Are you tempted by the idea of getting a nice, relaxing massage? Did you know that a massage is more than just a treat? It has scientifically proven health benefits that can have a positive impact on many aspects of your life. Swedish massage is one of the most commonly practiced forms of massage and one we offer at the MacMed Spa in Milford, MA.
What Is Swedish Massage?
Massage has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years. Swedish massage is the kind most people think of when they hear the word “massage”. It is also the kind most often shown in movies and photographs. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as “classic massage”.
The goal is to offer the body a relaxing experience by kneading the muscles, applying long, smooth strokes to the soft tissue, and using short, rhythmic taps. Massage helps the body release tension while also providing stimulation.
Technique: The 4 Most Common Strokes
Professional masseuses and masseurs get an extensive education that focuses on anatomy and technique. Their knowledge allows them to provide people with a service that truly does a body good. 4 of the strokes they learn are:
This word is French for “gliding”. In massage, it is used to refer to long, smooth strokes that are used to relax the body.
After effleurage, the masseuse begins to knead the body, rolling the soft tissue and gently squeezing it. This encourages circulation and has a detoxing effect. In French, the word “petrissage” actually means “kneading”.
Done with deep, circular movements of the hands on the body, this kind of stroke also promotes blood flow and is even helpful in eliminating scar tissue.
One of the most recognizable strokes in Swedish massage, tapotement is done by applying short, alternating taps with the edges of the hands.
The Effect of Massage: Relaxation
Getting a massage is an enjoyable experience that both feels good and does positive things for your body. The techniques used in Swedish Massage induce a pleasant relaxation response in your muscles. You can enjoy the feeling of your body releasing, your breath becoming slower, and your mind experiencing a sense of peace. This relaxation response can support your body’s natural healing processes and bring clarity to your mind as you return to your normal activities.
As opposed to other forms of massage, which might target specific injuries or concerns, Swedish massage is primarily intended to promote this sense of relaxation. The pressure of the strokes is applied at the optimal level for relaxation. Of course, we can customize the pressure as you like.
Savor a Comfortable Environment
During your massage, we provide a soothing space that invites you to unwind. You will lie, draped in fabric, on a comfortable massage table with support for your body. We will assess your skin and choose oils and lotions that can best help your body release. You can choose to have relaxing music as part of your massage experience, or you can let us know you prefer not to have it.
Everything about your environment during the massage is intended to make you feel good and help you relax. If there is anything you want to alter, or you have any concerns, you can let us know.
How to Have the Most Beneficial Massage
What to Do Before Your Massage
To get the most from your massage, try not to eat immediately before you go in for your appointment. Your body should have time to digest. Talk with us if you have any medical concerns or allergies. Let us know about your preferences for music in the room and if there are any specific areas of your body on which you would like the massage to focus.
What to Do After Your Massage
During the massage, you will feel a deep sense of relaxation that can leave you feeling sleepy. Give yourself some extra time following the massage to gently drift back to Planet Earth. You might feel that you want to drink more water than usual throughout the day following your massage. This is because of the detox effect it has on your body. Drinking lots of water will help your body eliminate the toxins and clear itself.
Massage to Reduce Stress
Massage is extremely beneficial because it helps reduce stress. Most of us are doing our best to live healthy, balanced lives, but stress from everyday obligations or some specific event can accumulate over time. This has negative consequences for our minds and our bodies. By using the techniques mentioned above, a massage helps release some of the accumulated tension and leaves you with a good feeling that can last weeks after your appointment.
Don’t Stress! Here’s Why
Today, we understand that there is a strong mind-body link and that many illnesses are related to stress. Stress is a natural part of our “fight or flight” response to threats. When we perceive a problem in our environment, our bodies release cortisol, which causes tension in our muscles and allows us to respond quickly to the issue.
