There are many different types of massage. You will see aromatherapy massage offered by beauty salons in particular and the strokes of their treatment are in the main long sweeping strokes, mainly designed to warm the muscles and to soothe. My treatments include a wonderfully relaxing and beneficial lymphatic drainage routine designed to encourage blood and lymph flow, in particular to the areas holding tension and stiffness.The rest of the treatment benefits of course come from the essential oils themselves. Most massages will use a carrier of some description to alleviate the friction between the skin and the masseur’s hands.

Emotional factors of massage

We live in a world where any kind of touch is taboo. If we hold a person in our arms, primarily they may be a child or a lover. It is rare to be entirely physically vulnerable in the presence of someone very wrapped up in your life. In fact perhaps it is a unique opportunity to let go of emotions without any concern of how it may affect those around you.

Touch is a powerful thing. It is a signal of complete acceptance. There is an openness that you convey through massage. It is an unrivalled act of trust.

Memories in the muscles 

There is much evidence to show that in times of crisis not only does our mind have the capability to hide bad memories from us, it actually buries them both in our mind but also perhaps within the fibres of our muscles too. Any athlete will demonstrate how muscle memory works. It is still as yet unclear how this happens but as the body relaxes and the muscles are manipulated often these can trigger old emotions and memories to come back into sight.

It is not at all rare for a client to begin to cry for seemingly no reason on a therapists couch. Often it can be the relief of simply letting go after a long time of feeling they have to “hold it all together”.

On other occasions the client may come back the next week and say that they have been very emotional or angry throughout the week and cannot really describe what provoked them.

Our mind builds our reactions to things based on our history. It could be how our parents reacted to things or as a result of some episode in our lives. We learn behaviour as part of repetition in our lives and our body learns to follow suit. How many soldiers come back from war and are stuck in angry and aggressive states of mind? Their bodies are struggling to change just because they have moved into a different social context of peace time. Their muscles and their mind still jump on the defensive if they sense danger.

The same is true of all of our body’s to a greater or lesser degree. Consider too the effects of scents on the memory and be aware you cannot possibly predict what events the mind will wander to.

They are however natural and also an incredibly important part of peoples healing.

The physical benefits of massage

  • Relaxes the mind
  • Soothes pain
  • Unlocks tension in muscles
  • Encourages lymph drainage
  • Stimulates blood flow

During exercise muscles throw off a waste product into the fibres called lactic acid. Normally the body is able to rid itself of the acid easily but if it is left behind from more strenuous activity than the body is used to it leaves residue between the fibres, making it feel painful and stiff to move.

It is easy to imagine by strenuous activity I could mean running, but there is more than that. Consider how hard the muscles in your neck work when you are tense or even typing at a desk. Inevitably after a while there is stiffness. They build up too. After a while the acid will crystallise. Try rolling your head, if you don’t do that very often, can you feel the crunching in your spine? Lactic acid!

These crystals can be broken up by massage. By stimulating the blood flow to the muscles more nutrients replace the toxicity and also the lymphatic system is able to flush them right out of the body. By stimulating the lymphatic system too, there is a small rise in immunity in the body too.

referenced from COE training manual -