You learn a lot when you study a massage diploma; from the basics to the complex. You study the muscles, all the body’s systems and much more besides. But you really start learning when you start seeing clients. There’s nothing like hands on (pardon the pun) experience to teach you what massage can actually do.
When I first started as a massage therapist, I was so excited to get my business going. I massaged as many different people as I could and started to realise that our bodies are so much more varied than we think. How and where we hold our tension differs from person to person which, naturally, means that there isn’t one particular type of treatment that will suit everyone.
At the start of my career, I had a lot of clients asking for deep tissue massage and specifying knots or tight areas that they needed me to work on. This was a brilliant way for me to further learn how we often store tension in a physical way but as I became a more experienced therapist, I started asking more questions about why people were feeling tension and stress and whether massage could help with more than tight muscles.
Don’t get me wrong; sometimes a client will come with a very specific physical ailment and it requires concentrated deep tissue work to release it. But there can also be mental or emotional needs that play a part in how a treatment progresses and what techniques are used. If, for example, a someone is under a lot of emotional or mental stress, a lot of deep massage might actually be adding a further layer of stress and so may not be the best choice of treatment. It might be better to combine some deeper work with other more balancing, grounding techniques, perhaps combining different therapies to shape the treatment around how that person feels at that moment in time. Touch is a powerful tool and gentle massage can be just as effective as deep massage for both physical and emotional needs.
Take a pregnant woman for example; a soothing massage helps promote oxytocin – the happy hormone – which will pass through the placenta to the baby. Whilst some deeper work can still be used to alleviate the physical strains and aches of pregnancy, it’s also good to make the mum feel relaxed, nourished and nurtured. The world we live in can sometimes be overwhelming and there are definitely occasions when a gentler, healing massage, giving us time out to find focus and ground ourselves, provides us with more than a pummelling might do.
Studies are now showing that massage, in addition to relieving sore muscles and tension, can also have huge benefits in the following areas:
- Reducing stress levels
- Decreasing anxiety levels
- Improving quality of sleep
- Improving concentration, focus & mental clarity
- Injury prevention
- Boosting the immune system
- Increased energy
So whatever your need, you can be assured that there is a type of massage therapy perfectly suited for you.