While a small amount of stress is normal and even helpful in allowing us to get through challenging situations, our bodies are not programmed to handle chronically high levels of stress. Emotional, physical, and behavioral issues can all result from having too much stress in our lives. Here is an incomplete list of the conditions that result from stress, but can be improved with massage:
Emotional Stress-Related Conditions
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling unfocused or disoriented
Physical Stress-Related Conditions
- Chronic back pain
- Muscle tension
- Digestive issues
- Skin conditions like acne, paresis, and eczema
- Weakened immune system
- Worsening of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer
Behavioral Stress-Related Conditions
- Inability to sleep
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty controlling responses to emotions
How Massage Helps
Massage promotes a relaxation response within your body that can counteract the effects of stress. It provides relief from muscle tension, increases circulation, and stimulates nerve endings. It also activates and drains your lymphatic system, which works alongside your immune system to keep you healthy.
The Benefits of Massage
Improvements in Your Sleep
Having a nice massage will improve your peace of mind, which in turn can help you sleep better at night. The positive effect it has on your circulation will stimulate your body during the day, allowing it to get into a normal sleep pattern and wind down at night. Sleeping better at night then results in a reduction in fatigue levels during the day.
By addressing muscle tension, a massage can give you a greater range of motion and a more supple feeling body. Through massage, you will improve the condition of your ligaments and tendons. Greater flexibility has the benefit of reducing your likelihood of getting injured.
One of the main goals of massage is to stimulate blood flow. By doing so, it increases the amount of oxygen moving through your circulatory system.
Strengthened Immune System
Massage helps your body eliminate toxins that put a strain on your immune system. This can help your body protect itself against viruses and serious chronic conditions. Cortisol, the hormone that is significantly lowered as a result of massage, has been proven to inhibit the effectiveness of your immune system. Getting a massage can help restore normal cortisol levels and strengthen your immune system.
Reduced Pain and Decreased Healing Time for Injuries
Cortisol, the hormone produced when we are stressed, inhibits our bodies from healing themselves. If you have chronic pain or an injury, massage can help you relax so that your pain is eased and your healing time is reduced.
Enhanced Effectiveness of Cancer Treatments
When combined with Western medicine, massage can even help your body fight cancer. Additionally, it can alleviate some of the side effects of cancer treatment.
To live a healthy, balanced life, it is important to make time for things you enjoy such as hobbies, reading, and time with people whose company you appreciate. You can look forward to massage as part of your self-care routine.
The enjoyable experience of a relaxing massage can improve your mental state and allow you to be happier and more positive. After doing something good for yourself, you feel more motivated and more equipped to handle whatever situations you encounter in your life.
The benefits massage has on your health and your mood result in greater focus and drive in all aspects of your life. When your body feels good, you have more energy to be creative, tackle challenges, stay organized, and set aside time for others.
The Benefits of Massage Are Proven
You should speak with your doctor if you are seeking massage to address a specific health concern. Numerous studies with control groups have shown the effectiveness of massage in addressing health conditions. Here are just a few examples:
In 2003, a study compared the effectiveness of massage against acupuncture and spinal modification in treating people with back pain. Not only did it find that massage was the best method, but it also found that by treating their condition with massage, participants reduced their need for painkillers by 36%.
Studies have shown that by getting regular massages, people can decrease the number of migraines they get every year.
One study looked at people who suffered from osteoarthritis in their knees to determine how their condition would respond to massage. The first group received a one hour massage one or two times a week. People in this group reported significant improvements in their pain and stiffness. The second group that did not receive massages reported no change.
According to a review of more than 12 studies, massage lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) by over 50%. Additionally, it activates the neurotransmitters responsible for boosting our mood and relieving depression. These studies found that massage can, therefore, lower levels of depression and anxiety.
A Massage Can Give Your Body What It Needs
A massage can offer you deep relaxation while your body gets the care it deserves. Our bodies need time set aside just to unwind and recharge. Let massage be part of your self-care routine. Its benefits go beyond making you feel good and can have a positive impact on all aspects of your life, from your work to your health to the quality of the time you spend with others. When you feel relaxed, you can let go of old tension and go about your day with a positive outlook.
Contact MacMed Spa in Milford, MA to learn more about our offerings and schedule your appointment today.