Why should I get a massage?
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Things everyone needs to know about massage

It's not just the rich and famous who appreciate the stress-relieving benefits of massage. If you think massage is only for the indulgent and wealthy, think again. The biggest relief is felt by the stressed-out and tense, and that's something all of us have been at one time or another.

Everyone holds and deals with stress differently so our needs vary. Massage can and should feel good but it can also aid in circulation, enhance immune functioning, and treat injuries.

People who receive massage on a regular basis can tell you what they like about their massage sessions. In some cases, it may be the connectedness the client senses from his/her therapist. For others it may be something as simple as the joy of feeling pampered. Still other factors play into making the session as pleasant as possible--a convenient location, a professional setting, studio temperature, a comfortable table, the quality of the oils used, the type of music played, etc.

Once you have decided that your therapist is thoroughly trained and experienced, you should think about what style of massage you prefer. This is not always an easy decision because there are many styles of massage. Most therapists will advertise the type of massage they have been trained in. These can include cranial-sacral, deep-tissue, myofascial, reflexology, sports, and Swedish to name a few. Outcomes from each of these styles differ so you should ask yourself, "What do I want to get from this session?" Based on your response you might tell your therapist, "I have a knot in my back and want to ease the discomfort," or "I have had a stressful week and I just need to unwind," or "I’d like a deep tissue massage so I can zone out." Once the session begins, be sure to communicate to the therapist if the pressure applied is too weak or too strong for your liking.

Finally, do your part to make the session as enjoyable as possible. Do not eat a large meal just before a session. Make sure you schedule yourself plenty of time both before and after your session so you don’t end up feeling rushed or anxious. Make sure you empty your bladder before your session begins. Also, schedule your session according to your own body clock. If massage energizes you, book in the morning; if you want to totally unwind, book in the evening or on a slow day. You should leave your massage feeling relaxed, rested and reassured.


Preparation helps with relaxation
The number of massage therapists has increased substantially in recent years, partly due to the realization that we need to find ways to relax from our increasingly stress-filled lives. Additionally, our society’s growing awareness of self-care and the increasing acceptance and understanding of alternative care has helped to encourage people to seek the help they need to de-stress and detoxify their bodies.

But what can you do to avoid disappointment and be reasonably assured the session is to your liking? How can you find a therapist who is professional, properly-trained and experienced?

One of the easiest ways to locate a therapist is to ask around. Ask your friends, neighbors and family if they know anyone whom they would recommend. Check local newspapers and health-related magazines. Ask your doctor, nurse or other health practitioner. Additionally, the Internet has quickly become a source for all kinds of information including practitioners of massage and alternative medicine. When asking for recommendations make sure you are clear about what you want. If you are looking for light Swedish massage but don't make your preference known, you might end up with a massage therapist who specializes in deep-tissue work.

Before you book a session you should ask yourself, and then your potential massage therapist, a few questions.

Spend some time considering what you want to accomplish in the session. Are you looking for a relaxing stress-reliever or an invigorating session? Are you tender anywhere or in pain and, if so, where? Are you ticklish, arthritic or allergic? It is important to relay this information to your massage therapist to ensure that your needs are met during the session.

When considering a massage therapist, it is important to find out about his/her training and experience before you even book a session. This can be accomplished via a phone call to the massage therapist, a visit to the massage therapist’s web page or by asking an informed friend who has previously utilized the therapist’s services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; a professional massage therapist is not threatened by questions about training, certification, or level of experience.

What kind of reputation does the massage therapist have? Does he/she present a professional attitude? Is the massage studio properly equipped and comfortable? Are the sheets and linens clean? Does the therapist wash his/her hands between clients? All of these matters may be observed when you arrive for your session.

Learning to relax takes practice

When you walk in for your massage, you should be ready to relax. It's not a good idea to eat a big meal just prior to a session. It's also not a good idea to drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after a session. After your massage be sure to drink plenty of purified water.

In our high-stress, multi-tasking world people are finding it more and more difficult to relax. It is important to take time out each and every day to allow your mind to relax, your body to de-stress, and your spirit to re-center.

This can be as easy as closing your eyes for a minute or two while breathing deeply and slowly while visualizing a tranquil and peaceful setting. Try it!