We all need and benefit from human touch. Touch creates an atmosphere of caring, one of the prerequisites for healing. One of the most complete ways of rendering human touch is through healing massage. By applying the right amount of pressure tension points can be smoothed away and impediments to the flow of energy unblocked leading to better circulation, muscle tone, digestion and skin.
In effect, massage stimulates and encourages the mind, body and spirit in self-healing. In expert hands it is powerful enough to strengthen the immune system and trigger increased secretions of serotonin which acts as an antidepressant and of endorphins which act as natural pain-killers. According to some researchers even strong residual emotions once long ago felt and imprinted into the spinal column can be soothed and eased away.
Among the most common types of massage are: Swedish massage which is ideal for physical and emotional stress and for keeping ligaments and tendons supple and young; Shiatsu and Thai massage which are similar in concept, both seeking to balance the flow of energy through the body to optimize self-healing using the ‘ meridians ’ or energy channels of the body – they are particularly good for deep relaxation, reducing stress, improved circulation and removing toxins; trigger point massage which is a deep-tissue technique that concentrates on ‘ trigger’ points where rigidity or compression of muscle fibers is most likely to occur – it is particularly good for those with identifiable chronic pain, sports injuries and relief of muscle spasms and swellings; and finally Reflexology which holds that all parts of the body are associated with corresponding parts of the feet, hands and skin – it promotes circulation, relaxation and pain relief.
The common element to all is that our physical, emotional and spiritual spheres should be in balance for optimal health. Unlike conventional Western medicine, massage focuses on the whole person not one specific part, thereby encouraging the body to heal itself.
• Try out different kinds of massage to see which suits you. Your local health center may have a list of approved practitioners. Alternatively friends or relatives might have recommendations.
• Be sure to identify to the practitioner any old sports injuries or other sensitive areas beforehand so no discomfort is caused during the session. If you’re not used to it, don’t ask for a ‘ hard ’ massage to begin with – it could be more than you can bear! If you find it’s too soft, don’t be shy and ask them to increase pressure. It may be two or three sessions before the therapist gets it precisely right. Be patient.