Are you looking for a way to relax? Perhaps you've got a sore back, stress from work, sore muscles from running or exercising, or headaches. How often do you take an hour out of your busy day just to wind down? Most likely, you're ready for massage. Wi th little effort on your part, and no responsibilities, you could have a certified massage therapist knead those tight, tired, stressed out muscles into relaxation--a blissful mini-vacation.
For those people who are hesitant, chair massage is an excellent way to start. With your clothes on, you sit in a specially designed massage chair which puts your body in a position to recieve a massage. A chair massage generally last about 15-20 minut es, and is an excellent way to receive your first back, neck and shoulders massage.
In the last 5 years, a new aspect of massage therapy is to bring the chair to business sites, where executives and secretaries alike enjoy the benefits of a relaxing, invigorating break. More and more business owners are finding massage "perks" to be g reatly appreciated by their employees. David Palmer, president of the On-Site Massage Association, writes in an industry newsletter that some 4,000 practitioners (out of 50,000 certified massage therapist across the country) now use massage chairs in the workplace as well as on street corners, in airports and malls, and at conventions and other gatherings where people can be found.
Everyone can benefit from massage. Anyone with emotional or physical stress is a candidate. Although Europe has been using massage for many years to increase an athlete's performance, the 1984 Olympics was the catalyst that caused massage to leap into public awareness. When athletes are in a relaxed state, they eliminate virtually all injuries and can perform at their peak. At the finish line, when first and second place are less than a tenth of a second apart, everything counts. The Olympics showed th at getting massaged regularly could give up to a 20% better over-all performance.
Massage increases circulation, elevates red and white corpuscle count, pumps fresh oxygen into the muscles, and eliminates toxins in the blood. Massage also increases endurance. Studies have shown that massage can help people suffering from muscle fati gue recover 300% faster than without massage. For people with high stress, such as people in business, massage can help lower blood pressure and allow the heart to rest. Anxiety and nervous tension are diminished, and wrinkle and worry lines disappear.
There are three questions that will help you find the right massage therapist for you. Foremost in most people's minds is the question of rates. In our area an hour massage can range from $25 to $60 per hour. Usually, people with less than a year's exp erience are still developing their styles and may offer lower rates. As in any service-oriented business, a tip at the end of a good massage is greatly appreciated. Tips usually vary, depending on clients satisfaction and budget.
A second consideration is the style(s) of massage the practitioner uses. Swedish/Esalen is the most common. It works by kneading and stroking the muscles--a must for your first massage. Generally oil is used, and the muscles are worked until totally re laxed. The next most common styles are Shiatsu (a Japanese form of massage dating back over 5,000 years) and Acupressure, a Western version of Shiatsu. Both are pressure point, stretching methods, working more with the energy flow of the body than with th e muscles directly.
The third question regarding choosing a massage therapist concerns certification. In California, certification consist of 100 hours of instruction and 100-150 hours of practice. Working with a certified massage therapist means an assurance that the per son has been trained in basic anatomy and massage. There is no such thing as a massage license. Individual cities determine whether a massage therapist will receive a business license, and that license has no direct correlation with a person's experience or ability. With these three questions answered (price, style and certification) to your satisfaction, you can better relax, knowing that you are in good hands.
Now let's say this is your first massage. What should you expect? If you want a full-body massage, you can choose between a half hour, an hour (which is the most common) and an hour and a half. A typical routine in full-body massage is to disrobe and t hen lay between a set of sheets or towels. Some people choose to keep their underwear on. Whatever makes you the most comfortable is important.
Using oil, at room temperature or often warmed, the massage therapist picks a starting point (or you may request one) and the massage then flows smoothly from one area to another until your entire body is finished. Concerning those tight muscles in the back, neck and shoulders, a massage therapist must go in as firmly as possible without causing major discomfort or pain. If you find yourself tensing up from too firm a touch, give immediate feedback so that you can maintain a relaxed state. The massage therapist is relying on you to signal him or her if s/he is pushing too hard, too light, or in any way making you uncomfortable. The priority is your relaxation and comfort.
At the end of your massage, you should be feeling highly relaxed. You might want to plan a low activity afternoon or evening to maintain this relaxation as long as you can. A hot bath before bed is highly recommended.