Sports and remedial massage therapist, Linda Hodson, tells us why massage offers more than just pampering…
“With so many of us feeling stressed and wound up, I’ve seen more and more people turning to touch therapy to enhance their well-being,” says Linda. During treatments, I chat to clients about their lifestyle and stress management, and give them individualised massages to heal specific ailments.
In fact, studies have shown that massage is a great complement to the scientific approach to healing and therapists often work with chiropractors, physiotherapists and doctors to give patients a more holistic understanding of treatments.
How emotional stress causes physical pain
Many people have emotional blockages attached to muscle spasms and unless you unlock that link, the pain will never go away. Sciatica, for instance, might be caused by tension rather than injury, as tense muscles clamp down on the sciatic nerve, reproducing the symptoms.
The anxiety that comes with being in pain makes the spasm worse. There is a term for what happens when worry intensifies pain. The “nocebo” effect is where you experience pain when you are told you have a medical condition. Linda believes massage can help: “Once you work with massage, it’s extraordinary how it can get people going again.”
Here’s how to get the most from your massage:
Choose the right therapist
Word of mouth or personal recommendations are the best route. Be cautious when using the Internet. Although a useful tool, it doesn’t guarantee a good therapist. Ask around, go to a wellness centre you trust and, if you find a good therapist, stick with them.
Prepare before you go
Make sure that you arrive in good time so that you’re relaxed and calm before your massage. You might want to swim or shower first, or come straight after exercise when your muscles are warm and will benefit most.
Say what you want
A good therapist should check first whether you have any injuries or problem areas, and ask you what sort of massage you’d like. This is your chance to express your preferences. Be specific and have the courage to speak up. It’s no good lying there with gritted teeth.
It is very important to be assertive and direct with your therapist – tell them if you want to be able to chill out and relax or whether you want to be able to fall asleep. It is essential that you take responsibility for your treatment. After all, it’s your body and your money.
Let go and relax
Remember that massage will help relieve muscular pain and soreness, so go with it… don’t resist. Some people find it difficult to relax, particularly if you are in pain or your muscles are in spasm. But when you give yourself over to a really good massage, the benefit can be huge.
How often should you go?
If you are recovering from injury or surgery, you may need as many as 12 weekly treatments, but if you wake up with a bad neck, two to three sessions a couple of days apart might resolve the issue quickly. Of course, you can always just go for regular treatments to benefit from touch therapy and stress release.