Massage is the most booked spa treatment, and for good reason. In some places it accounts for around 70% of all treatments booked.
Whilst we all know about the physical benefits of massage, such as relieving aches and pains. The benefits of massage extend way beyond simply soothing muscles and relieving tension. For an hour or more we are totally switching off. It’s the one time when we truly disconnect from the Internet and the world around us. We focus simply on the here and now.
Your mind might wander, but within moments you will be back in the room. The gentle flowing strokes of the therapist and the wonderfully warm scented essential oils will sooth the mind and calm the soul. It’s all pretty special really. However, there’s more...
Massage provides a vast range of health benefits that people rarely give credit for. Lowering blood pressure and relieving stress are just two of the physiological changes that can occur. It is a physical treatment and thanks to the potent power of touch, can be transformative. In today’s society people are more isolated than ever. People are living alone in greater numbers and it can be rare for some people to be touched by another person.
The power of touch should never be underestimated. It’s something we talk about a lot. Having interviewed and spoken to spa therapists across the UK, many of whom have treated patients with or recovering from cancer, you really see the powerful impact that massage can have on how we feel and how we connect with our bodies. Massage is the moment where you allow yourself to feel human, connected with someone else as well as yourself, making a spa treatment so much more than a physical way to relieve muscle tension, and a much deeper, powerful experience.
Any of us who have ever felt stressed, tired, overworked, underpaid or ill will know that someone taking the time to massage our shoulders or feet can be the answer our bodies were crying out for. While massage may seem like a superficial or indulgent extra when life gets busy or challenging, it can prove to be so much more than body maintenance – it’s part of our physical and emotional wellbeing.
One person we work closely with, Jennifer Young, has found through research that massage has both long and short term benefits.
Short term benefits of massage include: - Reduced anxiety, depressed mood and anger in breast cancer patients. - Increased vigour. - Reduced mood disturbances and perceived stress levels. - Improved sleep quality. - Improved quality of life. - Reduced pain and improvement of mood, reduced stress levels. - Reduced perception of pain, nausea and increased relaxation. - Pain intensity, pulse rate, and respiratory rate significantly reduced immediately after massage. At study entry, the massage group reported higher pain intensity, which decreased by 42% (25% reduction in the control group). - Reduced anxiety scores, depression, general fatigue, reduced motivation fatigue, and emotional fatigue.
Long term benefits of massage: - Reduced depression and hostility, increased urinary dopamine, serotonin values, natural killer cell number and lymphocytes in breast cancer patients. - Reduced mood disturbances and perceived stress levels. - While all of these benefits are based on research and anecdote and are specifically related to those with or recovering from cancer, the majority of them have relevance to every individual.
The internet will give you any number of massage benefits from helping with sports and soft tissue injuries to anxiety, digestive disorders and insomnia related to stress, but at the other end of the spectrum it’s important to remember that every person and everybody is different, so the benefits are extremely personal.
We all have a story of someone we know or love who has been through a hard time, or maybe even just a period of time that’s a bit more stressful than we would like. Then again, you may be going through a period in your life where everything is fabulous and you just want it to feel even more fantastic. Whatever the reason, massage or any spa treatment, can feel like a luxury, but its benefits shouldn’t be dismissed as trivial.
Every spa will have their own processes, expertise and capabilities when it comes to adapted spa treatments, but whether you’re having a regular massage or something more specialised, never underestimate the power of massage.