Thursday, April 4, 2013

Massage Q & A

What are some of the benefits of Massage Therapy?

"There are many benefits to Massage Therapy, relaxation is really the biggest result. However, it can also relieve muscle pain, increase circulation, headache and migraine relief, lowers blood pressure, improves flexibility and range of motion and can help with depression and anxiety. These are just some of the many benefits of massage. Talk to your therapist about what goals you are trying to reach so that we can give you a more focused massage."  -Melissa

"The main benefits of massage therapy are mental and physical stress reduction, the release of tension in muscles, tendons, fascia and scar tissue, pain reduction, increased musculoskeletal flexibility, faster healing time after injuries, surgeries and illnesses, and improved blood and lymphatic circulation. Regular massage is considered to also stimulate the immune system, help reduce depression and anxiety, improve the appearance of skin, help prepare the body for athletic performance, improve postural imbalances, promote better sleep and help diminish scar tissue." -Corinne

Why is it important to stretch and drink plenty of water after a massage?

"Massage increases circulation in your muscle tissues. Blood is responsible for both nourishing your tissues as well as carrying the metabolic waste away. The blocked area is usually from muscle tightness, which comes from stress, physical activity, poor posture or injury. We need water after muscle manipulation occurs to hydrate our bodies so it can better flush out the waste. I look at stretching like brushing my teeth. I go to the dentist periodically when I have a problem or need a deep cleaning. Between visits, I brush and floss. Stretching is self care.
I recommend people stretch for a couple reasons. 1) Sometimes depending on how tight a person is and/or how long a session is there may be some areas that need more work. The person who received the massage can stretch specific muscles to enhance the work we did in the room. 2) I recommend stretches so they can increase mobility and stay more relaxed between massage sessions." -Robin

"Gentle stretching will help facilitate further muscle release and blood circulation after a massage. After a deep tissue massage in particular, it is important to stretch slowly and gently or even wait 24 hours after the massage to stretch, because some deep tissue techniques cause micro-tears in muscle fibers in order to release tension, which requires some time for muscles to recuperate. Drinking plenty of water, especially after a massage, will help continue to flush out any toxins and lymphatic waste that was freed up during a massage. Keeping the body extra hydrated after a deep tissue massage especially will help reduce soreness and inflammation associated with certain deep tissue techniques." -Corinne

"Stretching in general is very important. Most people have chronically tight and restricted muscles. By stretching regularly this will aid in movement and improved range of motion. When we work your muscles, it releases built up toxins that need to be flushed out, so drinking extra water after a massage will help do this. However, working on tissue that is dehydrated is more difficult and takes more time to get a result so it's also very important to drink extra water the 24 hours before your massage as well. In general, most people are dehydrated so drinking more water everyday is a great idea!" -Melissa

What should I expect during my first massage?

"Before the massage begins, a good therapist should spend time discussing what you are hoping to accomplish during the session, regarding specific areas of pain or tension, or simple relaxation, for example. They should find out if you are interested in receiving a full body massage, or if you would like to spend as much time as needed on one or more particular areas. Keep in mind that in a 60 minute session, while it is possible to get everything in, there will be more of a limit to how much time can be spent in each area. So if you have a particular area of discomfort that you're hoping to relieve as much as possible, it might be best to agree to spend as much time as needed on it, possibly forgoing the rest of the body for that session. 
Your therapist should also go over your basic medical history including any injuries, surgeries or illnesses, particularly those that currently affect you. It is important to be thorough in giving medical history, particularly with injuries, to help your therapist avoid causing any further harm. Licensed massage therapists are under the same oath of confidentiality as medical professionals and legally cannot share this information. Your therapist should explain basically what will happen during the session and what all the various options are. It should be explained that you have the option of removing only as much clothing as you are comfortable with and that you will be draped appropriately as needed. Keep in mind that while you can keep on as much clothing as you like, and massage can still be effective over the clothes, it is most effective to work directly on the skin. Some people will remove everything and many will leave just their underwear on, but you will be draped appropriately at all times depending on your level of undress. 
During the massage, it is very helpful to let your therapist know if you would like more or less pressure, and a good therapist should ask you if you'd like more or less pressure fairly early in the session, or throughout the session in different areas. However, even with deep tissue massage, most therapists will begin each area with somewhat lighter strokes in order to warm the area in preparation for deeper techniques. 
It is good to know that this is your session, and you can feel free to have things the way you like it. Let the therapist know if you are not warm enough or too warm, if the music is too loud or quiet, if you need the face rest adjusted, if you are uncomfortable laying on your stomach or back, if you would like more or less oil used, if you need a tissue or water, if you would like to spend more time in certain areas, or if you are uncomfortable with the experience altogether and would like to stop the session. A good therapist will gladly accommodate these requests." -Corinne

