The term ‘massage therapy’ is used to describe a wide variety of techniques that vary in the manner in which touch, pressure and the intensity of the treatment is applied from working on pressure points (accupressure, Shiatsu and reflexology), use of heated or cold stones (hot stones or marine stones), crystal therapy (to work chakras) or even working on energy channels (Reiki).
Massage therapy is one of the oldest healing therapies in existence, with origins relating back to the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, China and India over centuries.
Massage therapy involves kneading or manipulating a person’s muscles and other soft tissue in order to improve mental (emotional) or physical well-being or health. It is a form of manual therapy that includes holding, moving, and applying pressure to the muscles, tendons and ligaments to bring about positive improvements for a range of ailments.
It can also be effective to support those with;
- a chronic disease such as auto-immune conditions
- a life-threatening or terminal illness such as cancer (however only to assist with symptoms of the condition)
Effects Benefits of Massage
One immediate benefit of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm which occurs as massage prompts the release of endorphins – the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of well-being.
Levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine may also be reduced. Medical research suggests that high levels of stress hormones impair the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Types of massage
Typically, massage therapists use either massage oil, cream or powder to allow their hands to slip over a person’s skin to reduce friction and improve client comfort.
Different types of massage may include:
- therapeutic massage – also known as ‘Swedish’ massage. One of the most popular forms of massage to promote relaxation, work on muscular tension and improve blood/lymph circulation
- aromatherapy – essential oils made from selected flowers and plants are added to the massage oil for their particular therapeutic properties. For example, the scent of lavender is thought to reduce nervous tension and stress
- reflexology – based on the principle that certain parts of the body reflect the whole. Reflex points, which relate to all parts of the body, can be found in the feet, hands, face, and ears. These points respond to pressure, stimulating the body’s own natural healing process
- shiatsu – an oriental massage technique that aims to improve energy flow by working certain (pressure) points on the body. The underlying principles of shiatsu massage are similar to those of acupuncture and may be used in combination with Swedish techniques or as part of an Indian head massage (ayurvedic techniques)
- remedial or ‘sports’ massage – is the objective assessment, treatment; and rehabilitation of the signs, symptoms, and causes of biomechanical dysfunction or injury. Sports massage specifically is a blend of techniques that aim to enhance performance and help overworked muscles to recover quickly. Often requires specialist advanced training and is most commonly offered alongside physiotherapy or as part of osteopathic or chiropractic treatments.
Special considerations for Massage – Contra-Indications
There are some instances where massage may not be recommended, or a GP or specialist referral should be obtained, including (but not limited to):
- during pregnancy
- infectious conditions on the skin are observed
- where fractures, broken bones or undiagnosed lumps/bumps are present
Why train in Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy treatments are hugely in demand as more people seek to take a holistic approach to their health and wellness, not limiting lifestyle changes to simply diet and exercise but also seeking out alternative therapies rather than pharmaceutical fixes. Typically massage therapists can earn anything from £10-£50 an hour whether employed in a salon or spa, or working self-employed on a freelance or mobile basis. Completing accredited and recognised training ensures you have the highest level of knowledge and confidence to provide treatments, not least having knowledge of contra-indications and homecare advice to prolong benefits for clients. Having recognised training also allows you to obtain insurance to ensure you are working to the highest standards of practice.
Discover our Massage Therapy Courses:
We have a full range of courses from introductory courses like Express Body Massage to advanced courses and packages to get you started within your new career. For those seeking employment, a VTCT Level 3 is the perfect option…