When something is sore it is our natural instinct to rub or massage the sore area in an attempt to reduce the painful sensation. Massage in its most basic form is a way of easing pain, while at the same time aiding relaxation, promoting a feeling of wellbeing and a sense of receiving good care. The English word massage is derived from the Arabic word mass'h, which means to 'press gently'.
Massage is thought to be clinically effective at providing symptomatic relief of pain through physical and mental relaxation, and thereby increasing the pain threshold through the release of endorphins.
The most commonly applied therapeutic massage technique for whole body massage is known as 'Swedish' massage. How to give a good full body Swedish massage? There are several components of massage including effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction massage and acupressure.
Also Read: How to Give a Shoulder Massage
Effleurage: the therapists' hands glide over the patient's skin overlying the muscles being treated. Oil or powder is used to reduce friction and continual hand-to-skin contact is maintained throughout the session. Effleurage can be superficial or deep. the main mechanical effect of effleurage is to displace fluid in front of the hands.
Petrissage: this involves compression of underlying skin and muscle between the fingers and thumb of one or two hands. Tissue is gently squeezed as the hands move in circular patterns perpendicular to the direction of the compression. The manual compression and subsequent release causes the physiological effect of increased reactive circulation.
Tapotement: this is a percussion form of massage that involves the use of both hands to repetitively strike soft tissues in a gentle, rapid and rhythmic fashion. there are many variations of this form of massage. The physiological effect is believed to result from compression of trapped air that occurs on impact.
Deep friction: pressure is applied with the ball of the therapist's thumb, fingers or the elbow to work a patient's skin and muscles. Deep pressure avoids over-stretching superficial tissues by bypassing them and attempting to direct the forces to the deeper tissues of the body. Deep friction massage is most commonly used to prevent or break down scar tissue and adhesions.
Acupressure: this is a traditional Chinese medicine technique derived from acupuncture. It is a form of touch therapy whereby physical pressure is applied to the acupuncture points of the body using the hands, elbows or with various devices. Imbalances along the energy meridians are believed to cause disease and can be rectified using localised pressure.
Full body massage is good for muscle soreness and stiffness, decreased range of motion, relaxation, pain management, poor circulation, non-inflammatory arthritis, lymphatic drainage and fluid retention. A systematic review concluded that massage may be of benefit for patients with sub-acute (lasting 4 to 12 weeks) and chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks) non-specific low back pain, especially when combined with exercises and education. The amount of benefit was more than that achieved by joint mobilisation, relaxation, physical therapy, self-care education or acupuncture.
Whole body massage has mechanical and psychological effects. Reflexive effects include dilating the blood vessels and so improving circulation, general relaxation, increased perspiration and a reduction in pain by way of releasing feel-good hormones and regulating neurotransmitters. Mechanical benefits include increasing lymph drainage, assisting blood flow, decreasing muscle tightness, preventing or breaking adhesions in soft tissues and softening scars. The psychological effect is 'the laying of hands' promotes a general sense of wellbeing and being personally cared for.
Most people find massage to be relaxing and enjoyable. Treat yourself to a good session of full body massage and remove all the soreness and tiredness.