Massage is the most booked spa treatment, and for good reason. In some places it accounts for around 70% of all treatments booked. The origins of massage can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and while different types of massage are designed to achieve different outcomes, it’s about physical wellbeing leading to mental wellbeing as well.
What is a massage?
While there’s a wide variety of massage types available, in broad terms it’s where muscle groups are stimulated to relieve tension, stimulate and heal.
Types of massage are there?
There are lots of different types of massage, and each spa will then create its own protocols to enhance and personalise each experience. However, the broad options include:
- Swedish massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Lymphatic massage
- Sports massage
- Oncology massage
- Hot stone massage
- Aromatherapy massage
- Thai massage
- Pregnancy massage
- Lava shell massage
What are the benefits of massage?
Whilst we all know about the physical benefits of massage, such as relieving aches and pains, the benefits of massage extend beyond 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 world around us and focus on the here and now.
Massage provides a vast range of health benefits, such as:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Helping with sports and soft tissue injuries
- Easing anxiety
- Easing digestive disorders
- Helping to relieve insomnia related to stress
- Easing muscular aches and pains
- Relieving tension and stress
- Aiding relaxation
- Products will also nourish the skin
- Some massages aid detox
It is a physical treatment and thanks to the potent power of touch, it can be transformative, and, with appropriate therapist training, can offer enormous benefits at difficult times. For example, many therapists are now trained to provide oncology touch treatments to cancer patients, and both therapists and recipients report the powerful impact that massage can have on how we feel and how we connect with our bodies. It is a 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. 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 oncology 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 oncology 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.
As with all things, it depends a little on the type of massage that you’re having, however, typically the process will involve:
- Consultation: You will have a consultation before your treatment begins to discuss any particular concerns, preferences (deep tissue for example) that you have or any allergies.
- Scent test: If there is an aromatherapy component you may do a scent test where you see which essential oil you’re drawn to and this will then inform the products that are used.
- Preparation: The therapist will then leave the room so you can lay on the treatment bed in your underwear or swimwear, covered with a towel.
- Massage: The therapist will then begin the massage, working on different parts of the body.
- Finish: At the end of the treatment, you will usually be given a few moments to come round at your leisure, and usually a glass of water will be provided.
Choose this if you want to…
The wide variety of massage options available means that it is a treatment that can address lots of different things for the individual. In essence, it works on a physical level, so it’s perfect if you feel stressed, if you workout a lot and have tight muscles, if you’ve been sitting at your desk too much or if you simply want to unwind.
Average price of a massage
As with all treatments, the cost of a massage will vary depending on where you have it, the products that are used and the specific variations that the spa places on the treatment. As an average, you can expect to pay anything from £50 to £150 for a massage in the UK, but some places will it will be more.
After a massage many people feel quite sleepy, so it’s a good idea to spend time coming round in the relaxation room. Have plenty of water or herbal tea so you don’t dehydrate, and try to use spa facilities before your treatment so you can leave nourishing oils on the skin for the rest of the day. If you can avoid exercise for the rest of the day and generally take it easy, that will also help.
What should I wear to a massage
This will depend a little bit on whether it’s a full body massage or focusing on a particular part of the body. If it’s a full body treatment then you might be offered paper underwear or choose to wear swimwear or regular underwear. Women might be asked to take their bra or top part of swimwear off if the massage covers the back. However, therapists will always cover you with a towel and leave areas that are not being worked on covered so you don’t feel exposed.