WARNING: This is not for the faint hearted and ticklish. 🙂
Not everyone appreciates massage like I do. I also have friends who loves to have a massage every now and then especially after a very stressful day at work. I used to have a massage every month just to release all the tension from work too. I remembered developing a very tight trapezius muscle and that is a clear indication of stress. Massage made wonders and relieved the tension. Since then I made sure to have a massage at least once a month.
I’ve tried having a massage the day before the race and I’ve tried it also after the race. I like it better after the race. Why? Because it relieves sore muscles after a tiring event. But if you’re the type that would like to have fresh legs on a race day and resting just wouldn’t do, try having a massage before the race day.
There are different types of massage. Some of the most popular are:
- Swedish. Massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
- Aromatherapy massage. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender.
- Hot stone massage. Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.
- Deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle.
- Shiatsu. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians.
- Thai massage. Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches. You don’t just lie there–the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It’s like yoga without doing any work. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It is also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion.
- Reflexology. Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.
- Sports massage. Specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to have one-it’s also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn’t on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
- Back massage. Some massage clinics and spas offer 30-minute back massages. If a back massage is not expressly advertised, you can also book a 30- or 40-minute massage and ask that the massage therapist to focus on your back.
What are the benefits of massage:
- Improved circulation. Massage usually involves manipulation of the muscles and joints. This helps the blood to flow more freely through the body. Massage also aids in the flow of lymphatic fluids since these require muscular movements to flow through the body.
- Stress relief. This is one of the most important benefits of massage. Physical manipulation of muscles can be very pleasing and relaxing. This can lead to an overall feeling of relaxation and release from the physical stresses of everyday living.
- Pain reduction. Some types of massage focus on reducing pain from injury or athletic activities. Some techniques are also designed to reduce pain from surgery, accidents, or other medical conditions.
- Alertness. After massage, one usually feels more alert and energetic. This is especially appreciated by professionals who take quick massage sessions during their workday.
When not to have a massage:
- Fever: When you have a fever, your body is trying to isolate and expel an invader of some kind. Massage increases overall circulation and could therefore work against your body’s natural defenses.
- Inflammation: Massage can further irritate an area of inflammation, so you should not administer it. Inflamed conditions include anything that ends in –itis, such as phlebitis (inflammation of a vein), dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), arthritis (inflammation of the joints), and so on. In the case of localized problems, you can still massage around them, however, avoiding the inflammation itself.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure means excessive pressure against blood vessel walls. Massage affects the blood vessels, and so people with high blood pressure or a heart condition should receive light, sedating massages, if at all.
- Infectious diseases: Massage is not a good idea for someone coming down with the flu or diphtheria, for example, and to make matters worse, you expose yourself to the virus as well.
- Hernia: Hernias are protrusions of part of an organ (such as the intestines) through a muscular wall. It’s not a good idea to try to push these organs back inside. Surgery works better.
- Osteoporosis: Elderly people with a severe stoop to the shoulders often have this condition, in which bones become porous, brittle, and fragile. Massage may be too intense for this condition.
- Varicose veins: Massage directly over varicose veins can worsen the problem. However, if you apply a very light massage next to the problem, always in a direction toward the heart, it can be very beneficial.
- Broken bones: Stay away from an area of mending bones. A little light massage to the surrounding areas, though, can improve circulation and be quite helpful.
- Skin problems: You should avoid anything that looks like it shouldn’t be there, such as rashes, wounds, bruises, burns, boils, and blisters, for example. Usually these problems are local, so you can still massage in other areas.
- Cancer: Cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, and because massage increases lymphatic circulation, it may potentially spread the disease as well. Simple, caring touch is fine, but massage strokes that stimulate circulation are not. Always check with a doctor first.
- Other conditions and diseases: Diabetes, asthma, and other serious conditions each has its own precautions, and you should seek a doctor’s opinion before administering massage.
* You must also be aware that no pounding or pressure should be applied directly over your vertebra/spine; only to paraspinal muscles.
If you’re going to ask my favorite type of massage, I just prefer having a massage with the visually impaired; those who have stalls or units inside the malls. They’re good and not to mention cheaper than others.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and get a massage! Runners like us need pampering too. 🙂