1. Massage Is for Exercisers

After all that exercise, your muscles might be sore. While you shouldn’t push yourself to the point of pain, movement and effort often result in sore muscles, achy joints, and injuries such as strained ligaments and pulled tendons. Massage therapists are trained to knead and manipulate the muscles and connective tissue in the body to help the body find its equilibrium after exercise.

“Massage therapists are trained to help the body find its equilibrium after exercise.”

2. Massage Is for Nonexercisers, Too

Regular massage is great even for nonexercisers. It activates muscles and skin, improving circulation and even organ function. Massage is an excellent stress management tool. It helps your body and mind to relax as it encourages the body to help heal itself. Massage can also give you a feeling of control and mastery over your body as it responds to the targeted effects of massage. Pain may disappear. Posture may improve. Muscles and joints may begin to work better and more easily.

3. Make a Habit of It

Consider regular massage as a serious stress management tool. Massage can equal mental and physical maintenance. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a professional massage therapist, and, in some cases, massage therapy and even acupuncture is covered by insurance. If you are interested in less mainstream types of massage therapy such as reflexology, acupressure, or Reiki, talk to friends, a natural health provider, a yoga teacher, or the employees at your local natural health food store for recommendations.

4. Experience Swedish Massage

This common form of massage involves a massage therapist applying oil to the body and certain types of massage strokes—namely, effleurage (gliding), petrissage (kneading), friction (rubbing), and tapotement (tapping)—to increase circulation in muscles and connective tissue, help the body to flush out waste products, and heal injuries. Swedish massage induces a feeling of deep relaxation and increases range of motion. Some Swedish massage therapists also use hydrotherapy, or massage through soaking, steaming, or applying jets of water to the body.

5. Give Rolfing a Try

If you like your massages hard, you might want to try Rolfing. Rolfing is a deep massage designed to restructure the body’s muscles and connective tissue to promote better alignment. Some people claim that the deep tissue massage actually releases deeply buried emotions and that emotional outbursts are common during the course of the ten-session program.

6. Feel the Pressure

Shiatsu is the Japanese word for “finger pressure” and is sometimes known as acupressure. Shiatsu is an ancient form of massage, still widely practiced, that involves the application of pressure through fingers, palms, elbows, or knees to pressure points in the body. Pressure points are certain points along energy meridians that the Japanese and other Asian cultures have defined within the body. Pressure on these points is thought to release energy blockages that cause pain and disease, resulting in balance, equilibrium, and greater physical health. Acupuncture is based on the same principle but uses very thin needles painlessly inserted into pressure points. Much research has supported the effectiveness of both acupuncture and acupressure in the relief of pain and the treatment of certain disorders.

7. Try Reflexology

Reflexology is a little like acupressure, but in reflexology, all the pressure points are in the hands and feet. The theory goes that the entire body, including all the parts, organs, and glands, is represented in a “map” on the hands and feet, and that pressure applied to the right area of the “map” will help to balance the problem in the associated area of the body.

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