"Welcome to Massage! Your Massage Therapist will be asking some questions about you. rest assured your privacy is always protected. We need to know what you like and what is happening with you physically so we can give you the best massage. When we leave the room you should only undress to your comfort level, the most important thing is that you're comfortable on the table. As we are working on you, always let us know if something is uncomfortable or you would like changed. This is your time and we are here to make it the best experience we can for you. Don't be shy! We want to know how we can make this experience the best it can be for you." -Melissa

What is the difference between a Swedish and Deep tissue massage? How will I know which one to get?

"Swedish massage is mostly focused on relaxation. It is lighter touch but still can be therapeutic. 
Deep Tissue massage is also relaxing, however it goes to the deeper layers of tissue, so the touch is more firm.  When in doubt, if this is your first time, Swedish is a good place to start, but if you know that you like a nice firm deep touch then Deep Tissue is the way to go. We will adjust our depth with your needs." -Melissa

"A purely Swedish style massage consists of strokes ranging from light to medium-firm pressure, depending on the client's preference. Strokes will mainly be long, flowing and 'mushy'. There can be some kneading, squeezing, compression and even stretching, but truly Swedish techniques should not go beyond a medium-firm pressure. Swedish style massage is beneficial mostly for mental and physical stress reduction, tension reduction in the more superficial layers of soft tissue, pain reduction, improved blood and lymphatic circulation, and other benefits listed above, including stimulation of the immune system, increased flexibility, and reduced inflammation. Requesting a Swedish style massage is ideal if you are mostly interested in the above benefits (particularly relaxation), and not concerned about addressing deeper tension in soft tissue, which is where deep tissue techniques come in.
Deep tissue massage is ideal for those with more stubborn tension found in muscles, tendons, fascia and scar tissue, due to such things as repetitive stress, an injury, or postural imbalances. There are many deep tissue techniques that can be used, all with the goal of releasing the more stubborn tension that will not fully release from Swedish techniques alone. It is important to understand that the actual amount of pressure needed is relatively different for every client, depending on their own pain tolerance and the particular qualities of tension in the tissues. It's also good to understand the difference between 'Good Pain' and 'Bad Pain' in deep tissue massage. Many particularly deep tissue techniques will create some sensation of pain, but Good Pain should simultaneously feel relieving, such as a good deep stretch of a tight muscle-it "hurts so good". There is a 'sweet spot' with deeper pressure when even a tiny bit more would be Bad Pain. It is a fine line. Bad Pain is pain but without the concurrent relief. If you feel pain during a massage that is unbearable, without relief, or feeling as though it might cause more harm than good, particularly due to something your therapist is doing, it is very important to let your therapist know immediately. Many people worry that they might offend their therapist for asking them to change what they are doing, and will stay silent instead. We promise we won't be offended, we need to know what we can do to improve your experience. It is better to politely speak up instead of bearing discomfort and potentially causing injury. This is your session and you have control over what happens.
It is also good to be aware that after some deep tissue massages, it is normal and common to feel some soreness in the areas worked for the next 24 hours. Drinking plenty of water, gently stretching, applying hot or cold packs, and resting the area can all help to pass this soreness more quickly.
All this said, it is important to know that a good therapist will be able to customize your massage. Many people like a mixture of deep tissue and Swedish techniques, and it is okay to ask for this. Remember this is your time on the table to do not be afraid to discuss with your therapists any concerns and requests you might have." -Corinne

All questions were answered by Licensed Massage Therapists at Spa Soak: Corinne Sanders, Melissa Terrell and Robin Stephens.

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