Monday, 6 January 2014

Receiving a massage

Many people think that receiving a massage is a passive activity, you turn up and the therapist does all the work, relaxing, re-aligning and restoring your body and mind.

But what if there was another way? What if you, the client, could enhance and improve the experience and the results by what you bring to the table.

Your therapist, whether you are attending for a relaxing Swedish or Aromatherapy massage or a Deep Tissue or Sports style massage, will bring many skills and techniques to the massage table.

Your therapist should have a good knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the body, the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, bones, joints, and in my opinion, specifically the nervous system. They should have a range of massage techniques and good hands-on skills in applying the required pressure and effective massage strokes. They should have outstanding palpation skills, with the ability to easily and quickly assess you body, comfort your brain and help you feel better.

But what can you do to help this process and improve the end results of your massage?

It's helpful to be in the moment when you are receiving a massage, lying on the table thinking about what happened yesterday at work or what to buy for Dinner isn't going to help you feel better.

Whilst your therapist is working try to focus your mind on the body part being worked, feeling the tissues being softened and relaxed.

Throughout the massage your therapist should be checking in with you on a regular basis about how the treatment is feeling for you, if the pressure is too much or too little, how different areas or spots are feeling. The more feedback and information you can give your therapist will be really helpful in enabling them to build an accurate picture of what is happening within your body. If they run over a spot that is more tender or sore than the surrounding tissue let them know. If a body part is feeling different on one side than it did on the other this is also helpful information and if you feel that a specific area is feeling really tight let your therapist know.

I often ask clients to actively move body parts whilst I'm working such as to slowly dorsal-flex and plantar-flex the foot whilst I work on the lower leg. This helps draw the clients attention to the specific area being worked, the muscles and surrounding soft tissues are being activated and moved under the pressure of the massage stroke and most importantly the brain is becoming aware of different sensations in that area which will hopefully help create lasting positive change in the area being worked.

It is surprising how different the results can be when you are an active participant in the massage. Feeling and visualising your body relaxing, helping your therapist soften areas of tension and ease areas of tenderness. You become an active participant in your own recovery.

The next time you are receiving a massage try and focus on what it is feeling like inside your body whilst your therapist is working and see how this enhances your treatment and if you get better results. If not don't worry, you can still just lie back and chill out for an hour if that is your preference.