatherapy Massage – Its Importance and Health Benefits

Aromatherapy is the science that uses the healing powers of essential oils. Aromatic essential oils are distilled from organic plant sources. These plants produce many natural phyto chemicals. Thus, essential oils have diverse therapeutic effects on the mind, body and spirit.

Massage and Aromatherapy go hand in hand. In ancient Egypt, aromatic baths were a daily ritual. This was followed by a massage using aromatic oils made from cinnamon, rose, cedar wood, lilies, myrrh and so on. The last Egyptian queen Cleopatra was famous for exotic massages, aromatic baths and perfumes. She lavishly used perfumes to seduce both Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. In those days, aromatherapy massage was meant for relaxation, pleasant bodily scents, skin conditioning and overall healing. They did not have a clear distinction between perfumery and healing. We now know that an aromatic essential oil massage heals through the sense of touch and smell.

Importance of Aromatherapy Massage

The true significance of an aromatherapy massage is to completely harmonize the mind and the body. Pure and natural essential oils both heal and beautify the body, emotions, and the psyche for a truly powerful and unique sensory experience. An aromatherapy massage is effective due to the ability of the essential oil to penetrate the skin layers and tissues. This permits the oil to enter into the blood quickly and spread the therapeutic benefit throughout the body. The quality of the essential oil will directly affect the extent to which the positive health effects the oil can be derived.

Aromatherapy massage has been accepted today to play a role in relaxation, rehabilitation, and preventive health care in western medicine as well. These massages are offered as part of the health package in spas, beauty clinics resorts and wellness centers.

Essential oils need to be selected and used with care and caution before delivering an aromatherapy massage. Essential oils can either sedate or stimulate the recipient. Most oils are antibacterial and many anti-spasmodic. There are many aromatherapy products available in the market today which contain synthetic substances. These do not give any therapeutic health benefits and can in fact cause adverse reactions.

Health Benefits for Specific Ailments with Aromatherapy Massage

  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Digestive problems,
  • Stress
  • Hypertension,
  • Insomnia,
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Lethargy and low energy levels

These are some health conditions that respond very well to massage with essential oils.