Massage: (ma sazh') n. A body
rub given to improve circulation and relax muscles. (Webster's
Alternatively: Massage is the systematic manual or mechanical manipulation of the soft tissues of the body by such movements as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping, and tapping, for the purpose of promoting circulation of the blood and lymph, relaxation of muscles, relief of pain, restoration of metabolic balance and other benefits both physical or mental. /Beck, Mark, The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, Melody Publishing Co., 1988/
Massage in its various forms has been around for centuries and it is one of the earliest forms of remedial medical practices. When we have sore aching muscles, bruises or wounds our natural inclination is to rub the part of the body that hurts to make the pain go away. Much like a mother rubs her child when it gets hurt.
Touch is an essential part of the human experience since without it, we would literally die. We all hunger to be touched and we look for ways to obtain touch thru friends, family or lovers. Massage therapy offers a safe place for us to nurture ourselves. It is an uniquely personal experience and can be a total Mind-Body experience for both the Massage Therapist and the person receiving the massage.
To thoroughly enjoy a massage, anyone receiving a massage needs to be aware of what to expect before, during and after a session. It is important to know that you as a client are in control of the Massage Session. You control the direction and pace, and if anything does not feel comfortable, it is your right and responsibility to notify the massage therapist so that your personal space is respected. Do some research. Find out as much as you can about your massage therapist (his/her credentials, specialties). You also need to be aware of the various styles and techniques so you that you can choose what's best for you.
Before the Session:
Fill out any necessary forms and questionnaires. Inform the therapist of any medical or health conditions that he/she should know about. After gathering the information the Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) and you decide what type of massage this session will cover and he/she will ask you to undress to your comfort level (depending on the massage) and get on the table. The CMT will leave the room and return once you are ready.
During the Session:
Depending on the type of massage, various draping methods will be employed. For example, Swedish massage will require areas of the body to be exposed, whereas, Shiatsu can generally be done while the client is fully dressed in sweatpants or shorts.
Remember that Communication is Paramount. If the CMT is working on areas that you find uncomfortable, it is your right to inform the CMT to stop working on that area or to stop the session all together if you wish. Similarly, if you find that the CMT is doing something right or is working on an area that you find pleasurable let him/her know and ask to continue working that area if you wish. Trust your instincts and you will get the most out of the massage session.
After the Session:
The CMT will complete the session by grounding him/herself. Ending the session abruptly can sometimes take away from the massage, so grounding is a great way to slowly bring yourself back from the relaxed state you're in. He/She will explain that the session is over and that you can take a couple of minutes to get oriented and then dressed.
It is important to assess the session, either with or without the CMT, so that you know how to make your next session more pleasurable. This can also be a great way to give your massage therapist important feedback
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