Did you know there is something magical about the human touch? When you knock or injure yourself, the first instinct would be to hold the affected part till the pain subsides. In the same way, the first reaction when you hear good or bad news from a friend or loved one is to reach out and hold him/her.
As such, it comes as no surprise that massage has been used in healing since ancient times. What’s more, it is not just a way to relieve physical aches and pains but is also used to soothe anxiety, depression, even deep-rooted psychological problems such as trauma and abuse.
It works in various ways: relieve knotted muscles and tendons that cause pain and stiffness; release serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones that boost immune function; improve mood and lower blood pressure.
Studies show that the effects of massage are similar to that of yoga, acupuncture and exercise. Regular and effective massage helps many patients reduce dependency on medications, which is especially helpful for people with long-term chronic conditions such as arthritis, migraines and depression.
With a wide range of massage types of choose from, it helps to know what you need before you book a masseur. Different massages serve different functions, and knowing what you need will help you achieve maximum benefits.
Massage methods can vary, from long, firm strokes along muscles, to applying pressure at specific points, to stretching or manipulating body parts in order to improve flexibility. Some massages are conducted while fully clothed, others semi-clothed or fully undressed. Sessions can last from one to three hours.
There are also massages that are targeted at problem parts, such as neck and shoulder massages to relieve soreness and stress, as well as hand or foot reflexology to stimulate internal organs through their corresponding reflex points. Targeted sessions are usually shorter, lasting ten to fifteen minutes.
Of these, oil massage is the favourite choice because of its soothing, relaxing features. Various oils can be used for an oil massage, although the best option is one that is non-greasy, unscented and non-staining.
Some oils, such as Palmer’s Skin Therapy, also double up as a skin restoring agent. Apart from pampering your body with sensory pleasures, it also reduces scars and repairs skin that is dry, damaged uneven or wrinkled, making it a multi-purpose product for both the body and face.
THE UNSPOKEN LANGUAGE OF LOVE
Love is best expressed through touch. Not sure where to begin? Here are some suggestions:
1) A hand or foot massage at the end of a hard day at work makes a wonderful night gift for your partner.
2) See a colleague struggling with a tough project? A ten-minute shoulder massage can be god-sent.
3) Caring for an elderly parent or in-law? Offer a back or calf rub as a valuable treat they will surely appreciate.
4) Children with difficulty sleeping can be soothed by massaging or rubbing their tummy, back or legs.
5) Know of a friend who is being challenged with disease diagnosis, financial problems, divorce or death of a loved one? Just holding his/her hand or giving him/her a whole-hearted bear hug for five minutes is all you need to do to show your support. At times like these, words don’t matter.